MIAMISBURG — Tyler Callahan felt it was a good year for his Middletown High School softball team, a fun year. But it didn’t quite reach his expectation level.
The Middies finished sixth in the Greater Miami Conference and ended a 13-13 campaign Tuesday with a 7-2 loss to Fairmont in a Division I district semifinal at Miamisburg.
“I feel like we underachieved,” Callahan said. “Granted, we play in a very tough conference and some injuries set us back a little bit, but I just feel like we’re better than 13-13. We just didn’t hit. That’s No. 1 this offseason. We’ve got to refocus and shift gears offensively.
“Our program is growing — this is the first time in over 10 years that we have youth fast-pitch softball. The high school team has got to find a way to get over the hump, and I feel like we’re going to do it. I feel like we’ve got the right pieces coming back next year.
“It was a good growing year for the program. We’ve got to focus on breaking down the small things and just growing. We have to overcome the mantra of playing some of the teams that we play. We play good when the games don’t mean as much, but when it’s the big game, that’s the game that we have to step up in. That’s the one we have to win next year.”
Middletown defeated Fairmont 5-4 in nine innings April 13, but the Firebirds’ bats were too strong in the rematch. They totaled eight hits against Middies ace Carly Metcalf and banged out a home run and four doubles.
Metcalf, a junior right-hander, struck out nine and walked four. Fairmont southpaw Hilarie Spitler tossed a three-hitter with nine strikeouts and one walk.
“I think it just wasn’t our day,” Metcalf said. “They swung the bats. That was the problem. They actually swung the bats. We didn’t swing them enough.”
The eighth-seeded Middies made it a 2-2 affair with two unearned runs in the bottom of the fourth. The Firebirds, seeded 10th, responded with three runs in the fifth, with two coming on a Katie Thompson drive over the left-field fence.
“They were on it today. I didn’t expect them to hit the ball this hard,” Callahan said. “I thought Carly threw the ball fairly well. I just thought their hitters were up there ready to attack. They were aggressive when they needed to be and patient when they needed to be.”
Taylor Hilty, Hayley Lewis and Thompson all had two hits for Fairmont (12-10), which scored three times on wild pitches, and Julia White drove in a run. Hilty, Thompson, Lewis and Kiyah Burroughs provided the doubles.
“I think we hit the ball even better today than I thought we would as far as the long balls. We were pounding some out there pretty good,” Fairmont coach Mike Hennessy said. “We did feel like we could get the bat on the ball against her. We had a good practice yesterday, it seemed to pay off, and these girls seem to want to keep playing.”
The Firebirds will face Harrison for a district championship Friday at 5 p.m. at Northmont. Hennessy said Fairmont has already made a successful run as a 10 seed, so why not keep going?
“With Hilarie on the mound, we can play with anybody,” Hennessy said. “I don’t feel bad about where we’re at. We’ve got decent senior leadership … we’re just young overall. Last year’s team was loaded with talent and we won our league, but we got beat in the first round of the tournament. This team plays hard, they’re good kids, and they have a lot of fun playing softball.”
Second baseman Kaytlin Goodwin had an RBI for the Middies, and she was the only senior in their starting lineup Tuesday. Middletown will also lose Leah Fugate, Makina Gibson, Alley Roberts and Taylor Jones to graduation.
“We wanted a winning season this year,” Metcalf said. “I definitely think there’s room for improvement in many ways. We’re going to take that next step.”
Next season will be Callahan’s fifth as the Middies head coach.
“I anticipate us having a really big year next year,” he said. “We’re kind of stuck in neutral here, and we’re going to fix it and get going.”
WP — Hilarie Spitler (10-5); LP — Carly Metcalf (12-11); HR — F: Katie Thompson. Records: F 12-10, M 13-13
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