Riverside opened its season with a come-from-behind 6-5 victory at Austintown Fitch on Tuesday.
The Beavers trailed 2-0 early and scored the game-winning run in the top of the seventh inning.
“It was very exciting,” said Riverside coach Bill Ross. “It was a back-and-forth game the entire time.”
Fitch took a 1-0 lead in the bottom of the first on back-to-back singles, a walk, and another single.
The Falcons made it 2-0 with an unearned run in the third.
Riverside entered the fourth inning down two runs and with just four hits compared to seven strikeouts.
Delaney Keith led off that inning with a single and Maren Kelly hit a two-run home run to right-center to tie the game.
“I saw the pitch coming outside and we were just working on hitting outside pitches a few practices before, so it felt great to take what I was working on in practice and bring it to the field,” Kelly said. “It makes me very excited to see what I can do heading into the rest of the season. I’m excited to see where this team is heading.”
Riverside’s excitement was short-lived as the Falcons responded with two more runs in the bottom half of the inning to lead, 4-2.
Fitch made a pitching change in the top of the fifth.
Lydia Spalding allowed two runs on six hits and struck out eight before being replaced by Kayla Schubert.
The Beavers pounced on the new Fitch pitcher.
Megan Lehner and Emma Kovalchuk hit back-to-back singles to put runners on the corners for Amanda Kolar, who hit into a fielder’s choice that scored a run. Emily Lamos then doubled, leaving runners at second and third.
Keith then hit a sacrifice fly to tie the game at 4-4 and Lamos would score on a passed ball to give the Beavers their first lead, 5-4.
“The kids stayed positive,” Ross said of the early deficits. “Spalding is a great pitcher out there but they did a great job of getting hits on her early and gaining some confidence. Obviously, in the fourth inning when Maren Kelly hit that two-run bomb to tie the game, that was kind of the spark we needed.”
A walk and an RBI single allowed Fitch to tie the game in the bottom half of the inning but that only served to set up Kovalchuk’s big hit in the seventh.
With one out, Kovalchuk hit a 3-1 pitch into center field for a double. She advanced to third on a passed ball and scored on Kolar’s sacrifice fly.
Grace Fisher set the Falcons down in order in the seventh to seal the win.
“She threw great,” Ross said of Fisher. “That is a nice lineup they have. They put a lot of pressure on the defense and your pitchers. They have three lefties in the lineup. I thought she did a great job. She stayed composed. You couldn’t tell if were down two or up three the way she was pitching. I think that’s the best thing that she could have done for us. She was a rock in the circle.”
Fisher allowed four earned runs on eight hits and struck out 11 in the complete-game victory.
“It was so exciting to open the season with a win,” Fisher said. “We played so well as a team. Overall, I think all my pitches were working well but I think my curve was moving really well to keep batters looking and throw them off.”
Led by Lehner, who was 3-for-4, the Beavers collected 10 hits in the game.
Kovalchuk was 2-for-4 and Keith finished 2-for-3.
“Getting 10 hits against that team is outstanding,” Ross said. “That’s a great team, class act, and I thought Megan did a great job at the top of the lineup setting the table for us. That’s her job, to make things happen for the meat of the lineup.”
Riverside hosts Lakeside on Friday.