The Star Beacon; Ashtabula, Ohio

May 21, 2013

A Don McCormack column: Home fires burn for Fitch

Sports Editor

Paying another visit to the variety store...


It didn’t take long for Ryan Fitch to find a new “home” as a basketball coach.

The former Pymatuning Valley varsity boys coach, who resigned after an 18-6 campaign this season, was recently named the head coach at his alma mater — Champion High School.

Fitch spent four seasons at the helm of the Lakers, posting a 61-27 record (.693).

A 1985 Champion graduate, Fitch teachers at Badger High School and lives in Howland, so the move back “home” makes sense.

“I like to think I’m coming back to give back to the school that gave so much to me,” Fitch, who replaces Doug Foster at the helm, told the Warren Tribune’s Matthew Peaslee. “From athletics to academics, Champion prepared me for life.”

Fitch was a multisport standout during his high school days as a Golden Flash. He played soccer, basketball and baseball at Champion, earning a scholarship to Roberts Wesleyan, located in Rochester, N.Y.

He began his coaching career as a junior high coach in Warren, then spent three seasons as a junior-varsity assistant at Howland. He took over the as the head boys coach at Badger for year, moved to Lakeview as an assistant for three seasons, then Liberty for a season before moving on to Pymatuning Valley, where he had the arduous task of following Jeremy Huber as varsity coach.

Fitch admits the drive to live in Howland, teacher at Badger and coach at PV made life a bit difficult.

“Anything that was closer to home would be a step in the right direction for my career,” Fitch said. “This couldn’t have worked out any better.

“Champion is the ideal spot for me.”

Fitch’s junior-varsity coach, Ryan Shontz, was named as his replacement a few weeks ago.

Along those lines...

Speaking of former Lakers, former PV baseball standout Brandon Easton had a tremendous season on the mound at Division II Lakeland Community College.

The southpaw hurler was named Ohio Community College Athletic Conference Pitcher of the Year after going 3-1 with a 1.89 earned run average in five OCCAC starts. Easton worked 33.1 innings in conference play, allowing but 22 hits and striking out 38.

Included in the three conference wins was a 17-strikeout, 3-hitter against North Central Missouri College.

For the season, Easton went 3-3, with a 2.36 ERA, starting eight games, four of which he went the distance, working 49.2 innings, allowing 32 hits, 13 earned runs, striking out 66 and walking 32.

Another former area standout, Edgewood graduate Bobby Dragon had a fine freshman season, posting a .273 batting average, a .382 on-base percentage and a .336 slugging percentage.

In 37 games, Dragon had 110 at-bats, scored 18 runs, had 30 hits, including four doubles and a homer, drove in 25 runs, pilfered four bases and drew a team-high 20 bases on balls.

Coach Howie Krause’s Lakers won their first OCCAC championship since 2004 this spring. Krause and Laker Wil Shortreed join Easton in collecting postseason hardware as Coach and Player of the Year, respectively.

McCormack is the sports editor of the Star Beacon. Reach him at