AUSTINTOWN - Four. It's a very small number. It can be counted on one hand. And in the sport of bowling, it's about as minuscule as you can get.
For the Austintown Fitch girls bowling team, it's a number that has haunted them for the past year - as that's the number that kept them away from the state tournament in 2012.
"I seriously hate the number four," junior Katie Viglio said. "We were so close last year."
Heading into the postseason, the Falcons were going to make sure they weren't four pins away from heading to Wayne Webb's Columbus Bowl, the site of the state tournament. Instead, they have been dominating their opponents in the sectional and district tournaments, leaving no room for error.
"There was no way we weren't making it to state this year," junior Lynnette Seebacher said. "We've been bowling really well, but I think we can do better."
The Falcons rolled a 4,020 to earn the highest seed out of the northeast district. They defeated second place Massillon Jackson by 251 pins. Going into Friday's state tournament, they have the second highest qualifying score out of the 16 teams vying for a state title.
Where: Wayne Webb's Columbus Bowl
When: Friday (glrls) and Saturday (boys), 11 a.m., both days
Area girls teams: Austintown Fitch, Hubbard.
Area girls individuals: Casie Cupan, Girard; Olivia Doraski, Garfield; Anna Brigham, Garfield
Area boys teams: Champion, Fitch, Canfield
"If we keep working together, and keep the attitudes down, I think we can do it," Seebacher said. "And of course, make our spares."
The girls won't be there alone. On Saturday, a day after the girls hope to bring home a state title, the Fitch boys team will be battling for their chance to be the best in the state.
While the boys advanced to the state tournament last season, it doesn't mean they were satisfied with how they finished. The Falcons advanced to championship bracket - the top eight teams advance after three individual games and three baker games.
After winning their first match against Troy, the Falcons fell in the semifinals to eventual state champion Coldwater.
"We've been very motivated to go back," senior Chris Mauro said. "We had a sour taste in our mouths after last year."
This season, the Falcons are determined to bring home a state title. And while their demeanor off the lanes is always light and comical, when it comes time to bowl, especially on Saturday, the team will be as focused as ever.
"We work really well together," Mauro said. "We blend together, like colors on a palette."
Austintown Fitch is one of only three schools that is sending both their girls and boys teams to the state tournament. Both teams said they are glad they will be there to support each other.
"We are like a big family," Seebacher said. "We hang out even when we aren't bowling."
The girls will bowl starting at 11 a.m. Friday. The boys will bowl at the same time Saturday.