by Frank Aceto
Associate Sports Editor
She is arguably the team's best player in school history.
And she played on the best team in school history.
Now, 2007 Hudson graduate Beth Cinadr is back on the diamond in a brand new role.
She is the Lady Explorers head softball coach.
For Hudson, which won its only state title during Cinadr's senior year, it's certainly a welcome site.
"Since I played high school softball, I know the passion it takes," Cinadr said. "I want to try to get the girls to think positively and let them have confidence in their abilities. As a coach, you really have to manage everybody."
Cinadr always knew what she was doing when she played for the Lady Explorers. The All-Ohio center fielder batted leadoff during Hudson's magical run to the state title.
Cinadr moved to right field when she played at Purdue University (Ind.) and Kent State University. She graduated from Kent State in 2011 and is pursuing her masters degree in zoology at Miami University. The program is through the Cleveland Zoo.
Cinadr, replaces Jeff Brown, who retired after last year. Brown guided the Lady Explorers to the state championship game in 2009.
Last year, Hudson finished 19-7 overall and 8-2 to place second in the Northeast Ohio Conference River Division.
Stow-Munroe Falls is the defending River Division champion.
The Lady Explorers lost a 3-2 decision to Aurora in a 2012 district semifinal contest.
Cinadr certainly believes her team can contend for the River Division championship. But she's more focused on the smaller goals.
"We're expecting to go out fighting to the last pitch," Cinadr said. "We want to take it one pitch at a time and not get ahead of ourselves."
Hudson will have some holes to fill. The Lady Explorers lost seven seniors to graduation.
One of them was two-year starting pitcher Casey Brown. The standout right-hander finished 13-5 in 2012 and is playing for the Northwood University (Mich.) softball team.
Also graduating were right-handed pitcher Hannah Driscoll, shortstop Christie Wade, who is playing softball and basketball at John Carroll University in University Heights, and left-handed first baseman Emily Delsanter.
Nevertheless, Hudson has a mixture of veterans and younger players to make some noise in 2013.
The Lady Explorers have three infielders who have the potential to put up some huge offensive stats.
They are seniors Shelby Bitter (third baseman), Kelly Gough (second baseman) and Aislinn Sharkey (catcher).
The left-handed batting Bitter hit .506 with a slugging percentage of .831 last year. The all-conference player was second on the team with 33 runs batted in. She struck out just once in 89 at bats.
"Shelby has the potential to compete at the next level," Cinadr said. "She has a nice, fluid swing."
Gough, a three-year starter, hit .477 with a team leading 38 RBIs. The all-conference standout struck out just once in 86 at bats.
"Kelly is a great all-around athlete," Cinadr said. "She's one of our great leaders. She wants to do what's best for the team."
Sharkey led the team with five home runs and had a .335 batting average against River Division foes. She also had a .774 slugging percentage in division play.
"Aislinn is one of our best power hitters," Cinadr said.
Junior Kelly DiLullo earned all-conference recognition after batting .415 in 2012. DiLullo could play a number of positions, according to Cinadr.
"Kelly has a lot of speed," Cinadr said. "She could be in the middle infield or the outfield."
Shortstop Erika Howard also returns to the lineup.
"Erika is working on her footwork," Cinadr said. "She has some experience under her belt and we want her to be more of a vocal leader."
Senior Megan Brickman is expected to be a utility player who could spend much of her time at first base. She is a first-year varsity player.
"Megan is a good listener with great fundamentals," Cinadr said.
First-year sophomore Annie Dowell is a utility player who will be more of a slap hitter.
"Annie make great contact," Cinadr said. "We'll definitely use her in the lineup."
The outfield consists of senior Alex Bingham and junior Nicole Means, who will spend time in center field, and Katie Maggio (right fielder).
"Alex is a hard work and is very positive," Cinadr said. "Nicole is a returning varsity player. We want her to be more of a talker since a center fielder is the captain of the outfield. She has a good bat. Katie is a slapper who is quick. We moved her to the left side to be a slapper."
Hudson has three pitchers on its roster. They are junior right-hander Shayna Smith, freshman right-hander Nikki Turner and junior southpaw Lexi Dorr.
"We'll use Shayna the most," Cinadr said. "She has a great variety of pitches. When she's in the zone, she performs at a high level.
"Nikki has really impressed us. She's working on her mechanics. We're hoping to get her some experience in relief. Lexi is a very athletic girl who is very coachable."
Also on the team are utility players Olivia Pack, a senior, and Emily Hookway, a junior.
Cinadr's assistants are Jeff Gough, who is Kelly Gough's older brother, and Jeff Kurtz, who were with the team last year. The junior varsity head coach is Caroline Ujvari. Her assistant is Mike Smith.
Hudson is scheduled to make its season debut April 1 at Brecksville-Broadview Heights. The Lady Explorers' first home game is April 3 against Eastlake North. First pitch is set for 4:30 p.m. both days.