by Frank Aceto
Associate Sports Editor
Cuyahoga Falls -- As her team's lead grew smaller and smaller, Hudson first-year head softball coach Beth Cinadr simply allowed things to be as they may.
"I wasn't nervous," she said. "I was going to let them fight through it.
"What I can take from this is I knew the girls were never worried."
They had no reason to be.
The Lady Explorers improved to 3-2 on the season and 1-0 in the Northeast Ohio Conference River Division after posting an 8-4 victory over Cuyahoga Falls April 15 at Harrington Field.
Hudson had the game in hand until things got a little interesting in the final inning.
Trailing 8-1, the Lady Black Tigers (2-4, 0-1) scored three times in the bottom of the seventh.
Despite all the fireworks from their opponents, the Lady Explorers, behind southpaw Lexi Dorr, closed the deal. Dorr went the distance on the mound to pick up the win. She allowed two earned runs and seven hits.
"We're trying to build Lexi's strength and endurance, so it was good to see her go the full seven innings," Cinadr said.
Falls' first-year head coach Kori Brown saw some positive things too.
Although Hudson was in control the entire game, the Lady Black Tigers had several hard-hit balls that had a knack for finding fielders' gloves.
Falls certainly didn't get cheated. The Lady Black Tigers did not strike out once during the game.
"I'm definitely happy," Brown said. "Yes, it's a loss, but we were in it until the end. We just have to figure out how to make things happen earlier in the game. You can't be upset about that game."
Hudson took a 1-0 lead in the top of the first, thanks to a triple by Kelly Gough and a run-scoring single by Katie Maggio.
The Lady Explorers added two runs in the third and two more in the fourth to take a 5-0 lead. Aislinn Sharkey made it 5-0 with a two-run double toward the fence in center field.
Falls finally got on the board in the bottom of the fifth when Kendahl Clifford ripped a run-scoring double to center.
Hudson came right back with three runs in the sixth. Nicole Means had a run-scoring single in the frame.
The Lady Black Tigers, who lost a 28-0 decision to the Lady Explorers at Harrington Field last year, didn't back down.
The first three batters reached base and Hannah Shane made it 8-4 when she smacked a triple toward the fence in right field.
Dorr retired the final hitter on a ground out to end the game.
"We had great intensity in the beginning of the game, but I thought we lost a little bit of it later in the game," Cinadr said. "We need to keep up the intensity for the whole game and fight to the last pitch."
Sharkey led Hudson's 13-hit attack with three hits. She also scored two runs and drove in three runs.
Gough turned a single into a double in the sixth, thanks to her heads-up baserunning and scored three times. Erika Howard added three hits and scored three runs. She also drove in a run.
"We have a couple of girls, Kelly Gough and Erika Howard, who can make decisions fast," Cinadr said. "They have quick reactions, which allows them to take that extra base."
Clifford had two hits and two runs batted in. She also scored a run. Sam Rightley scored two runs for Falls.
Lady Black Tigers' right-hander Kaitlyn Fryberger allowed five earned runs in seven innings of work. She finished with seven strikeouts. Both teams had three errors.
The Lady Explorers are scheduled to visit River Division rival Solon April 17 at 4:30 p.m.
They are set to play Louisville in a doubleheader April 20 on the road. First pitch is scheduled for noon.