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by Frank Aceto
Associate Sports Editor
Twinsburg -- Earlier in the season, the Hudson softball team paid a visit to Twinsburg and came away with a 9-5 victory.
Such a fact wasn't forgotten by Tigers head coach Tiffany Yehle before her team's home game with the Lady Explorers May 14.
And this contest had far more significance.
"We reminded them that they beat us at our place," Yehle said. "We wanted to make sure it didn't happen again."
Despite a bizarre first inning, Yehle got her wish.
Twinsburg advanced to a Division I sectional title contest after posting an 11-5 win over Hudson, a Northeast Ohio Conference River Division rival.
Everything went wrong for the Tigers (8-14) in the top of the first.
The Lady Explorers sent 10 batters to the plate in the inning to take a 4-0 lead. Leadoff hitter Kelly Gough got it started when she smacked a solo home run on the third pitch she saw over the fence in left field.
After allowing run-scoring singles to Aislinn Sharkey and Nicole Means, Twinsburg starter Savanna Backo was removed from the game after just 13 pitches.
Hudson (6-15) added another run when the very next batter, Nikki Turner, hit a bloop single to right off freshman right-hander Nicole Brown, who escaped further damage by getting the last two outs.
"That was the best start we had all season," Lady Explorers' first-year head coach Beth Cinadr said.
Oddly enough, such a woeful start might have been just what the doctor ordered for the Tigers.
Twinsburg stunned the Lady Explorers with nine runs in the bottom of the first.
The Tigers didn't need to do much to get back in the game.
Turner, a right-hander, had trouble hitting her spots. Twinsburg scored its first run, thanks to four consecutive walks by Turner to start the inning.
When Turner found the strike zone, she almost pulled off a Houdini-like escape.
After allowing a run-scoring bloop single to Holly Adkins, Turner retired the next two batters.
But Twinsburg showed it could be very productive in two-out situations.
The next six batters reached base, which led to seven more runs.
Alyssa Carcioppolo tied the game when she smacked a two-run single and Nicole Brown gave Twinsburg the lead for good on what may have been the most important play of the game.
Brown legged out an infield single, which scored the go-ahead run from the third. As Hudson tried to gun down Brown, another run scored on the play.
"That was a key play when Nicole beat out the throw," Yehle said. "The girls played hard the entire game. It was very exciting to see."
Megan Brown and Nicole Markey added run-scoring singles to cap the scoring. Megan Brown's single knocked Turner out of the game. Left-hander Lexi Dorr finished the game for the Lady Explorers.
"Twinsburg showed a good eye at the plate," Cinadr said. "It was a battle to the end. I wish Twinsburg luck. I hope they represent the conference well."
The Lady Explorers scored their other run in the second on Means' run-scoring single. The Tigers scored an unearned run in the fourth and Kourtney Paul capped the scoring for Twinsburg in the sixth with a run-scoring single.
Nicole Brown finished the game to get the win. She improved to 2-6 on the season.
Although Hudson had an uphill battle for much of the game, Cinadr was pleased to see her players continue their enthusiastic cheerleading. Cinadr emphasized a positive attitude throughout the season and her players never let her down.
"I was happy to see that," she said.
The Lady Explorers were scheduled to host Hudson in a River Division contest May 17. Results were not available at press time.
After that game, Cinadr will say goodbye to four seniors.
They are Gough, Aislinn Sharkey, Alex Bingham and Shelby Bitter, who missed most of the season with a leg injury.
"It was great that the rest of the girls got to play with them," Cinadr said. "They got to see first-hand what leaders are like. They are great role models. I hope the rest of the girls follow in their footsteps."