by Michael Leonard
Hudson -- In the not so distant past, Stow-Munroe Falls-Hudson was one of the most significant softball rivalries in Northeast Ohio.
It's still a rivalry game, but the Lady Bulldogs put some distance between themselves and their neighbors to the north in recent years.
That trend continued April 18 at Hudson.
Stow jumped on the Lady Explorers early and often as the Bulldogs secured a 13-0 win in five innings.
Hudson also lost 12-3 and 15-8 decisions to Louisville April 19 at home.
The Lady Bulldogs improved to 6-2 overall and 1-0 in the Northeast Ohio Conference River Division, while the Lady Explorers dropped to 1-7 overall and 0-1 in the division.
Stow head coach Doug Hawkins said his team was moving in the right direction.
"We're right where we need to be," Hawkins said. "I keep telling the girls that we just need to get a little better every day. Our outfield is playing much better."
The Lady Bulldogs' defense didn't have its best day as Stow committed three errors. Hawkins noted there were several bad hops that bedeviled his team.
Pitching-wise, Lady Bulldogs' junior right-hander Sadie Jones (3-1) was on her game, allowing just two hits, no runs and no walks, while striking out five.
By contrast, Hudson starting pitcher Nikki Turner (1-2) gave up 13 earned runs off 11 hits and six walks in her five innings of work.
Lady Explorers' first-year head coach Don Sewell said he knew his team needed a great effort if it was going to compete with Stow.
"We told them to stay relaxed," he said. "We knew coming into the game they were going to put a lot of balls in play. We knew they were going to hit the ball hard."
While the Lady Bulldogs got contributions from all over their lineup, center fielder Jenni Heid had a game to remember, belting two home runs and driving in four runs.
Stow opened with three runs in the first, thanks to a run-scoring single from third baseman Chrissie Vaughan and two throwing errors by the Lady Explorers.
The Lady Bulldogs made it 4-0 in the second when second baseman Beckah Jones led off with a single and came home on a run-scoring single from Erin Kolke.
Heid provided the offensive in the third as she smacked a three-run homer to the left-field fence.
Up 7-0 heading into the fifth, Stow put the contest away with six runs in the fifth.
Heid led off the inning with her second home run, this time clearing the fence in right-center field.
Kayla Esterle then walked, stole second and came home on a run-scoring single from Beckah Jones.
Sarah Schmidt then singled and Erin Sadler grounded out to third, allowing Beckah Jones to score.
Kolke then hit her second run-scoring single of the game. Sadie Jones and Vaughan then walked. Kolke scored on a wild pitch and Sadie Jones scored on a throwing error to make it 13-0.
Turner led off the bottom of the fifth with a bloop single, but Jones retired the next three batters in order to invoke the 10-run mercy rule.
In the 12-3 loss to Louisville, Sara Gedeon pitched a complete game. Eden Janesch and Maddie Sullivan each had two singles for Hudson, which trailed 3-2 after five innings.
"It was a well-played game through the first five innings," Sewell said. "We had a couple of untimely errors and we walked batters. Louisville also made some good hitting adjustments."
In the 15-8 loss, Turner went the distance in the circle. Gedeon had a three-run homer over the right-center field fence.
"We need to continue to work hard finishing games," Sewell said. "We also need to adapt quicker at the plate. We are playing better. Our spirits are still up and we are going to continue working to get a win."
The host Lady Explorers lost a 13-11 decision to Brookside April 17. Lexi Dorr hit a grand slam for Hudson.
The Lady Explorers were scheduled to host River Division foe Cuyahoga Falls April 21. Results were not available at press time.
They are set to host River Division rival Solon April 23 at 4:30 p.m. before heading to the Prebis Memorial April 25 and 26 at Wellington Community Park.
Hudson is scheduled to play Lorain Clearview April 25 at 4:30 p.m., Cleveland St. Joseph April 26 at noon and Westlake April 26 at 2:45 p.m.