by Michael Leonard
Hudson -- Lady Explorers' first-year head softball coach Don Sewell has been trying to get his team to improve every game.
Hudson has shown improvement lately, especially at the plate.
But the Lady Explorers' first win the in Northeast Ohio Conference River Division remains elusive, thanks to a tenacious Cuyahoga Falls' squad.
The Lady Black Tigers weathered a late comeback attempt by Hudson to hold on for a 7-6 win April 21 at Hudson.
Falls improved to 5-4 overall and 2-0 in the River Division.
The Lady Explorers, who earned an 11-4 win over River Division rival Solon April 23 at home and lost a 6-1 decision to River Division foe Twinsburg April 22 on the road, dropped to 2-9 overall and 1-3 in the River Division.
Hudson finished with a 14-8 edge in hits in the loss, including two doubles and two triples.
However, the difference in the game was a number of free passes the Lady Black Tigers drew.
Lady Explorers' starting pitcher Shayna Smith (0-3) and reliever Nikki Turner combined to give up seven walks and four hit batsmen.
"Until we are able to work in the strike zone, we're going to struggle," Sewell said. "For us, we're starting to find out who we are. As long as I can keep the girls positive, we should be fine."
Falls head coach Kori Brown said her team did a decent job taking advantage of its scoring opportunities, though she would have liked to have seen a lot more.
"They may have outhit us, but you've got to take what they offer," Brown said. "Our defense held them. We made some pretty good plays, but we left a lot of runners on base. That's unacceptable."
A case in point for the Lady Black Tigers was the top of the first inning, which Allie Bennett led off with a triple. After a walk and a hit batsman loaded the bases, catcher Briann Hamric drew a bases loaded walk to make it 1-0.
Third baseman Kimmie Carrell later hit a run-scoring single to make it 2-0, but Falls left the bases loaded.
Carrell got a second run-scoring single in the top of the third, driving home shortstop Cailie Collins to make it 3-0.
Hudson got on the board in the bottom of the third after Falls' lone error of the game was followed by singles from Erika Howard and Sara Gedeon.
Center fielder Nicole Means then drew a bases-loaded walk make to make it 3-1, but Howard was forced out at the plate on a fielder's choice.
Third baseman Emily Hookway legged out an infield single to score Gedeon.
However, the Lady Black Tigers responded with four runs in the top of the fourth and did so with only one hit. First baseman Kristy Fryberger had a one-out single to load the bases.
After that, Falls drew a walk and had two hit batsmen to score three runs. The final run scored when Kate Lukosavich reached base on an error, making it 7-2 Falls in the middle of the fourth inning.
To its credit, Hudson attempted a comeback.
With one out in the bottom of the fifth, catcher Eden Janesch smashed a triple off the fence and came home on a wild pitch. After a Turner single, Brown lifted starting pitcher Samantha Rightley in favor of Kristy Fryberger.
However, Fryberger then gave up a double to Hookway to make it 7-4.
Hudson kept coming in the sixth inning as Gedeon smacked a one-out double. That was followed by a run-scoring triple form Nicole Means. Means later scored on a fielder's choice cutting it to 7-6 after six inning.
Fryberger's power paid off in the bottom of the seventh. Although the Lady Explorers had Howard on third base and Gedeon on second with two outs, Fryberger struck out Means to end the game.
Against Solon, Hudson scored four runs in the second and took the lead for good with four runs in the fourth.
The Lady Explorers added three more runs in the sixth and finished with nine hits and two errors.
The Comets finished with seven hits and three errors. Turner got the win in the circle to improve to 2-3.
Emily Hookway had a triple, a run scored and three runs batted in and Janesch had a triple and two runs scored.
"We stayed strong through the game," Sewell said. "We did not try to do too much with pitches. We used the pitch location to hit it where it was pitched.
"We were aggressive on the bases. We took advantage of chances to score runs. It was a team effort. Every player contributed to this win."
Against Twinsburg, Hudson finished with five hits and three errors. Gedeon took the loss. She allowed just three earned runs on seven hits and issued six walks.
The Lady Explorers were scheduled to compete at the Prebis Memorial April 25 and 26 at Wellington Community Park. Results were not available at press time.
Hudson is set to visit River Division foes Mayfield April 28 and Stow-Munroe Falls April 29. Both games are scheduled to begin at 4:30 p.m.