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Hudson softball holds off Cuyahoga Falls

By FRANK ACETO Associate Sports Editor Published: April 5, 2017 12:01 AM
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CUYAHOGA FALLS -- Both teams played on the dirt for the first time last week.

And when they took the field against each other April 3, they had to deal with drizzle throughout the game and several muddy spots.

As a result, pitching and defense weren't exactly in midseason form for the Hudson and Cuyahoga Falls softball teams.

The bats, on the other hand, seem to be doing just fine.

Unfortunately for the Lady Black Tigers, the Lady Explorers' offense had just a bit more ammunition.

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Hudson earned its first victory of the season after posting a 16-13 win over host Falls in a Suburban League National Conference showdown April 3 at Harrington Field.

The Lady Explorers scored runs in bunches only to see the Lady Black Tigers respond.

Hudson appeared to be in the driver's seat when it scored eight runs in the top of the fifth inning to take a 14-5 lead.

However, the Lady Black Tigers crept back in the game and actually had the tying run at the plate with two outs in the bottom of the seventh.

But Lady Explorers' junior right-hander Mariah Duncan got sophomore right-handed pitcher Cynthia Stanfield to hit a grounder right back to the circle for the final out with runners on second and third. Duncan pitched all seven innings to get the win in the circle.

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For Hudson, it was a sigh of relief after a rough go in its first two games on the road.

The Lady Explorers (1-2, 1-0) picked up their first win of the season after being humbled by Lebanon 12-1 March 30 and Kings Mills Kings 18-1 March 31 on the road.

"It's nice," Hudson first-year head coach Jeff Kurtz said. "It's my first win as a head coach; it's our first win of the season; and it's our first league win. It was a good effort."

It seemed like no matter how many times Falls counterpunched the Lady Explorers, Hudson seemed to have an answer to get some distance on the scoreboard.

The Lady Explorers led 3-0 after the top of the first. The Lady Black Tigers tied the game at three in the bottom of the second and then Hudson scored three runs in the top of the third to make it 6-3.

Falls then scored two runs in the fourth to cut its deficit to 6-5 before the Lady Explorers exploded in the top of the fifth.

The Lady Black Tigers (0-3, 0-3) trimmed their margin to 14-10 with four runs in the top of the sixth, but again, Hudson countered with two runs in the top of the seventh before Falls put up three more runs in the bottom of the inning.

"They hit a lot of balls to the gaps," Lady Black Tigers head coach Kim Applegarth said of the Lady Explorers. "We've had no practices on the dirt yet, but we battled to the bitter end."

Hudson finished with 18 hits and two errors. The Lady Explorers also left eight runners on base.

Duncan, who hit her first home run against Lebanon, hit round tripper No. 2 in the top of the first. Her three-run blast was the start of a huge game for the junior.

Duncan finished 5-for-5 at the plate and drove in four runs and scored four runs. Two of her hits were doubles.

Sara Gedeon also had a stellar performance at the plate for Hudson.

The senior designated player smashed four hits, including a double, to go with five runs batted in and four runs scored.

All told, the Lady Explorers had nine players reach base at least once.

Junior third baseman Martha Masich had two hits, including a triple, to go with three RBIs and a run scored. Senior center fielder Gillian Swan reached base four times and finished with two hits, including a double, and two runs scored.

Freshman first baseman Olivia Stafenanoni also reached base four times and had two hits, including a double, a run scored and a sacrifice fly. Junior second baseman Kayla Tucciarelli smacked a two-run double for Hudson.

"Last week was the first time we've been outside," Kurtz said. "I don't want to make excuses. The first time I hit ground balls was at Mason in pregame last week. We've been on the football field.

"(April 3), we came out aggressive at the plate. We swung at good pitches and we had good hitters' counts quite a bit. We took advantage of our opportunities."

The main reason why Falls made things interesting was the offensive theatrics of junior shortstop Brianna Andexler.

The standout leadoff hitter reached base in all five of her at bats and belted two home runs.

Her first round tripper tied the game at three in the second and her second homer trimmed Hudson's lead to 6-5 in the fourth.

Andexler also had two singles and a walk. She drove in a game-high six runs and scored four times.

"Brianna was our best hitter last year," Applegarth said. "She was perfect at the plate. She takes what they give her."

Senior center fielder Kyia Saxon had two hits, including a double, four RBIs and a run scored for the Lady Black Tigers.

Junior catcher/left-handed pitcher Tori Rogers had a single and a double and two runs scored and junior designated player Alex Eves had two singles, two RBIs and a run scored for Falls.

Senior right-hander Hailey Miles started the game and took the loss. She was relieved by Rogers in the third. Stanfield relieved Rogers in the fifth and finished the game.

The Lady Black Tigers finished with 14 hits and four errors. Falls left seven runners on base.

Duncan (1-1) struck out six batters and issued five walks in seven innings of work.

"The two pitches to 44 (Andexler) are pitches Mariah wants back," Kurtz said. "She's clearly a good hitter. We can't leave the ball that far over the plate. In the end, it's a win. We'll take it."

The Lady Explorers were scheduled to host National Conference rival Stow-Munroe Falls April 4. Results were not available at press time.

Hudson is set to entertain National Conference foe Twinsburg April 6 before heading to Mantua play Crestwood April 7. Both varsity games are scheduled to begin at 4:30 p.m.

The Lady Explorers are set to host Shaker Heights April 8. First pitch is scheduled for 11 a.m.

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