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Softball suffers pair of conference defeats

By FRANK ACETO Associate Sports Editor Published: May 7, 2017 12:00 AM
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TWINSBURG -- During the first half of the season, the Twinsburg softball team suffered defeats to Hudson, Stow-Munroe Falls, Nordonia and Brecksville-Broadview Heights.

Let's just say the results have been much better for the Lady Tigers the second time around against those Suburban League National Conference opponents.

Twinsburg defeated Stow, Nordonia and Brecksville in round two.

The Lady Tigers had a chance to get more revenge against another conference rival that got the best of them earlier.

Mission accomplished.

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Host Twinsburg improved to 10-9 overall and 6-7 in the conference after earning a 4-2 win over the Lady Explorers May 3.

After a slow start, the Lady Tigers had won nine of their last 11 games as of press time.

"We're starting to roll a little bit," Twinsburg head coach Chris Shaffer said. "[Senior shortstop] Najah Thornton came back after missing the first six games. With her out, we had some people playing out of position. Our five seniors have brought this team together."

The Lady Tigers' defense gunned down a runner at the plate and another player in between the plate and third base for a double play in the first three innings.

"We would like to be more aggressive with our decisions on the base paths," Hudson head coach Jeff Kurtz said. "The problem is that we have been struggling to string hits together."

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Twinsburg's bats certainly didn't.

The Lady Tigers scored three runs on four hits in the bottom of the first.

Center fielder Jada Farmer got things started at the leadoff spot with a triple on a ball that landed just inches away from touching the foul line in right field.

Second baseman Marissa Thirion drove in Farmer with a sacrifice fly to center and Thornton blasted a double off the fence in center.

After starting Lady Explorers' right-hander Mariah Duncan got the next batter for the second out, first baseman Katie Elnikar made it 2-0 with a run-scoring double to the right-center field gap.

Right fielder Gabrielle Grumbos drove in the last run of the inning with a double to deep center.

"Mariah left some pitches out over the plate," Kurtz said. "She beat them 9-0 earlier in the season, so we didn't have any concerns about her. She had a rough first inning."

Hudson (6-13, 6-9) got on the board in the fifth, thanks to an error, a sacrifice bunt by left fielder Kayla Tucciarelli and a run-scoring, hard-hit single off the shortstop's glove by shortstop Cami Madar.

But Twinsburg had a quick answer.

Right-handed pitcher Emily Adams, who kept the Lady Explorers off balance with her off-speed pitch much of the afternoon, had a single to start the bottom of the fifth before being replaced by courtesy runner Brooke Pleta.

Pleta eventually came around to score on a pair of infield errors by Hudson.

The Lady Explorers had one last shot in the seventh.

Second baseman Sadie Mrakuzic led off the inning with a single and went all the way to third when the ball was mishandled in the outfield.

Tucciarelli, who had a double and a triple in her first two at bats, drove Mrakuzic home with a line-drive single that went off the shortstop's glove.

But Adams, who threw just 70 pitches, got the next two Hudson batters to fly out to end the game.

"We have been talking about seeing some pitches," Kurtz said. "We've been taking some pretty good pitches and then we swing at not very good pitches."

Elnikar and Adams each had two hits for the Lady Tigers and Madar and catcher Lydia Riddell each had two hits for the Lady Explorers.

Adams struck out three batters and walked none in the complete-game win.

"She pitches to contact," Shaffer said of Adams. "We played good defense behind her. We've turned some wild double plays."

Duncan took the loss and finished with four strikeouts and three walks in seven innings of work.

Twinsburg finished with eight hits and three errors and Hudson had 10 hits and two errors.

The Lady Tigers stranded seven runners and were just 2 of 14 with runners on base. The Lady Explorers stranded eight runners and were 2 for 10 with runners in scoring position.

Host Hudson lost to National Conference rival Wadsworth May 2.

The Lady Explorers scored their run in the fourth inning. Mrakuzic had a double and eventually scored on a double by Madar.

Right-hander Sara Gedeon took the loss in the pitcher's circle. She finished with seven strikeouts and gave up three runs on two home runs in the seventh.

Hudson, which had lost four straight games as of press time, was scheduled to entertain Mogadore Field in a doubleheader May 6. Results of those games were not available at press time.

The Lady Explorers are set to host National Conference foe Brecksville-Broadview Heights May 8.

Sixth-seeded Hudson is scheduled to entertain 11th-seeded Akron Firestone in a Barberton Division I sectional semifinal game May 9. Both games are set to begin at 4:30 p.m.

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