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.

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, who also lost to National Conference rival Nordonia 15-4 in six innings April 6 at Harrington Field, 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.

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 (0-4, 0-4) 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.

"[On 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 senior 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.

"Kyia was injured part of the season last year," Applegarth said. "She rehabbed all summer. Tori has stepped in where she left off last year."

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, who suffered a 9-1 loss to National Conference foe Wadsworth March 30 on the road, 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."

Andexler had two doubles and scored the lone run against the Lady Grizzlies.

The Lady Black Tigers had six hits and four errors against the Lady Knights. Nordonia had nine hits and one error. Stanfield took the loss in the circle for Falls.

Eves had two singles and three RBIs and Andexler had a double and an RBI.

The Lady Black Tigers were scheduled to visit National Conference archrival Stow-Munroe Falls April 6 at Weddle Park. They were set to host Bainbridge Township Kenston April 7. Results of those games were not available at press time.

Falls is scheduled to entertain National Conference foe North Royalton April 10 before heading to Twinsburg for a National Conference showdown April 11. Both games are set to begin at 4:30 p.m.

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