CUYAHOGA FALLS — One team has plenty of veterans and has hopes of competing for the Suburban League National Conference title.
The other squad is loaded with inexperienced underclassmen who are playing positions for the first time.
The end result?
Unfortunately for the Cuyahoga Falls softball team, it was rather lopsided.
Stow-Munroe Falls improved to 3-1 overall and 3-1 in the National Conference after posting a convincing 11-0 victory over its archrival Friday.
The contest took place at Harrington Field in Cuyahoga Falls.
With the loss, the Lady Black Tigers fell to 0-4 overall and 0-4 in the conference.
The Lady Bulldogs responded well after being handed their first loss of the season some 24 hours earlier.
Stow suffered a 2-1 defeat to National Conference rival North Royalton Thursday at Weddle Park.
On Friday, the Lady Bulldogs’ provided plenty of offensive production from the get-go and cruised the rest of the way.
"We definitely held our character," first-year Stow head coach Allison Lewandowski said. "We take every opponent seriously and we took it to Falls. Our bats came alive."
The Lady Bulldogs smacked 11 hits, got a one-hit shutout from right-hander Katie Kelly and took advantage of Falls’ miscues.
The Lady Black Tigers committed five errors, including four in the third inning that led to five unearned runs.
"We start four freshmen and a sophomore and (senior right-handed pitcher) Tori Rogers and (junior catcher) Janella Farmer are the only players who played the same spots last year," longtime Falls head coach Kim Applegarth said. "We’re having some growing pains."
Stow took advantage of two hits, a wild pitch, a walk and an error to score three runs in the first.
Junior center fielder Clare O’Verko blasted the first pitch of the game toward the fence in center field for a triple off Rogers, who went the distance in the pitcher’s circle. O’Verko eventually scored on a wild pitch.
The Lady Bulldogs made it 5-0 in the second when senior right fielder Rachel Mosko drove in two runs with a bloop single to shallow center.
And then the wheels came off for the Lady Black Tigers.
Falls had trouble hitting the cutoff man a number of times, which allowed Stow to take the extra base.
"It has been exactly the same way the whole week," Applegarth said. "It’s errors, errors and more errors. We just need to play more games. You can’t simulate the games in practice."
O’Verko delivered the big blow in the third with a two-run single to center.
As for the Lady Bulldogs, they were, for the most part, flawless the entire game.
Besides the strong hitting and masterful pitching, Stow made all of the plays and did not commit a single error.
"We are fundamentally sound," Lewandowski said. "They are working hard. We’re trying to change the culture. It’s not that much different. We’re just doing more drill work and focusing on the basics. We’re peeling back the onion a little bit."
A strong pitching effort can certainly aid the fundamental aspects of the game.
Kelly improved to 3-0 on the season with five strong innings of work. She struck out 11 batters and allowed a two-out single in the second by senior first baseman Anna Steiner and a two-out walk to Farmer in the fourth.
"Katie is still growing," Lewandowski said. "She has really shown great composure. We’re working on building her confidence level."
The Lady Bulldogs are scheduled to play Champion (11:15 a.m.) and Chardon (3:45 p.m.) Saturday at Firestone Stadium in Akron.
They are set to play Akron Archbishop Hoban Sunday at Firestone. First pitch is scheduled for 9 a.m.
Stow’s busy schedule will continue next week.
The Lady Bulldogs are set to visit North Royalton Monday before returning home to face National Conference foes Wadsworth Tuesday and Hudson Wednesday.
Stow is scheduled to entertain Suburban League crossover rival Highland Thursday before heading to Wadsworth Friday. All five games are set to begin at 4:30 p.m.
On April 21, the Lady Bulldogs are scheduled to host their "Coach Doug Hawkins Dedication Game" in honor of their former coach. Hawkins was Stow’s head coach for several years before retiring at the end of last season.
The Lady Bulldogs are set to play North Lima South Range at 11 a.m. and the dedication game is scheduled for 3 p.m. against Suburban League crossover foe Tallmadge.
T-shirts and bracelets will be available for purchase to help the Hawkins family with medical expenses for Mr. Hawkins’ battle with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis.
Baked goods also will be for sale and raffle basket items donated by alumni will be available.
After the game, a home run derby is set to take place.
The Lady Black Tigers are scheduled to host the Battle of the Falls Saturday at 11 a.m.
Falls is scheduled to visit National Conference rival Twinsburg Monday before returning home to play conference foe Brecksville-Broadview Heights Tuesday and Wadsworth Thursday. All three games are set to begin at 4:30 p.m.
Falls is scheduled to entertain Akron Firestone April 21 at 11 a.m.
Reporter Frank Aceto can be reached at 330-541-9444, firstname.lastname@example.org or @FrankAceto_RPC.