KENT — Prior to the game, Sam Petrash was noticeably disturbed by his team’s warm-up.
"Our energy was down," the first-year Aurora head softball coach said. "We talked about it. We have to be prepared since the rest of the season features the big dogs."
Perhaps his players could sense their coach’s lack of approval once the game began.
One way or another, they sure got the message.
The Lady Greenmen improved to 8-3 overall and 7-0 in the Suburban League American Conference after earning a lopsided 20-0 victory over Theodore Roosevelt.
The game, which was called after five innings due to the 10-run mercy rule, was played Thursday in Kent.
With the win, Aurora remains in the driver’s seat for the American Conference title. But the trophy is not within the Lady Greenmen’s grasp yet.
Aurora still has conference rivals Tallmadge, Revere, Highland and Barberton waiting in the wings.
"I’ll never question the intensity and effort," Petrash said. "Sometimes, we lose a little bit of focus. We picked up our energy."
As for the Lady Rough Riders, who are led by head coach Becky Myer, things fell apart rather quickly.
The Lady Greenmen took advantage of walks, errors and some strong hitting to score 12 runs in the top of the third to put the game away.
Roosevelt’s pitching duo of right-handers Kelsey Titko and Adreane Crockett walked a total of eight batters and Aurora finished with 15 hits.
Neither hurler got much help from their defense as the Lady Rough Riders committed four errors.
"Becky is a good coach," Petrash said. "She is doing the right things and she has a lot of young players."
Myer could not be reached for comment after the game.
All nine Lady Greenmen batters scored at least one run. However, the star of the game for Aurora was pitcher Rachael Dudziak.
The right-hander allowed just three baserunners and struck out four batters in five innings of work. The lone hit was a bloop infield hit by Titko in the first inning.
Dudziak was in a minimal amount of trouble in the second. But she got a ground ball to short for the third out with runners on first and second.
Other than that, Dudziak painted the corners with her riseball and off-speed pitches and her defense was sharp throughout the afternoon.
All 15 of Roosevelt’s outs took place in the infield.
"Rachael threw a great game," Petrash said. "We have to teach her how to miss more, but she hit her spots and pounded the strike zone."
Dudziak also showed her prowess at the plate.
She reached base in all five of her plate appearances and had three hits.
The highlight was her grand slam over the left-center-field fence in the third. She finished with three hits and six RBIs.
Dudziak’s gem in the circle was aided by the savvy and high softball IQ of her catcher, Aleese Angelo, who had a knack for framing pitches on both sides of the plate throughout the game. She also had three hits at the plate.
"Rachael and Aleese have worked together since they were eight years old," Petrash said. "Aleese is the engine of our team."
Designated player Raye Palko also teed off when she saw a pitch she liked. She finished with three hits, including a double, and drove in five runs.
Left fielder Lauren Callahan added two singles and two runs scored and shortstop Tayler Cassidy had a single and two runs scored.
Center fielder Becca Crawford, Aurora’s leadoff batter, reached base in all five of her plate appearances and scored three runs.
Despite all of the poor weather and all of the cancellations, the tournament draw is scheduled for this Sunday.
While Petrash believes his team has to fix a few leaks, the Lady Greenmen are determined to make a deep postseason run.
"We’re still a work in progress," Petrash said. "I think there is a mutual respect. They’re accustomed to playing a certain style and I’m accustomed to a certain style. We’re looking for that happy medium."
Reporter Frank Aceto can be reached at 330-541-9444, firstname.lastname@example.org or @FrankAceto_RPC.