by Frank Aceto

Associate Sports Editor

Kent -- Eleven innings, stellar pitching, several missed opportunities, a controversial call and a walk-off home run.

That could describe the first Division I softball district semifinal game May 17 at Kent State University.

Thanks to a walk-off two-run homer by senior center fielder Beth Cinadr, top-seeded Hudson escaped with a thrilling 5-3 victory over fourth-seeded Cuyahoga Falls.

With the win, the top-seeded Lady Explorers (23-3) earned a date in a district championship game against the Brunswick-Wadsworth winner May 18. The Brunswick-Wadsworth contest was expected to follow the Hudson-Falls' game. Results of those contests were not available at press time.

With the score tied at 3-3 in the bottom of the 11th, Cinadr smacked a 2-2 fastball over the center-field fence against right-hander Amber Myers, who threw every pitch for Falls (17-6).

Cinadr, who will play at the University of Purdue next season, got jammed in two other at bats against Myers, which led to easy infield outs.

"I figured she was due," said Hudson head coach Amy Densevich.

With a base open, the Lady Black Tigers decided to roll the dice with Cinadr, who entered the game with a team-leading .486 batting average.

"The next batter, Kelley Cash, is just as good," said Falls veteran head coach Kim Applegarth.

Good point.

Cash, a shortstop who is heading to Belmont University (Tenn.), had a .396 batting average. But she was hitless in five at bats.

The Lady Explorers thought they had the game won in the 10th.

With two outs and runners on first and second, Elizabeth Stokes sent a deep drive to center. Falls' senior center fielder Joyce Mull made a nifty running catch and Hudson right-handed pitcher Mandy Krutzler, who was on second base, advanced to third.

The throw toward the plate, however, was misplayed, and Krutzler wound up scoring what appeared to be the winning run. The Hudson players celebrated as Krutzler touched home.

And then something peculiar happened.

After a long delay, Myers threw to second base to appeal the play. The umpires ruled Krutzler left second too early and was called out. And just like that, the game continued.

"We thought she left too early," said Applegarth.

Densevich tried to plead her case with the umpires, but she realized the call would not be reversed.

"That's the biggest lesson we learned," she said. "You never want to have a game decided on an umpire's call."

Both teams had their chances late in the game.

The Lady Black Tigers had runners on the corners with one out in the 10th inning but failed to get a run home. Hudson had the bases loaded in the ninth and did not score.

In the end, Krutzler, who took the mound in the fourth inning, got the win. She improved to 11-2 on the season. Myers suffered the hard-luck loss.

The Lady Explorers took a 2-0 lead in the bottom of the first. Left-hander Mindy Meredith, who struck out the first six batters and finished with 10 strikeouts on the mound, drove in the first run with a run-scoring grounder to second. Another run scored on the play on an errant throw.

Falls tied the game in the fourth.

Junior third baseman Lynn Repasky drove in the first run with a run-scoring double to right and Mull tied the game with a single.

The Lady Black Tigers took a 3-2 lead in the sixth when Repasky drove in the go-ahead run with a single to right. The Lady Explorers tied the game with an unearned run in the bottom of the sixth.

Hudson manufactured a run despite making the first two outs in the frame.

Mull and shortstop Beth Ramey, a four-year starter who doubled in the third, played in their final game for Falls.

"It was a hard-fought game," said Applegarth. "We had a great season. We improved in every aspect of the game from beginning to end."

E-mail: faceto@recordpub.com

Phone: 330-686-3914