HUDSON — Jeff Kurtz certainly isn’t going to jump to conclusions.
At the same time, though, the veteran Hudson head softball coach knows his players are having a blast.
Why not? No one ever said being undefeated wasn’t fun.
The Explorers improved to 5-0 overall and 3-0 in the Suburban League National Conference after earning a commanding 9-1 victory over host Cuyahoga Falls. The contest took place Monday at Harrington Field.
Hudson demoralized the Black Tigers with eight runs in the top of the second inning. Junior southpaw Olivia Stefanoni did the rest in the pitching circle as the Explorers, who are coming off two straight losing seasons, remain perfect against some pretty solid competition thus far.
"I think the girls are enjoying how we’re playing right now," Kurtz said. "I think we’ve gotten really solid pitching performances thus far.
"If we keep that up and keep swinging the bats like we’ve done, we’re going to win more games than we’re going to lose. It makes everybody feel better about it."
The Falls’ players have been feeling good about themselves, too. And pardon the Black Tigers for not having much pity on their northern rivals’ struggles in recent years.
Falls has been scuffling for more than a decade. Prior to Monday’s game, the Black Tigers (3-2, 1-2) rattled off two straight wins.
Unfortunately, Falls couldn’t keep Hudson’s explosive batters off the base. The Black Tigers also had some costly mental lapses that didn’t particularly help their self-esteem.
"We just didn’t put our best foot forward against a team where you need to put your best foot forward," longtime Falls head coach Kim Applegarth said. "We had a couple physical errors, mental errors.
"You can’t give a team extra outs like that. That’s exactly what we did and they took advantage of it."
Falls’ pitcher Cyn Stanfield had her changeup working early on as she escaped a first-and-second jam with a strikeout to end the top of the first.
The second inning, on the other hand, turned out to be inexorable nightmare for the Black Tiger hurler.
Hudson sent 13 batters to the plate and took advantage of two bases-loaded walks and an error.
The Explorers also made contact quite often.
The big blow was a two-run single by right fielder Macy Peck.
Center fielder Laurel Gomersal, Hudson’s leadoff batter who reached base in all five of her plate appearances, had a run-scoring single in the inning, as well.
"It’s always nice to have," Kurtz said. "A lot of times, you may not get a hit out of it, but you force the defense to hurry up a little bit. They think, ‘Hey, this girl is really fast. We have to make this play in a hurry.’
"It creates some havoc at the top of the lineup, which is what you want to do. You want her on base. When the leadoff hitter gets on, we are able to move them up, move them over and hit them in, that’s the game of softball."
Although she was gunned down by Falls’ catcher Janelle Farmer twice on the base paths, Gomersal finished with three hits and a run scored.
"We missed a couple of signs," Kurtz said. "We have some good team speed this year. Given the opportunity, we want to force the issue a little bit when we have the chance to do that.
"We have some capable hitters in the rest of the lineup that can drive runs in."
That certainly was the case Monday.
Catcher Kate Carrillo had three hits, two RBIs and scored a run and Stefanoni helped herself at the plate with three hits, including a double, and a run scored.
First baseman Maddie Roukey added two singles and a run scored for the Explorers. All nine of Hudson’s starters reached base at least once.
As for Stefanoni, she improved to 3-0 in the pitcher’s circle. She struck out 10 batters and walked just one while allowing five hits in seven innings of work.
The Black Tigers scored their lone run in the sixth.
Center fielder Tommie Thompson hit a deep drive to right-center for a single and then scored on a double by right fielder Kylee Phillips.
But Falls’ rally hit a pothole as Phillips was gunned down at third after the relay throw came home.
Stefanoni then retired the next five batters in order to seal the deal.
"They hit the ball well," Applegarth said of the Explorers. "They’re aggressive on the bases. They’re a good all-around team."
Stanfield took the loss in the circle. Katie Carrell replaced Stanfield the third and finished the game. Farmer wound up throwing out all three of Hudson’s baserunners in their attempts to steal second
It was Falls’ worst loss of its young season thus far. And Applegarth urged her players to erase Monday’s setback out of their minds ASAP.
"I told the kids, ‘Learn from it, put this behind and come back ready to play,’" Applegarth said. "We need to put our best foot forward and play the game that we know how to play."
Kurtz also wants his players to not dwell on the past. Yes, the Explorers’ surprising start is something to be cherished.
Nonetheless, the always vaunted National Conference features some formidable opponents that are known for being cruel and merciless to inferior teams.
In the meantime, though, the Hudson players are living the life. And they fully endorse letting the good times continue to roll.
"When you’re having success and you’re putting crooked numbers up there, nobody really has to press because everybody is picking each other up," Kurtz said. "Up and down the lineup, we’re getting people on and scoring runs."
Reporter Frank Aceto can be reached at 330-541-9444, firstname.lastname@example.org or @FrankAceto_RPC.