Roukey continues impressive streak in the circle as Hudson softball claims sectional title

Ashley Bastock
Akron Beacon Journal
Hudson's Madison Roukey delivers a pitch against Wadsworth in the first inning in their softball game at Wadsworth High School on Monday April 19, 2021 earlier this season. Following a sectional final win over Willoughby South on Wednesday, May 12, 2021, Roukey has now gone seven straight outings without relinquishing an earned run. [Mike Cardew/Akron Beacon Journal]

WILLOUGHBY — Hudson starting pitcher Maddie Roukey continued on an impressive tear Wednesday evening as the No. 14-seeded Explorers notched a 7-2 win over No. 13 Willoughby South, claiming a Division I sectional title.

Both of the runs Willoughby South scored in the third inning were unearned, meaning the Hudson senior has now gone her last seven outings without giving up an earned run. Hudson has also won its last seven games.

"I think I've been pitching pretty well," Roukey said. "So I just tried to stay within myself and not trying to overdo anything."

Six of the last seven outings for Roukey have been starts; she also pitched two scoreless innings of relief against Avon Lake in a 5-3 win on May 1. 

On Wednesday in a complete-game effort, she gave up six hits and one walk while striking out seven. But this was her first start in the last six that wasn't a complete-game shutout. She previously helped Hudson to wins over North Royalton (10-0), Twinsburg (12-0), Cuyahoga Falls (12-0)Strongsville (8-0) and Twinsburg again (10-0). 

Against Strongsville in the Battle on the Lake Tournament, she threw a no-hitter and struck out 12. 

"Honestly, I don't think she even thinks about it," coach Jeff Kurtz said. "She just goes out and pitches. We joked, I texted her after Strongsville after we got home, she threw a no-hitter and I didn't even know it. I didn't even notice. I was a pitcher and usually I'm zoned in on that stuff. Didn't even know it, we just knew we had another game coming.

"She can compartmentalize and laser focus. She does the same thing with school. She's got like a 4.7 GPA, she can just laser it down. She's such a good kid, she's worked so hard to get to this point. I just think when she steps across that line, she's just all business. She loves playing softball, she loves competing, and that's going to serve her well at the next level. I'm so proud of her."

Offensively against the Rebels, Hudson (15-6) scored seven runs on just six hits. 

Four of the Explorers' runs came on walks as Willoughby South (13-7) starter Emily Kelly struggled to keep the ball in the zone. She walked 10 batters and struck out 10 in 3 2/3 innings pitched. Every Hudson batter got on base in the game.

Coming into Wednesday, Hudson knew that Kelly relies heavily on her rise ball. It paid off in certain moments, like when Laurel Gomersal hit a two-run homer (her fourth home run of the year) over the center field wall to give Hudson a 3-0 lead in the second inning.

"I had a 2-2 count so I knew she was going to throw something close," Gomersal said. "I know I like high pitches, which I know sometimes is a bad thing.  But I knew she was a rise ball pitcher so if you hit it, the spin is already going up. I was just looking for something that I could make contact with. I already had two strikes so needed to battle."

Hudson opened the game up in the fourth inning when they scored four runs, three thanks to bases-loaded walks. 

But there was still plenty of room for the Explorers to do more damage, considering they stranded 10 runners on base in the game. Two innings ended with the bases loaded.

"Some of the pitches were really out of the strike zone and we just continually reminded them to stay off the high stuff," Kurtz said. "But it's just a matter of understanding the strike zone and when you get down in the count just being able to foul stuff off that you don't like and get the pitch you want to hit. Frankly, at this point in the season we need to continue to get better at that. When we face better pitchers who aren't going to be that far out of the zone, when they do make a mistake we need to be able to capitalize."

Hudson will try and squeeze in a handful of its remaining regular season league games in the coming days before they take on No. 4-seeded Perry at Washington High School at 2 p.m. Monday in a district semifinal matchup.