HUDSON — For the first time this spring, the Hudson softball team faced a bout with adversity.
The Explorers suffered their first loss Monday after starting the season on an 11-game winning streak.
So perhaps the wheels are falling off for surprising Hudson, which is coming off two consecutive losing seasons, right?
The host Explorers (12-1. 6-1 Suburban League National Conference) rebounded from their first defeat with a 16-0 victory over Twinsburg (4-13, 1-6) on Wednesday. The game was called after 4½ innings due to the 10-run mercy rule.
The Explorers’ lone loss took place two days earlier on their home field when Hudson lost 2-1 to Brecksville.
Explorers coach Jeff Kurtz didn’t think his team could finish undefeated. At the same time, though, the defeat was a lesson in why it’s paramount to not take anyone lightly.
“When you have a good run, you lose because the other team was better than you or you just came out flat and played horrible,” Kurtz said. “I think a lot of times, it serves as a wake-up call.
“We would much rather lose in that situation than down the road in a much more crucial game or a tournament game. We’re not going to go through the league season undefeated. We need to bring our best game every day.”
Hudson certainly brought its best game Wednesday. As a result, the inexperienced Tigers didn’t have a chance.
The Explorers scored at least three runs per inning and used a weapon that had been lacking throughout the spring.
That would be the long ball.
Hudson smashed three pitches over the fence after hitting just two home runs the previous 12 games. All three of those blasts went to left-center field.
No one was more locked in than Cami Madar.
The lone senior on a young team, Madar crushed two homers, including a grand slam in the second. Madar, who had been struggling at the plate of late, reached base in all four of her plate appearances and finished with a career-high eight RBI.
“I finally got my timing down a lot better,” she said. “I was able to slow down my mechanics and really focus on what I needed to do and have some fun. If you get all stressed out, you can’t play very well.”
Madar also made a diving catch on a short popup to her left and scored three times.
Junior pitcher Olivia Stefanoni pitched a one-hitter and smacked her first home run.
“She made good pitches,” Kurtz said of Stefanoni. “She’s not necessarily a power pitcher that [sophomore] Maddie [Roukey] has been. She doesn’t come up there needing to strike everybody out.
“She changes speeds, move things around. She got people to pound the ball into the ground.”
All nine batters in the Explorers’ starting lineup reached base. Catcher Katie Carrillo, who was one of five freshmen in the lineup, reached base in all four of her plate appearances and finished with three hits and two runs scored.
Twinsburg junior starter Kaley Klominek took the loss in the circle. She was replaced by senior Hana Hayes in the second inning. Hayes’ bunt single in the third was the Tigers’ lone hit.
“We’re fighting,” Tigers coach Chris Shaffer said. “The best thing I can say is, when we have a tough game, we keep battling. The fight is there. We just have to be more consistent early in the game."