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Thursday, February 10, 2011

Softball starts today









THURSDAY @ CARDINAL COUPLE:


-Texas Invitational for Softball Cards



-Breaking down the 2011 squad

-High School hoops realignment

-Poll results


While we scrape car windows and shiver during the morning walk to retrieve the newspaper here in Derbytown, the University of Louisville softball team prepares to begin their 2011 softball season in Austin, TX. in the Texas Invitational today. Texas, N.Illinois and Tulsa join the Cards in the four day event. Chelsea Bemis (pictured here) leads a talented group of Cardinals in the opening game against Texas at 7:30 this evening. Louisville will play five games in the invitational. After facing Texas on Thursday, Louisville plays N.Illinois on Friday night. The Cards will face Tulsa Saturday afternoon...then play in the semifinals Saturday night. The consolation and championship game take place Sunday...beginning at 11 a.m.


Louisville is 1-0 all time against the Longhorns...defeating them last year out in Fullerton, CA. Texas is ranked #15 in the preseason coaching polls. They'll most likely put sophomore pitcher Blaire Luna on the mound. Luna was Big 12 Freshman and Player of the Year...going 30-10 and posting a 1.39 ERA. N.Illinois has lost both lifetime appearances to Louisville...last falling to the Cards at Ulmer Stadium last season. NIU went 25-34 last season. Louisville and Tulsa have never met. The Golden Hurricane went 32-21 last year and finished second in Conference USA.
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(Note) We received an e-mail from assistant S.I.D. Lori Korte that the weather was far from ideal in Austin. The team took batting practice this morning 26 degree weather. That's gotta sting with an aluminum bat...
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The Cards return seven starters from last year...losing All-American Melissa Roth at catcher and Kristen Wadwell on the mound. Here's a breakdown by position of Sandy Pearsall's team and our guesses at potential starters:

Pitcher.

Three Cardinals will vie for time on the mound. Returning junior Tori Collins was selected for All-BIG EAST honors last season and went 18-6. Sophomore Chelsea Leonard returns after an injury shortened season. She was 4-2. Freshman Caralisa Connell had an impressive fall pre-season for Louisville and is from Murfeesboro, TN. Pearsall likes the depth of her hurlers this season and predicts big things down the road for Connell. We figure Collins will get the start against Texas...


Catcher

With Roth gone, several players will compete for the spot. Freshman Maggie Ruckenbrod is a power hitter and performed well in the fall. Sophomore Sarah Anderson backed up Roth last year and is a contender. Freshman Taner Fowler played the position in high school and also hits for power. Chelsea Bemis has played the spot and third base if could go there from third base if needed. Catcher could be a spot that sees several player rotating time...we like Ruckenbrod a lot and see her getting the nod.


First base

Alicja Wolny returns after her All-BIG EAST selection as a freshman. She led Louisville in doubles last year and is a above average fielder. Several will compete for back up time.
Wolny is solid here and will anchor a great infield.

Second base

Katelyn Mann saw extensive time at the position last year and the sophomore is the front runner to start. The coaches were impressed with the fall play of freshman Katie Keller. Freshman Hannah Kiyohara is another option if the Cards decide to rotate at the position. Last year's starter at second...Jordan Trimble...moves to the outfield. We expect Mann to get the nod..but Keller could see considerable time.


Shortstop

Colby Wherry returns for her senior year. She's been the starting short shop for three years and has two All-BIG EAST selections under her belt. Either Kiyohara or Keller could back up.
Wherry is experienced, an excellent fielder and is part of a strong Cardinal left side.

Third base

Chelsea Bemis, BIG EAST Player of the Year, looks to have another big season. The senior led Louisville with 13 home runs last season and batted ,299. She's locked in the spot and several will compete for back up time...if Pearsall needs to move her to catcher. The sky is the limit for the personable slugger.

Left field

Toss up between senior Christina Roesel..an infielder last year and Jennifer Esteban. The sophomore drew some starts there last season. Katelyn Mann had high school experience there and can be used in the outfield if needed. We see Roesel drawing the opening day assignment.

Center Field

The Cards move Jordan Trimble from second base. Tesha Payton has seen back up time there the last two years and is a good glove. Trimble will anchor a Cardinal outfield that has seen considerable changes from last season.

Right Field

Kristin Austin is a two time All-BIG EAST selection. The junior led Louisville in triples last year and scored 30 runs. She'll be backed up by Chelsea Jordan and Chrisanna Roberts. Austin has a big time 'gun' and base runners better be aware if they try to test it.
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Louisville looks loaded for the 2011 season and will challenge DePaul and Notre Dame for the regular season title. Pearsall's players have experience, depth and one of the best freshmen classes in school history. The schedule is equally formidable. The Cards play four teams that finished last year in the top 25 and nine NCAA Tournament participants from last year. We'll give you daily coverage of the season opening tournament...and all Cardinal softball action this season. Just don't ask us to pinch run....

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The KHSAA has realigned the 6th. and 7th. Regions for hoops...beginning in the 2011-12 season. They've gone with a north/south alignment...replacing the current east/west set up. It'll make for some interesting district matchups. Manual moves from the 7th to 6th and draws a bunny district with Central, Portland Christian, Shawnee, Presentation and St. Francis. Mercy goes to District 28 with Fern Creek, Whitfield Academy, J'Town, and Bullitt East. North Bullitt and Bullitt Central are moving to District 27 with Moore, Evangel, and Southern. This breakup of the three Bullitt County schools makes no sense...a much more plausible re-alignment would have had these three matched up with Fairdale and Southern. An alignment that makes sense in the Sixth region is putting Shawnee, Central, Brown, Portland Christian, St.Francis and Presentation together. District 25...with Beth Haven, Fairdale, Holy Cross, PRP and Valley looks the weakest of the new alignment...we wouln't want to have a team in District 28 with powers Mercy, Fern Creek, J'Town and Bullitt East....


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The results are final for the latest poll we've been running and you have spoken on which five Lady Cards you would choose for the starting five. The results are below:

92% Monique Reid
92% Shoni Schimmel
75% Tia Gibbs
64% Keisha Hines
53% Asia Taylor
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Becky Burke finished sixth with 32%. All 12 currently playing Cardinals got at least one vote. We did not include the injured or sitting out players (Burton, Dyer, Johnson and Warren). Also, Candyce Bingham did not get any votes either. Just as well, she's already returned to Europe to play hoops.
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Two days to get your e-mails to us for free Panera. Your gift card is waiting...all you need to do is tell us which Panera you like to go to and why. We're doing it differently this week...we're taking all the entries and putting them in a hat. The first one that Bill the Goat attempts to eat is the winner. Seriously, we're going to pick one randomly...so, if you aren't that great of a writer or like the luck of the draw...get your entry in to us at cardinalcouple@insightbb.com along with the rest. A hot bowl of soup, panini sandwich and steaming coffee sounds pretty good right now...
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