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Sunday, January 29, 2012

Softball banquet a gala event at Galt House

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SUNDAY CARDINAL COUPLE

-Capacity crowd attends UofL softball banquet

-More on Lady Cards win over Villanova

-Saturday BIG EAST results

If you enjoy good, food, good company and motivational speaking...the fifth annual Louisville Softball banquet was the place to be last night. A crowd of close to 2,000 attended the affair at the Galt House and heard from 2003 NCAA Champion and 2004 and 2008 USA Olympic Softball star Natasha Watley.

They hit you with the appetizers the minute you walked in the door and they were good and plentiful. Sonja and I were greeted at the door by head coach Sandy Pearsall, who we spoke with briefly before mingling with the crowd and checking out the silent auction table. Pearsall revealed that she wasn't all that comfortable with public speaking, but she did a fine job later in the evening when she spoke prior to Watley's keynote address. 

Sonja with Lacy Wood and our friends
at our table
We also talked briefly with UofL softball S.I.D. Lori Korte, resplendent in her attire...who seemed very pleased with the turnout and the way the evening was going. Louisville's lucky to have her...she's pleasant, efficient and caring...great qualities for one who deals with the information and communication parts of the program.

After checking out the numerous items available for silent auction bid, we treated ourselves to beverages and found our table. We also ran into WBB star Becky Burke, in attendance just hours after her strong performance in the Villanova game. One has to appreciate how these college athletes "dress up" for events like this. Burke...and the entire softball team looked like they could have filled in as runway models last night. 

We got another nice surprise when we found out we were sitting at the same table as CARDINAL COUPLE reader Dan and enjoyed the lively conversation we had with him and his friends. We were also joined by UofL volunteer assistant coach Lacy Wood, who eagerly discussed the team, the BIG EAST and the upcoming Lady Cards softball trip to FIU for the Combat Classic in Miami. 

Sean Moth was the emcee for the event and was his usual professional, funny and smooth self. Moth has a self-depreciating sense of humor at times and it struck a positive note with the crowd last night. 

The invocation was delivered by senior speedster Tesha Payton and dinner was served shortly after. The Galt House didn't disappoint..with a great salad, chicken with pasta and vegetables entree and decadent chocolate dessert to top things off. 

After a highlights film, Pearsall presented the Spirit of Softball award to the Louisville Slugger group and a video introducing the 2012 team was shown. Might have been the highlight of the evening...as the girls revealed something about themselves that people may have not known and why they chose Louisville. Chuckles and applause accompanied each cameo and the softball players have some hilarious and revealing antedotes about their free time and reasons why they don the Red and Black. 

Cardinal pitcher Tori Collins gave a synopsis of the recent pre-season Oklahoma City Challenge and a video followed showing the girls participating in the challenge events. Let's hope none of them decide to go out for the swim team...

After the video, Pearsall took the podium again and made it short and sweet, acknowledging the support staff and coaches that make up Cardinal softball. One really doesn't realize how much goes into the entire scheme of a sport at Louisville...the academic advisers, marketing, groundskeepers, assistant and so much more.

Natasha Watley gave an inspired and entertaining address about her love of softball, career in it and how she got interested in it. At times, her description of her passion for the game and the aspects of it, had the crowd on the edge of their seats. She still competes professionally in Japan...when she retires, she'll make a great softball coach on the collegiate level and hopefully will pursue that. 

Her comments about her college days at UCLA were heartfelt and entertaining. WE won't go into what "WIFT" means...the rallying cry of  her and the other seniors on the 2003 National Championship team...but her desire and quest for getting the best out of her self was a great lesson and teaching tool for those in attendance.

The evening seemed to fly by. Before we knew it, Sean Moth was wishing us a great rest of the evening and the team had assembled on the stage for a group photo. It was our first softball banquet ever and it certainly won't be our last. 

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More on the 62-58 Lady Cards win over Villanova....

Head Villanova coach Harry
Perretta goes casual in the
second half...
This game mirrored the South Florida game in a lot of ways. The Cards coming from behind to win. Having to cope with one excellent player and some hot shooting guards from the perimeter. Depending on late free throws to seal the victory. Despite the less than stellar nature of the action at times...call it a gritty, workmanlike job accomplished by the Lady Cards yesterday afternoon. 

Numbers....

All 11 that dressed out for Louisville played in the contest. Becky Burke and Shoni Schimmel logged 38 minutes to lead the team. Bria Smith saw 31. Shawnta Dyer accounted for 22, Asia Taylor with 20 hard fought minutes and Nita Slaughter with 19. Sherrone Vails contributed 17, Shelby Harper 7 and Sara Hammond 4. Both Jude Schimmel and Cierra Warren saw the court for 2 minutes.

Louisville outrebounded the Wildcats 42 to 38...Smith's 10 and Taylor's 9 leading the way. The Lady Cards committed just nine turnovers..same as 'Nova...Shoni and Bria with three each. UofL had 6 steals (Smith 3) and three blocks.

Points in the paint went to Louisville 24-28 and points off turnovers to the Cards also...8-4. Louisville led in 2nd chance points 13-8. Neither team scored on fast break opportunities. The VU bench outscored Louisville's 14-9 (Dyer's six leading the Cards.)

The score was tied 8 times in the contest, 10 lead changes also. Louisville's largest lead was six points..with 36 seconds left in the game and the Wildcats enjoyed a seven point advantage once...with 14:36 to go in the first half.

So, Louisville takes a 17-4, 6-2 record into the second half of the BIG EAST schedule. Nova goes in 13-8, 3-5. The Wildcats have a relatively easy ride from here out, having already played UConn and Notre Dame. They should handle Seton Hall and Providence. On the road at DePaul and USF will be tough..but winnable. Things toughen up a bit when Georgetown and Rutgers visit in mid Feb. They finish at St. John's and hosting Syracuse. Wouldn't surprise us to see them at 8-8 or better when BIG EAST Tournament time rolls around.

For Louisville, the intensity increases. Road trip to DePaul Tuesday and West Virginia Saturday. UConn and Syracuse visit the YUM! Center after that. We're hoping the Lady Cards can come of out this killer four game stretch 2-2. Pitt, Notre Dame, DePaul again the final at Seton Hall. A 3-1 finish is very possible. We'll take 11-5 heading into conference tournament time. 10-6 is fine also. None of them will be easy, though. It's the BIG EAST.

We were also fortunate to observe yesterday's game with "the Observer" (Charlie Springer). If you haven't become a regular reader at Card Game http://www.uoflcardgame.com/ ...you need to. Charlie's observations on all UofL Sports are simply the best. WE learned from the best....CARDINAL COUPLE wouldn't be what it is today without Charlie's gentle urging and encouragement to leave the CARD GAME nest and fly on our own. And, he's got a cool camera...

FROM SONJA:

A-Tayy, I was so proud of you yesterday and it was great to see you on the post-game podium. Remember that the quality of the minutes are the main thing. Your hard work and dedication will serve you well...not only at UofL but for the rest of your life.

Now...go to the Windy City and give Anna Martin and Katherine Harry a lesson on how Columbus girls represent. Love ya #31.
.

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FROM BIG EAST ACTION SATURDAY

--Notre Dame got 24 points from Diggins in a 71-56 win over St John's in New York. The Irish led 43-23 at the half. Smith and Stevens had 10 each for the Red Storm.

--UConn downed a stubborn USF Bulls squad 77-62 in the XL Center. Tiffany Hayes with 33 and 10 for Geno. Stef Dolson added
22 and 18. For USF, the Russian Rocket Inga Orekhova totaled 16.

--DePaul put four in double figures to defeat Seton Hall 71-59. Martin with 20, Penny 19 and Harry and Hrynko 13 each. The Blue Demons host Louisville on Tuesday. 

--Providence downed Pittsburgh 66-50...getting 15 from Barnes and 13 from Wells. The winless Panthers were led by Kiesel's 17. 

--Cincinnati pulled the mild upset over homestanding Syracuse 55-54 on Bjonee Reaves jumper with five second left. Kayla Cook led the Bearcats with 14. Hemingway had 12 and Alexander 11 for SU.

--West Virginia romped Marquette 53-32, holding the Golden Eagles to 0-10 3-point shooting. Caldwell netted 20 for the 'Eers...Plouffe led Marquette with nine. 27-18 at the half for WVU.

#11/12 Rutgers and #18/20 Georgetown square off in Sunday action.
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2 comments:

  1. No doubt that Taylor was the difference in this "ugly win" (quoting Kstarksr - for once we agree on something). Taylor played the way she did against Gonzaga in the touranment last year - huge. She hit the boards and gave weak side help defense, which was otherwise NON-EXISTENT by the Cards in this game. (Terrible help defense is why (1) Warren saw only 2 minutes; (2) why Walz was chewing out Shoni in the time out right after she hit that big 3; and (3) why Sara looked bad on those two baseline drives by Sweeney, even though they absolutely were not her fault - Sara was giving her baseline, assuming the weak side help would come). But I digress; back to Taylor. On offense, Taylor made good entry passes (also notably lacking from others throughout the game) and was able to drive and dish. Don't get me started about ... never mind; I won't say it.
    --PDX Phil

    ReplyDelete
  2. Louisville did what they had to late at the foul line. Sweeney is a great player who knows how to play in the paint and it's kind of a shame she's stuck another year after this one at middle-of-the pack Villanova. Who wouldn't want her? Louisville not guarding her well helped also.

    Jerry

    ReplyDelete

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