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Saturday, January 26, 2013

Saturday Cardinal Couple -- Softball ready for 2013



SATURDAY CARDINAL COUPLE

-Experience and power on hand for Softball

-Softball Dinner Saturday night @ Hyatt

Even though the weather in Louisville is below freezing, # 18 Louisville Softball is busy preparing for the opening weekend Feb 8th. in Las Vegas. The team uses the indoor Trager Center for the basics of batting and fielding and we're not sure how many holes have been put in the roof by Taner Fowler, Alicja Wolny, Maggie Ruckenbrod, Jordan Trimble and the rest of the Cards wrecking crew...but Sandy Pearsall has bats galore ready to take the Ulmer Stadium field this spring.

If there's any questions at all about the team that swept the BIG EAST last year and won 55 games, it's who will fill in for departed pitchers Tori Collins, graduated and married and Chelsea Leonard who has given up the game because of perpetually bad knees.

Caralisa Connell returns, and went 19-1 last season. Rachel LeCoq, a transfer from Colgate, is there as needed. Both freshman Jasmine Smithson-Willett and returning outfielder Jordan Trimble are able to step in the circle if needed...Coach "P" is very high on the freshman Smithson-Willett and has indicated she'll contend for a spot in the starting line-up if not throwing strikes and balls.

For Connell, a junior...it's a role she's carried before. In 2011, injuries to Leonard and Collins left Pearsall with just one pitcher...the freshman from Murfreesboro, TN. Pearsall combed the campus and came up with Katie Petrino, on campus to play golf for UofL and daughter of former football coach Bobby Petrino to bring to the roster as a backup hurler.

Connell pitched every game, every inning for a three week peroid and won 12 straight while going 20-7 on the season. There is no truth to the rumor that current golf coach Courtney Trimble has petitioned Pearsall to have Connell grab a five-iron and hit the links this spring.

Besides Smithson-Willett, two other freshmen are on the roster this year for UofL. Ally Vaughn was the 8th Region Player of the Year in Kentucky and the first baseman from Henry County High School is known to have great power at the plate. Brittany Sims was the #7 ranked player in the state. The utility player hails from Lexington (KY) Lafayette and was also a top discus performer in track and field.  

It'll be a tough lineup to crack. Fowler, Katelyn Mann, Keller, Whitney Arion, Ruckenbrod, Jennifer Esteban, Trimble, Wolny and Hannah Kiyohara all started regularly or played extensively for the Cards last year. 12 letter-winners return.

The crowds at Ulmer should be thrilled this season with a veteran and powerful lineup. If the pitching can hold, we think preseason #12 South Florida and maybe Notre Dame will be the only teams good enough to push the Cards out of the running for back-to-back titles.

Vegas...opening on Feb. 8th. Would be a great get-away weekend, if you want to combine roulette and round-trippers. I wouldn't bet against the Cards sweeping the Invitational in Sin City.

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The Softball Bullpen Dinner is tonight at the downtown Hyatt. Cocktail hour begins at 5:30 and dinner at 7:30 p.m. Washington All-American Danielle Lawrie is the featured speaker.

CARDINAL COUPLE had a wonderful time there last year and we're pleased and happy to be returning again this year. We'll have full coverage of the event in the Sunday edition of CARDINAL COUPLE and a preview of WBB vs. St. John's.

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