Monday, February 4, 2013
Monday Cardinal Couple - The Sandy Pearsall Interview
MONDAY CARDINAL COUPLE
-Interview with Softball's Sandy Pearsall
(CARDINAL COUPLE'S exclusive interview with head UofL softball coach Sandy Pearsall. We hope you like it!)
CARDINAL COUPLE: Looking at this veteran team you have returning...do you have one team leader?
Coach Pearsall: We actually have multiple leaders on this team. We do develop a group of players to lead this team and we start them off in their sophomore year...so we've built this leadership group over a period of time. We have Jordy Trimble involved in that, Chrisanna Roberts..our senior leaders. Also some one who has come on the field and has been involved with leadership is senior Alicia Wolny. We'll miss leadership that we had from Kristin Austin, Chelsea Leonard, Tesha Paysen. Those three were instrumental is leadership, but I think these three are definitely headed in that direction.
CARDINAL COUPLE: Any chance at all of Leonard coming back to pitch at all?
Coach Pearsall: No. The knee won't allow it. She'll graduate this year. She'd have eligibility left, if she wanted to go somewhere else and play...she could...but to get this to work out we had to career end her here. Basically, we couldn't have gone on this year without a replacement pitcher. We wish she could have had four years playing for us.
CARDINAL COUPLE: So, that leaves Caralisa Connell as your main pitcher. Some Cardinal fans are wondering...if there is a weakness on this team this year, it is pitching?
Coach Pearsall: It is our unknown, that is for sure. This is the year we'll expect Caralisa to step up, just like Tori Collins stepped up a few years ago when we weren't getting what we expected out of Kristen Wadwell. Seeing what "Carl", our nickname for Caralisa, did at the end of last year for us...she's done the work for us. I think she's going to have a great year for us. She's our strength on the pitching staff.
We did add Rachel Le Coq, who transferred from Colgate. She's embraced her role here and we've seen a lot of good things from her. Can she carry us? No, not now. Maybe a year from now...but she will give us a lot of innings of support...hopefully
CARDINAL COUPLE: Any truth to the rumor that you've reached a deal to bring Katie Petrino back to pitch...and promised to lend Connell to Coach Trimble on the golf team?
Coach Pearsall: (laughing) I don't know! I'll have to ask Carl how her golf game is! (Laughing). We'd take Katie back any day she wanted to come back because she is just the greatest competitor. I'm not sure that Carl's golf game is going to be strong enough to help the golf team but I'll check with Carl on that...(laughing).
CARDINAL COUPLE: Remember you drive for show and putt for dough. You've been ranked third in the BIG EAST. How do feel about that? I mean, you only lose five games all year and you win the BIG EAST and third?
Coach Pearsall: Actually, it's probably because of the way the voters are looking at our returning pitching. South Florida had a great NCAA Tournament run, they return a powerhouse team and a great pitcher, so I can see where they deserve the top spot. Same for Notre Dame, they get back a lot of power, speed and good pitching also...so were comfortable with third. And, it's just pre-season stuff. The important thing is where you are at the end of the season .
DePaul returns a great team. Syracuse loses Jenna Caira, a great pitcher, but has a good pitcher to replace her that is a senior. You also have to watch out for Rutgers and Pitt, they're very capable teams. It's not a simple conference, it not an easy conference...and it's a case of where we still don't play everybody. We don't play South Florida in the regular season. Good and bad maybe? I'd rather play them in the regular season just to know what we might be facing come tournament time. We don't play DePaul in conference play, but we will go up against them in Vegas. Verdun, their big hitter and pitcher is back for them.
CARDINAL COUPLE: Talk a little about the season opener. You're headed to Las Vegas for three games.
Coach Pearsall: It's a great opportunity for us to see what we've got early on....obviously. Some great teams out there and we're looking forward to the tests. Just to get the season started.
CARDINAL COUPLE: Looking at the non-conference schedule, it looks to be the strongest I've ever seen for UofL softball...
Coach Pearsall: It's definitely going to be a big challenge for us. We schedule over a year out, so you're anticipating what you might have. If I'd known I was going to lose Leonard, I might have had some different thoughts in my scheduling but with that said...we do have a veteran team back and we need to be challenged. Carl needs to be challenged and we need to show we can step up to that next level, that next spot in our toughness. You have schools on there...LSU, Texas, Oklahoma, Michigan, North Carolina...these are always extremely good programs. Oklahoma being the cream of the crop. They come back very intact and have actually added even more power. It's a great challenge for us. You're not going to get better playing the teams you can easily beat. If you can go out there and beat teams like this, that's a real accomplishment.
CARDINAL COUPLE: Basketball coaches talk about their players either having or lacking a "basketball IQ". Does that apply to softball as well?
COACH PEARSALL: Definitely. Like all coaches, we have kids who have played the game but not learned the game. They're directed, like in youth ball and club or high school, so they're told what to do but they are not learning the game. We work with them on situational things, like what to expect when they are batting and there is a certain count...like 2-1 or 0-2. They have to be able to learn the game to be able to play it at the highest level. Basketball coaches talk about wanting their kids to be "gym rats" and that apply to our players as well. They have to want to go do things on their own like going to the batting cages and working on hitting because the amount of time we are allowed to work with them is very limited.
CARDINAL COUPLE: Who is the hardest worker on your team?
Coach Pearsall: Wow. That's a tough one. There are kids who have really matured from their freshman year, like Hannah Kiyohara. Alicja Wolny. Taner Fowler and Maggie Ruckenbrod. Katie Keller. They go and they do a lot extra on their own. Our pitchers do a lot of work on their own. I have some kids that don't put in as much work on their own like I would like to see, but I'd say 80% of them do the extra work.
CARDINAL COUPLE: There has been talk about some additions and improvements over at Ulmer Stadium. Please go over those.
Coach Pearsall: Expansion is scheduled to take place at the end of this season. Some dugout improvements, like getting some bathrooms in there. In the stadium, there will be about another 100 seats added and a terrace on the top, so fans can walk from one side to the other. An expanded press box, too. And a covering over part of our stands, too that will provide some protection during bad weather or sunny days when people want to get out of the sun. We're also going to be building a new locker room and club house. This is really needed, this is greatly needed. The current one is a tight fit. We actually don't have enough lockers for our players. It'll be where the concession area and restrooms are now, right across from Ulmer.
CARDINAL COUPLE: Any final words for our readers?
Coach Pearsall: Just to thank them for their support and continued support. I hope we can continue to have that great fan support by putting a great product and program out there for them to cheer for and support.