The afternoon didn't really start well for the Softball Cards when, with two outs, Cleveland State bounced a ball off the scoreboard at Ulmer, bringing home the two runners on base to end the first inning with a 3-0 score. But the Cardinal pitching, with freshman Megan Hensley in the circle, and defense stiffened up in the chilly weather and held the Vikings to four innings of 3-up, 3-down play.
Sandy Pearsall's squad did get the win, 9-5, in the end, but not without a little bit of drama getting there.
The defense didn't exactly get out of the gate right away, and the offense had a bit of a sluggish start as well. Jordan McNary got a lead-off walk in the 1st and then advanced to 2nd on a Nicole Pufahl ground-out. She used her speed to make it home on a Megan Hensley single up the middle, but that was all the Cards would get on the scoreboard until the 4th inning.
In the 4th, Lillie Goetz got on as the lead-off with a single, Brittany Sims caused a fielder's choice and also got on with Goetz advancing to 2nd. Jenna Jordan was hit by a pitch, pushing everyone around and loading up the bases and from there the Cards played some small ball. Sidney Melton created a fielder's choice, which led to Jordan being out going to second, while Sims claimed 3rd, and Goetz scored. Sidney Melton promptly stole 2nd, then Jordan McNary sacrificed to get Melton to 3rd and Sims around to home. The Cards would get no more, but that tied the game up at the end of the 4th inning.
The scoring continued in the 5th for UofL, however, with Maryssa Becker drawing a lead-off walk and then being replaced on the base paths by the quicker Jessica Adell. Megan Hensley reached on an error by the 1st baseman and Adell made it to 2nd safely. Mo Hart, who had a fine day overall, was credited with a single up the middle, and the advance to 2nd on an error. This also got Hensley to 3rd and Adell finished the round trip to the Cards up for good. A passed ball let Hensley sneak home, while Hart got around to 3rd, and things were looking shiny for the Cards indeed with no outs. Alas, nothing else came from it with three straight outs recorded to get the Vikings out of the pinch.
The 6th inning wasn't a 3-up, 3-down for Cleveland State, but it might as well have been. A lone single doesn't get much done.
In the Cards half of the frame, however, things got going again on offense. With 1 out, Jordan McNary drew another walk, then got to second on a Nicole Pufahl single. Maryssa Becker was credited with a single, but got to 3rd on an error which brought McNary and Pufahl home. Megan Hensley went yard, putting another couple on the scoreboard for herself and Becker. After a pitching change by Cleveland State, Mo Hart got a single, but nothing else was to develop.
The Vikings would get two more in the 7th, but it wasn't enough and UofL claimed a big W for the home opener.
Less recap in this one, because, well, it was pretty ugly. The Cards did have some success on the offensive side of things, but pitching failed us a bit in this one.
A few highlights were to be found. The 1st started out with a Jordan McNary single to center field, she wouldn't be on base long, though as Nicole Pufahl came up right after and plopped one beyond the fence in left field.
Kent State got on the board in the 3rd with a 3-run shot to right center...they seemed to be targeting the scoreboard...that put them on top. UofL would get back to square that inning with a Brittany Sims sacrifice that scored Jessica Adell who was in running for Mo Hart, who I did say was having a pretty good day.
The Golden Flashes put a whopping six on the board in the 4th and UofL was chasing taillights the rest of the way despite a 4 run inning to followup. Megan Hensley took the reigns in the pitching circle starting with the 5th inning, but it wouldn't change the Cards' results all that much.
Then we get to the sixth inning...you'll want to skip this paragraph if you have a sensitive stomach...I'll keep it brief. Kent State lead off with a home run, picked up a couple of outs, and then queued up another pair of solo round-trips (one of which would also hit the scoreboard).
UofL would get one back when Mo Hart scored after reaching on another solidly hit single. Maryssa Becker returned to the circle, but the hits just kept on coming for Kent State, and by hits, I actually mean home runs. OK, only one really, but it did hit the scoreboard again.
The Cards would get one more in the bottom of the 7th, but it was too little, too late at that point, with Kent State taking the game 13-9.
Softball has three more games this weekend, with a rematch against Cleveland State at 1pm(ish) tomorrow, and North Dakota State slated for a 3pm start. There is an 11am game, and as always with Softball, when there's an earlier game, start times are...flexible. The Cards will have another shot at Kent State on Sunday at 3pm...again with the "ish". While it was downright chilly for these game, the forecast for the Saturday games looks pretty nice, maybe a bit of a nip in the air, while Sunday looks to be downright fantastic.
Also in action on Saturday, Lacrosse has a noon start to start conference play against Boston College. This one is on ESPN3. And don't forget The Cardinal Couple Radio Hour this morning on WCHQ 100.9 FM and streaming at www.crescenthillradio.com