Friday, May 20, 2016
Softball Cards fall to Nebraska 3-2 in NCAA opener -- FRIDAY CARDINAL COUPLE
KNIGHTEN'S WALK-OFF SINGLE DOWNS CARDS
If yesterday's loss to the Nebraska Cornhuskers in the Columbia NCAA Softball Regional seemed eerily familiar, it had good reason to seem that way. Louisville lost a 4-3 game to Nebraska back in February in the ACC/BIG Ten Challenge on a walk-off hit at the end of the game...back then it was Kiki Stokes who did the damage during Nebraska's final at-bat. .
Yesterday the Cards intentionally walked Stokes in the bottom of the seventh to load the bags with one out...presumably to avoid a similar scenario to the one in February. That brought M.J. Knighten to the plate, though, and she skipped a single past Cards shortstop Sidney Melton to end the contest. In both games, it was Maryssa Becker in the circle taking the loss.
Knighten had been injured in the first inning of the game... sliding into second base to break up Melton's throw to first after a ground ball and played on a twisted ankle the final six innings...making several great plays in the field despite the hobbling.
The decisive bottom of the seventh started for the Huskers with a single and then a throwing error on a sacrifice bunt...putting runners on first and second. After a ground out advanced the runners to second and third, Pearsall called for the intentional walk for Stokes...who was 2 for 3 in the contest prior to that...and Knighten got her second hit of the game to end it.
Louisville fell behind on a two-run homer from Madi Unzicker in the bottom of the second but countered to tie the contest in the top of the third when Hailey Smith delivered a two-out, two-RBI single to score Morgan Meyer and Sidney Melton. Besides those two run outbursts, the contest was primarily a pitcher's duel between Becker and Nebraska's Emily Lockman.
The Cards slip to the consolation part of the Columbia bracket...where they'll face BYU in the double-elimination format. Game time is scheduled for 4:30 p.m. Homestanding Missouri run-ruled the Cougars 9-0 in five innings yesterday to advance to the winner's bracket to face the Cornhuskers at 2 p.m. today.
ESPN 3 will have the internet feed for the Cards vs. Coogs contest.
A tough way to go down after staying competitive the entire way. It goes back to the philosophy that the game is a matter of inches and seconds.
The final single that won it was a ready-made, get-out-of-inning-unscathed double play ball if it's hit just slightly left of where it travelled or if the infielder is standing a few inches closer to second base. The Nebraska two-run homer is a double off the left field fence if it lands three inches lower on the wall. A bang-bang play where Morgan Meyer appeared to beat out an infield single but was called out...the Cards could use a few breaks in the time, space and measurement categories.
We hope the Cards get the inches advantage today against a BYU team that looked totally demoralized yesterday against Missouri. I guess grand slam home runs in the second inning might do that to you.
Hopefully, Louisville can hang a "L" on BYU (that would make it BYUL...or LBYU, I guess) and get a chance to face the loser of the MO v NEB game. Like the BeeGees said so many, many years ago, it's all about stayin' alive.