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Saturday, February 10, 2018

Spring Sports off to Strong Start -- SATURDAY CARDINAL COUPLE

Softball Bags Two Wins

Game 1: UofL 5 - Butler 2

As Jared mentioned in his write up yesterday, two more spring sports followed in the shoes of tennis and got their schedules started during the winter. While the UofL baseball team will wrap up a final weekend of scrimmages this week and get underway next week, the softball team got their season started with a bang yesterday, defeating both Butler and UCF in Orlando.

While the team came out with two wins, it didn't always look to be so. The first game started about as terribly as it could. Butler had runners reach second and third base with no outs in the top of the first. Both of those runners would eventually come around to score before a couple of infield popups ended the top half. Louisville followed with a 4-up-3-down bottom half in which they struck out twice and walked once. The Cards trailed 2-0 at then end of the first.

Despite an unfortunate start, Louisville quickly turned the game around. From the 2nd through the 5th inning, Butler had one runner reach base, and that was on a hit by pitch. Megan Hensley struck out five over that stretch. In the bottom of the second, Jamie Soles started the Cards off with a walk and they were in business. Soles and Alison Szydlowski (Mike) both came around to score unearned runs, tying the game. By the time Butler got their next runner on base in the sixth inning (a walk), Louisville led 4-2. The Butler runner posed no real threat, as she was out at second on a fielder's choice, and the player who replaced her at first was left there by the end of the inning.

In the bottom of the sixth, Nicole Pufahl took matters into her own hands against the new Butler pitcher. Poof led off the inning with a walk, then used three (straight?) wild pitches to waltz around the bases for the fifth Louisville run. Blaire Bass reached on a hit in the same inning, and Catie Barber advanced on two more wild pitches as the pinch runner, but the Cards were unable to score another run.

In the seventh, Butler threatened with a walk, single, and error, but ultimately were unable to score again before the game ended on a line-out to center field. Megan Hensley finished the game with only two runs allowed (both unearned), five hits, two walks, two HBP, and seven strikeouts. She went the distance. Averaging 9 K/9 (do they call it a K/7 in softball?) is nothing to scoff at, and Hensley showed that she may just be rebounded from those injury issues that kept her down last season.

Louisville's scorers were Sidney Melton, Caitlin Ferguson, Soles, Poof, and Mike. While three of those runs were unearned, the Cards put together a team on-base percentage of 0.375 in the game which is always going to be beneficial for the offense. 

Game 2: UofL 5 - UCF 3

Only 27 minutes after finishing the game against Butler, Louisville's next game of the day started against the Knights of UCF. As the away team this game, it was the Cards' turn to bat first, and they used that opportunity effectively. Caitlin Ferguson opened the game with a single, advanced on an error on a Sidney Melton bunt, and later came around to score on a Mike single. A Blaire Bass single through the right side allowed Melton to score and Mike followed her in as the ball flew around the infield. Bass was out caught between second and first in the confusion. Danielle Watson worked a quick bottom half with a strikeout and a single and the Cards led 3-0 after one. 

The next nine combined batters to the plate saw themselves head back to the dugout before UCF saw some life in the bottom of the third. An HBP and a single had the Knights in business with one out, before Watson promptly shut down the rally with a pair of strikeouts. Louisville went down in order for the third inning in a row, and UCF saw another opportunity in the fourth. Watson went BB, BB, K, BB to load the bases before a pair of ground balls and a play at the plate kept the Knights off the board once more. 

In the fifth, Louisville finally saw a batter reach base again as Kyra Snyder got a single down. Jordyn Wolfe came in to pinch run after Snyder was bunted to second. Wolfe reached third on a passed ball, but after a ground out, she committed a major error by making the last out at third base. Stretching her lead too much on a pitch, the UCF catcher caught Wolfe off guard and she was picked off at third with a throw behind. The bottom half saw Louisville's defensive luck falter a bit as a double, sac fly, and single brought in UCF's first run. The Cards were able to limit the damage, though, and led 3-1 after five.

After a Melton walk to begin the sixth, Louisville saw their first home run of the season as Jenna Jordan swatted one over the fence in left center. Louisville led 5-1 and would score no more runs in the final two innings. Despite a leadoff single, a double, and a passed ball in the seventh, Louisville would score no runs due to a caught stealing between the single and double, and a pair of outs surrounding the passed ball. The bottom half saw a UCF team that refused to go down without a fight. Despite starting the inning with a groundout, UCF loaded the bases with two outs following a pair of walks and an error. Another error brought two runners in to score before a batter brought in to pinch hit struck out to end the game (ouch). Louisville won 5-3

Danielle Watson got the win for the Cards in this one, despite not going the distance. She allowed four hits, one earned run, three walks, and an HBP to go along with five strikeouts in five innings pitched. Kyra Snyder came in to finish the game out and allowed two runs (one earned) on no hits and four walks. She had three strikeouts in her two innings pitched. So far, every Louisville pitcher is averaging at least 7K/7, but have had some trouble with control. The Card have put 12 runners on base between 9 walks and 3 hit batters. Strikeouts are great, but free baserunners are not. Finding the strike zone will be a point of emphasis in bull pen sessions going forward, I would imagine.

There was only one new scorer for the Cards in the second game, as Jenna Jordan touched home for the first time (as a runner) following the home run. Ferguson and Mike both scored their second runs of the season, and Melton scored her second and third. These first two games have been good for the Louisville offense, something which struggled at times last season. Games against tougher opponents may see them struggle if they go down in order in three straight innings, but the diamond sports are finicky, and sometimes a couple of big innings are enough.

For both sides of the ball going forward, I would say consistency is key. Softball will have two more games today with a game against North Florida at 11AM and one against North Carolina scheduled at 4PM. 

Teeter Debuts at Louisville with Win

In his first game as head coach of the University of Louisville lacrosse team, Scott Teeter was able to coach the Cards to victory against long-time regional rival, Cincinnati. On the road against the Bearcats, Louisville scored early and often in the first half. Tessa Chad opened the scoring in just over a minute to put the Cards up, but Cincy's Kate Carney scored a mere 24 seconds later to tie the game again. Louisville was not dismayed, though, scoring three straight goals in the next five minutes, and ultimately leading 11-4 at the end of the first half.

In the second, goals were harder to come by for the Cards, as they ended up losing the second thirty minutes 4-5. However, despite scoring in the first minute of the second half, Cincinnati could not keep up consistent pressure, and they did not have enough offensive firepower to overcome the first half deficit. Louisville won the game 15-9. 

Lacrosse has always been an interestingly high scoring game to me, just as ice or field hockey can be. I've spent the majority of my life playing and enjoying outdoor soccer, which, despite the large goal, does not see scoring very often, as you all likely know. Indoor soccer, due to the smaller field, does see quite a bit more scoring. Lacrosse has a tiny goal, like ice hockey, so defending it seems as though it should be simpler. However, the tiny scoring object seems nearly impossible to stop, as saves always seem to be a stat thrown to the wayside. I only say this because Louisville lacrosse has always been a volume scoring team, at least as long as I've paid attention, and they will need to continue to do so to be successful. Their opening game with a new head coach seems to imply this will stay the norm.

Louisville turned 27 shots into 23 on goal and 15 goals. That's pretty good. They only converted on 3 of 9 free position shots, a number that doesn't look great, but remember that I come from a sport where nearly every penalty is expected to be converted. In fairness, Cincinnati only converted 1-7, so we can at least say that the Cards won that battle. Lexie Ball was the keeper for the Cards and she played all 60 minutes, picking up 7 saves with 9 goals allowed. Louisville had a wealth of scorers, as you might expect with 15 goals, and Tessa Chad led the way with 4 goals and 2 assists. Madison Hoover, Jillian Balog (2), Caroline Blalock, Brenna Shanahan, Julia Wood, Sarah Blalock (2), Emily Howell, Lexi Arens, and Ally Hall all also scored.

Louisville has a quick turnaround with another lacrosse rival in Marquette tomorrow at 1PM. This one is at home, but is also available on the ACC Network Extra if you can't make it out. Louisville has been strong against Marquette in the past, and will look to continue their winning ways and open the season with two straight wins. 

Cardinal Couple Radio Hour

All of this, and much more, will be available for your listening pleasure on the Cardinal Couple Radio Hour today at 11AM. The show airs on WCHQ FM, and is available at 100.9 FM,, or the WCHQ app. I was a very late scratch for today's show due to personal reasons, and the late decision will likely leave a microphone open. Nevertheless, the remainder of the team is more than capable of bringing you the very best in the joy and excitement of UofL women's sports, as they do every week. I look to be back in studio next week, where I'm sure to be chastised for my absence.


Until next time, Go Cards!

1 comment:

  1. Great starts for Lacrosse and Softball. Tough loss to UNC today. Go Cards. Win everything!

    Blue Lou


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