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Saturday, February 17, 2018

Still Not Quite Spring... -- SATURDAY CARDINAL COUPLE

Despite the warm weather on Thursday and the wave of spring sports which are now underway, there are always things to remind us that we aren't quite through with winter. One of those things was the consistently falling temperature yesterday, leading to quite the brisk evening. The other is that the winter sports are coming to some of the most important parts of their seasons. Paired with the beginning of spring sports, it makes this time of year very exciting.

Softball Sweeps Double Header over Northwestern

In Raleigh for the ACC/B1G Challenge (and to stay away from the cold as best as possible), the Louisville softball team continues their front loaded schedule. Coming off of a great opening weekend where they finished 4-1, the Cards have another big weekend as they faced Northwestern twice yesterday and will take on Ohio State today and tomorrow.

I gave you a lengthy recap about each game last week, and I'm sure that's not what you're looking for with your typical Saturday morning. The box scores are extremely telling for baseball/softball, and all I can effectively do without having watched is regurgitate the play by play. What I can (and will) do is take a look at some of the key stats from the two games and analyze them as they pertain to the overall season.

The first game was a rowdy one, in which Louisville scored four runs in the top of the seventh to tie the game and one more in the first extra inning to take the lead. Megan Hensley ultimately finished with the win after earning the start and pitching the final innings, but did not pitch all 8 innings. Softball is interesting that way. In a tight spot in the third inning, Danielle Watson was brought on to clean up the damage. It didn't work, and she didn't look much better in the fourth, when Hensley was brought back into the pitcher's circle. Both pitchers ended up with three runs allowed, with a total of 4 being earned. I pointed out last week that free passes by pitchers were an issue, and they continued to be so in the first game, as Hensley allowed 4 walks and hit 3 batters while Watson walked three and struck out zero in just one inning pitched. To her credit, Hensley did strike out 7. 

On the offensive side, Louisville scored 7 runs, and pretty big number, and just enough to win. Interestingly, of the six runs they scored in regulation, zero were earned. How often do you see a game that is tied by a three run homer in which no runs are earned and won by a sac fly, the only earned run of the game for the winning team. I would argue that's pretty uncommon. Fortunately, you don't get different points for unearned runs, so they count just the same. Louisville did a great job of exploiting errors and general mistakes by Northwestern, and sometimes that's what it takes to win. It can't always be about a perfect offensive game. Whatever works.

Freshman standout pitcher, Danielle Watson
The second game was more of a pitcher's duel, with Louisville winning only 3-2. Like the late game heroics in the first game, Louisville once more tied the game late (in the sixth) and won later (with a walkoff in the seventh). Danielle Watson got the start in this one, and she did a bit better than her stint in the previous game. Watson gave up only two runs, one earned, and only 2 hits. She finished with seven strikeouts in seven innings, BUT she also finished with six walks. Nine walks in 8 innings in the same day isn't ideal, but a pair of wins is what it is. Hopefully the bullpen sessions continue to work on control.

The Cards offense once again benefited from an unearned run, as most teams do in a game, but this time it was only one unearned, and their other two came legitimately. So far, the Louisville offense has shown a propensity to lead the team, which is important in a season where pitching is such a big question mark. In games in which the Cards have scored, yesterday's 3 run game is the lowest offensive output. Their lone loss came in the only game which was a shutout, showing how important the offense is. The old adage, you can't win if you don't score, is as true as you can get, but with this team it may be that they'll need to score a lot, as they've yet to shut any team out defensively. 

The Cards will get another opportunity against a major conference opponent when they take on Ohio State today starting at 10AM.

Yesterday's Wins and Upcoming Events

Yesterday saw the women's tennis team return to action in Bass Rudd as Marshall came to town. The Cards dispatched of the Herd fairly easily, winning 5-0. The win is Louisville's fifth sweep of the season, and they're currently sitting at 9-1, with a lone loss coming 3-4 against Tulsa in Murfreesboro. The Cards will get Furman at home tomorrow and then more than another week before returning to conference play on March 4th. Louisville is 2-0 in conference so far, but there is a long season ahead as they work toward the conference championship at the end of April.

Speaking of ACC Championships, Louisville Swimming and Diving is currently competing in one. The Cards garnered three more gold medals and a bronze yesterday, while also sending 13 more competitors to final events today in the last day of competition. As has been the norm this season, Mallory Comerford and Grace Oglesby led the Cards yesterday, both winning individual gold medals. Going into the final day of competition, the women's team is in second place, over 100 points back of first place Virginia, but also nearly 100 points clear of third place NCST. A second place finish at the ACC tournament would be nothing to hang your head about going into the national events.

After nearly the whole week off, the lacrosse team will be back in action this afternoon. A big win over Marquette in the home opener looks to be a springboard for the team in their first season under a new head coach. They'll take on a familiar foe today, one to whom they saw defeat last season, when they take on Denver at 1PM. The game is at home, but is also available on ACC Network Extra for those that cannot make it out.

Cardinal Couple Radio Hour

After missing last week's radio show (I spent the entire day with my face buried in my fundamentals of engineering prep book), I am headed back to Mellwood Ave to rejoin the Cardinal Couple Radio Hour. This week will feature myself, Paulie, Jeff, and regular guest, Daryl Foust. Daryl is always a thrill to have on as her knowledge of, and insight into, UofL athletics is tough to beat. We're excited to be able to bring you this weekly show thanks to the people that make it happen at WCHQ FM. WCHQ is a local nonprofit station bringing you local music and local programming. You can listen to the channel at 100.9 FM, on their website at, or using the WCHQ app. All of those are perfectly viable ways to listen to the channel every day, but also on Saturday mornings from 11-12 when you join us for the Cardinal Couple Radio Hour.

Facebook Live is another option. It's new to us, so expect chaos...

Until next time, Go Cards!

1 comment:

  1. Apologies for the non-broadcast of the Cardinal Couple Radio Hour this morning. Our engineer overslept. It happens...

    We should be back next week.



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