Cards Get Runs When Needed; Beat Bradley and UMass
Game 1: UofL 10 - Bradley 8
Louisville's first two games in the Louisville Classic didn't go the way Coach Sandy Pearsall likely expected them to when she created the schedule for this season. In the end, the Cards came away with a pair of wins, but both took quite a bit more effort than one might think when looking at the opponents. It took consistent scoring as well as a late big inning to put away Bradley, and a heroic final half inning was necessary to get the game against UMass into extra innings.
Bradley got the first game started off strong, with the first batter of the game singling to get on base. After a foul out and a walk, another single brought the first run of the game in to score. Louisville got the run back in the bottom of the second on a Jamie Soles double, but Bradley lit up the scoreboard in the top of the third. Danielle Watson was chased after 2.2 innings having given up 6 runs. Although only three were earned, it was clear Watson didn't have her best against Bradley having already given up two walks, a wild pitch, and a hit by pitch in those first three innings. Bradley was also having no trouble seeing the ball from Watson as they piled up 6 hits.
Louisville cut the deficit to 6-3 in the bottom half when an error off the bat of Megan Hensley, who had also come in to replace Watson on the mound, scored two. An inning later, Caitlin Ferguson tied the game with a three run shot to left center. Both teams were scoreless in the fifth, as Hensley seemed to have calmed the storm from Bradley. However, in the top of the sixth, back to back home runs followed the first out of the inning and Bradley regained a two run lead. They threatened to increase it further when an error loaded the bases with only two out, but Hensley was able to coax a ground ball to third base to get out of the inning without allowing any more runs.
The Cards wasted no time in the bottom half. The first three batters reached going single, error, single to score a run. A strike out and a pop out followed and it looked like the Cards might only get one run out of it, before Soles singled in the tying run and Jenna Jordan swatted a two run double. Hensley came back out in the top of the seventh and iced the game, forcing a foul out and two strikeouts after allowing a leadoff single. Hensley finished allowing 7 hits in 4.1 innings, but only gave up the two home runs. She walked three but made up for it with six Ks. Despite the outstanding start to the season that Danielle Watson has had, Megan Hensley continues to be the same consistent thrower that she has been in the past, and it's great to be able to turn to a veteran pitcher with confidence. Louisville's offense was led by Caitlin Ferguson who scored on all three of her hits and swatted in 4 RBI and Sidney Melton who also parlayed three hits into three runs. Jamie Soles and Jenna Jordan both picked up 2 RBI apiece.
Game 2: UofL 5 - UMass 4
Despite a rough outing against Bradley, Pearsall turned right back to Watson to start against UMass. Watson responded by pitching 8 full innings and picking up her 12th win of the season. Watson had a bit of trouble with location, walking 5 and giving up 7 hits, but she was able to strikeout 7 batters as well. Despite allowing all four runs earned, Pearsall had faith in her freshman, and left her in when things got tough in the sixth inning. In any sport, it is easy to question a coach's decision making when reading the box score. The outcome of the game has a major effect on your view of the decisions. Had Louisville been unable to come all the way back in this one, seeing Pearsall leave Watson in the game after walking two while only down one run might have been a head scratcher. However, there is nothing to say that Hensley wouldn't have also given up a three run homer had she inherited the situation. To Watson's credit, she finished the inning, and then fired back to back scoreless innings to allow Louisville to tie and win in consecutive innings.
Louisville's bats were silent in this game until the bottom of the seventh inning. The Cards put together 7 singles over the first six innings but were unable to turn any into runs. As a pitcher, it can't exactly be the best feeling to be down one run and watch your teammates leave seven runners on base in the first five innings. It was all made up for, though, when the Cards entered their final chance at bat. Sidney Melton opened with a single and Nicole Pufahl added a double after a Ferguson flew out. Madison Cousineau walked to load the bases and a Megan Hensley single moved everyone one station. The Cards' first run was on the board and the bases were still loaded with one out. An error plated two more runs and a Kara Snyder single brought in the tying run. With runners on first and second and only one out, Alison 'Mike' Szydlowski struck out and Celene Funke popped out. New ball game.
In the eighth, with a runner placed on second, Danielle Watson calmly struck out the first two batters of the inning. The control issue came into play when she walked the next batter, with the fourth ball going wild. With runners on the corners and two outs, Watson fired another wild pitch, this one fielded and returned to the plate in time to tag out the runner from third. The Cards made short work of the bottom half. A productive groundout moved their free runner from second to third, and a single from Caitlin Ferguson won the game.
Neither game last night was the prettiest effort from the Cards. That said, they managed to come away with two victories and moved their record to 17-4 on the season. They'll have opportunities to improve on their showings last night as they'll rematch against UMass today at three, followed by the lone game against Eastern Michigan. They'll face Bradley again tomorrow at 12:30.
Softball photos courtesy of Jared Anderson.
Three Women Earn All-American Honors at Indoor T&F Championships
The Cards were led by a familiar name yesterday as Emmonnie Henderson posted her best finish at an NCAA Championship event in her final year. Henderson was named a First Team All-American when she finished second in the shot put. Teammates Holly Hankenson and Alexis Gibbons were both named to the Second Team All-American squad based on their performances yesterday as well. Hankenson finished 13th in the pentathlon event and Gibbons finished 15th in the long jump. Action continues at the championship today and is available on ESPN3.
Cardinal Couple Radio Hour
Paulie has returned from his trip to one of the Carolinas, and he returns to the studio today to share his experiences over the mic. No word yet on if he'll be bringing the ACC Championship trophy to Mellwood Avenue with him. Join us for the Cardinal Couple Radio Hour live at 11AM on WCHQ FM. The show is available over the radio, online at wchqfm.com, or on the WCHQ app. You can also catch a live stream of the show with video on the WCHQ 100.9 FM Facebook page.
Until next time, Go Cards!