(PAULIE FILLS IN FOR JARED TODAY...WHO HAS SUFFERED A LAPTOP CRASH. FORTUNATELY, NO ONE WAS INJURED)
SOFTBALL DODGING RAINDROPS TODAY?
There is a 40% chance of rain today in Raleigh, NC. This matters because the Louisville Softball team is there, hoping to get in their final three game set of the regular season. North Carolina State is the foe. I doubt Ms. Wuf shows up, since I won't be there...but...let's hope the Cards do.
We know how the ACC and the teams in it like to adjust schedules to try and get contests in around the rain drops. I haven't seen any changes yet in the scheduled 6 p.m. start today for the first game, nor changes for either of the other two planned this weekend. Don't be surprised if there are, though.
40% thunderstorms in the afternoon and evening are in the forecast for today. Saturday looks only slightly better and Sunday's forecast is a mess for Raleigh.
We're hoping that, despite the weather, the UofL pitchers are ready for a bit of success. We'd like to see the Danielle Watson that stymied North Carolina last Sunday with one run and five hits. We're hoping we get the effective Taylor Roby who has kept ACC powerhouse squads silent all season in compiling a 13-2 record and who has a ERA well south of the 3.00 per game mark. It's always nice to see senior Megan Hensley do what she's done effectively for four years here and keep opposing batters off the bases. She's 9-3 and has a 2.85 ERA this season.
I've become less worried about Louisville's batting prowess as the season has rolled along. You can count on Celene Funke to boom a triple at any time. She leads the nation in them. Sidney Melton always finds a way on base. Hensley leads the squad in home runs and Roby is also over the .300 mark from the plate -- like the first three mentioned.
That's a pretty nice top four to send out against the opposing circle performer.
But, wait! There's more !!
It doesn't get any better for the other team's hurler after that opening foursome. Kyra Snyder is flirting with the .300 mark at the plate. Freshman catcher Rebecca Chung is over .300 and second in home runs. Shortstop Caitlin Ferguson leads the squad in doubles, Jordan Wolfe...filling in for injured regular left-fielder Charley Butler...is batting .417 and Maddie Newman (the ninth batter in the lineup) is at .260.
It's enough to make an opposing pitcher shake their head and wonder what they did to deserve this? The Cards have rough-housed two of the best pitchers in the league in UNC's Brittany Pickett and FSU's Meghan King this year. And, when they get on the bags, they'll steal, steal, steal on an opponent.
Hoping for clear skies, no delays or reschedules, strong arms, active bats and three wins this weekend for the Louisville Softball squad in Raleigh. Quite honestly, it's a good thing they aren't playing here at home. It's Derby Weekend. Get out the umbrella, naturally.
KENTUCKY OAKS? IS IT ALL ABOUT BELLAFINA?
There are 13 races scheduled at Churchill Downs today...plenty of opportunities to watch the ponies "turn left" (hopefully not into another horse)...but Mother Nature is definitely not cooperating with fans headed out to the track early.
With some excellent Stakes races going in the slop and yielding turf, nevertheless -- the big one is the Kentucky Oaks. And, #4 on your program for the 11th race -- Bellafina. Can anyone "get"to her?
She is "all that". Unlike the Derby, where six or more runners are making a claim that they'll best the field of 19 (yes, another scratch)...Bellafina is a superstar filly.
She could probably even survive a Jeff Walz/Beth Burns conditioning drill or run at pace along-side Lacrosse's Tessa Chad and not breath heavily. You think Dana Evans has speed? Check this gal out.
Bellafina, loosely translated from Italian...means "beautiful and fine". And, this three-year-old certainly fills that description.
She'll take on 13 challengers in the 1-18th mile Oaks. That we know of. "Scratch" time -- withdrawing horses from races -- is 9 a.m. this morning. In my opinion, there is no way she'll stay at the 2-1 morning line odds. Be thankful if you get "even" money on her. I'll be keeping and eye on those proceedings at Churchill today, as well as tracking what's going on with Louisville Softball.
I don't know too many that would refuse $4 back from $2 invested. Profit margin!
As a sideline, feel free to check out my selections for the Oaks card of racing at my other website... www.paulsykes.com ... where I combat insomnia by trying to pick out thoroughbred race winners. I'll also have the Kentucky Derby picks, as long as the coffee holds out...on Saturday.
No guarantees here. Just my handicapping skills out there for you to see. As always, bet sensibly and within your budget. Play 'em anyway you want. I'm just supplying the car, here. Drive it however you feel like.
Soggy Friday to ya!