Monday, May 13, 2019
Louisville Softball Opens NCAA Tournament vs. Southern Illinois -- MONDAY CARDINAL COUPLE
CARDS "WAIT OUT" SELECTION SHOW, GET REWARDED
The Louisville Softball squad is going to the NCAA Softball Tournament for the first time since 2016, being placed in the Evanston Region (hosted by Northwestern) and drawing the Southern Illinois Salukis for their first game. The Salukis and Cards will play at 1 p.m. EDT on Friday on the Northwestern home field and the contest will be available on ESPN 3.
Louisville (33-21) was the second-to-last team to have their name announced on the Selection Show. The selection show format started with the #1 seed in the tournament (Oklahoma), who would be playing in their regional, and worked down the seedings until they reached the #16 seed, which was Northwestern. As the pairings were announced, and no Louisville popped up...I began to wonder if the Cards were going to get the call.
Apprehension started to develop when I saw the #12 seed Tennessee's regional participants and no Cards. I didn't figure UofL would be sent to Oklahoma State and that proved true when they revealed the #13 seeded Cowboys bracket.
When #14 seed Kentucky's regional popped up, I thought maybe, just maybe, the committee had seen fit to put the Cards in Lexington...but it was fellow ACC member Virginia Tech placed there, along with the Cats, Toledo and Illinois.
Perhaps the Cards would land in the #15 seed Michigan bracket? Nope...Louisville wasn't headed to Ann Arbor.
Then, Northwestern was announced as the #16 seed. I watched as it was announced the Wildcats would take on Detroit. OK, here we go...final two are????
Louisville's name appeared on the screen. My blood pressure dropped back to close to normal and started jotting down the essentials for today's article and Daryl Foust's Sunday night radio show Ky Women Talk Sports...where I was appearing as a guest via phone in about 10 minutes.
Drama? Well, yeah...but what else can Cardinal fans expect out of the NCAA when it comes to anything Louisville related, right? See the squad's reaction at the link below:
LINK: LOUISVILLE SOFTBALL FINDS OUT THEY ARE GOING TO NCAA TOURNAMENT
It was later announced that Southern Illinois (33-13) was one of the last "at-large" teams to get in, so we can correctly assume that the Cards were the #2 seed in the #16th regional bracket. Louisville's late losing streak must have not concerned the committee too much, then, I'm assuming and the #35 RPI did influence their thinking.
The NCAA just has a funny, cliff-hanging, buzzer-beating way of showing it, I guess.
The Cards did not face S.I.U. in the regular season. They are 0-1 against the Salukis lifetime. Northwestern? Yes, Louisville saw them three times in the early portion of the 2019 softball schedule. In the Titan Classic Feb. 9th in Fullerton, CA...the Cards took a 1-0 loss. Six days later, the ACC vs. Big Ten Challenge had Louisville see the Wildcats twice in three days. An 9-8, nine-inning loss and 4-2 defeat befell Louisville in those contests. The Cards have improved dramatically since those early days of the season, however.
Unfortunately, Northwestern has, too
In common opponents, SIU (who plays in the Missouri Valley Conference) and the Cards have faced Kentucky, Indiana State and Bradley. Louisville beat Kentucky 8-7, SIU fell to the Cats 6-5. SIU was 3-0 in their series vs. Indiana State, Louisville 2-0. The Cards beat Bradley in both games, SIU was 2-1 against the Braves.
All told, five ACC schools will participate in the NCAA double-elimination field of 64. Besides the Cards, Notre Dame heads to #1 seed Oklahoma's stadium -- where they'll face Wisconsin in the first round. North Carolina got placed in #12 seed Tennessee's region and the Tar Heels will battle "the" Ohio State University to begin. #4 seed Florida State is the only ACC school to host a regional and they'll see Bethune-Cookman in their first outing. As we mentioned earlier, Virginia Tech heads to Lexington and will have Illinois in the opener.
Out of the other 63 teams in the 2019 Tournament, Louisville has faced 11 of them. The Cards overall record against these eleven is 9-12. Cal State Fullerton, Michigan, Tennessee, Missouri, Lipscomb, Auburn, Kentucky, Notre Dame, Virginia Tech, Florida State and North Carolina are those foes.
Being in the #16th seeded team's bracket means that, if you advance, you're headed to the #1 seed's home (Oklahoma). More on that later, down the road, though. the Cards need to eliminate the competition in Evanston before they can think about the further-down-the-road possibilities.
We'll break down the Salukis and their season as the game draws nearer. Louisville has called for a pre-NCAA press conference tournament for Tuesday noon at Ulmer Stadium and we'll have that coverage for you here at CARDINAL COUPLE.
Have a marvelous Monday!