After a three-game road trip, Louisville Women's Basketball returns to the friendly confines of the KFC Yum! Center for their last Thursday night home game. Don't worry, the Cards still have two more home games, both games will be played on a Sunday. So, let's take a look at tonight.
Teams: #3 Louisville vs Virginia
Records: Louisville (21-2, 11-1 ACC), Virginia (3-18, 0-11 ACC)
Where: KFC Yum! Center, Louisville, KY
When: 7:00 p.m. ET
TV: ACC Network Extra (online)
Radio: 790-AM WKRD
Head-to-Head Record: Louisville leads 10-2
Coaches: Jeff Walz, 15th season as Louisville head coach
Tina Thompson, fourth season as Virginia head coach
Key Players: Louisville: Hailey Van Lith (13.0 ppg), Kianna Smith (11.8 ppg, .409 3-pt pct), Emily Engstler (11.0 ppg, 8.5 rpg, .439 3-pt pct), Olivia Cochran (8.8 ppg, 5.4 rpg)
Virginia: Camryn Taylor (12.8 ppg, 6.1 rpg), Amandine Toi (12.3 ppg), Mir McLean (11.4 ppg, 6.4 rpg), Taylor Valladay (8.1 ppg, 3.6 assists per game)
Despite a few players with some strong numbers, Virginia has been nothing short of bad this year. The Cavaliers are still looking for the first ACC win and their first win since the beginning of December. Their three wins have come against Cal State Fullerton (baseball fans may remember some controversial calls in the Super Regional a few years back), William & Mary, and George Washington.
In the four-ish years under Coach Tina Thompson, Virginia has been one of the worst in the ACC. They don't have a single winning season under her tenure and they cancelled their season due to COVID-19 concerns after starting 0-5 last year. It's a shame to see them struggle so much after Thompson has had such incredible success in her playing career. I mean, she's the WNBA's second all-time leading scorer, has won four WNBA Championships, and has two Olympic gold medals.
This is a game where Louisville should run right over Virginia with little-to-no trouble. The Cards handled Clemson with ease before putting Syracuse to shame last week. This is another game Louisville could potentially see the century mark and could even get close to doubling up Virginia's total points.
However, we are in ACC play and crazy things happen in conference play. Virginia has nothing to lose and can play the role of David and take down Goliath tonight if Louisville goes in over-confident or sluggish. Still, my money goes on a 30+ point victory.
This is Louisville's Play4Kay game and the Kay Yow Cancer Fund will be promoted throughout the game. Despite our lack of findings in some digging earlier in the week, the Play4Kay Free Throw Challenge is back! Right now, Louisville is getting their butts kicked and sits in fifth in the final projections at an estimated $1194.00 raised. Elon, UW-Platteville, and Muskingum are the schools ahead of UofL. However, it's Jada Williams' Play4Kay Free Throw Challenge account (not tied to a school) is projected to finish with $6595.00 donated. I have attached the link below if you would like to donate.
Click here - https://pledgeit.org/louisville-play4kay-2022
Also, this is considered to be a PINK out, so please dress accordingly if possible! Despite popular belief, real men DO wear pink and I will be rocking mine tonight.
Softball Starts Season in Florida
Choosing to start their season where it's much warmer, Louisville Softball kicks off their 2022 season today. The Cards are competing in the FAU Classic with five games over three days. The first two games come in a double-header against host Florida Atlantic beginning at approximately 4:00 p.m. ET.
Boca Raton has a high of 77 degrees today while Louisville will reach a high of 48 degrees. Smart move, Holly Aprile. But please bring some warm weather home with you soon!
Both games today will be aired on CUSA TV. Sadly, it's not actual TV and is just an online streaming service that you have to pay a subscription fee for. There will be free access to live stats through SideArm Sports here.
In case the hyperlink does not work from whatever device you're on, you can also copy this link for the free live stats- https://fausports.com/sidearmstats/softball/summary.
Louisville Softball will have some familiar faces will also some new faces mixed in. I expect to see some crazy shake-ups in the lineup.
Taylor Roby returns for her senior season and will lead the Cards on the mound while having a strong presence on offense. Her 14 home runs and 43 RBIs led Louisville last season. From the circle, her 12 wins, 2.96 ERA, and 83 strikeouts were all a team best.
There should be one heck of a battle for the starting catcher position between senior Cassady Greenwood, senior Rebecca Chung, and graduate transfer Kendall Smith. My best guess is to see a three-person rotation for a while, but Greenwood and Smith splitting a majority of the duties later in the season.
Pitching is going to be an area where questions will be raised. Besides Roby, the field is fairly open with who will step up and be the number two and number three pitchers. Gabby Holloway returns for her sophomore year after a solid rookie campaign. She should have a leg up over much of the competition. Assuming Chardonnay Harris is healthy, having a left-handed pitcher in the rotation can benefit the Cards and keep opposing offenses on their toes. Taja Felder is another one who was out last season due to injury and should be back. Payton Hudson saw some time in the circle last year and looks to be more of an impact with the bullpen this year. The newbie to the crew is freshman Sam Booe, who had an impressive high school career.
Makayla Hurst is back for her final season and should command the first base position with little challenge, as she has been consistent for the Cards both offensively and defensively.
With the graduation of Maddy Newman, the second base position will see a new face for the first time in five years. If Jenna Servi doesn't transition to second base after moving around the left side of the infield last year then I believe a freshman will take the starting spot.
Shortstop is up for grabs too. With Sydney Bickel moving to more of an outfield position this complicates the middle infield situation even more.
Elana Ornelas and Servi both saw time at third base last year and it would not surprise me to see one of them get the start here.
Carmyn Greenwood returns for her final year of eligibility. Greenwood was an All-ACC selection last year and led the team in batting average. She should transition to the center field position following the departure of Celene Funke.
Charley Butler should be healthy and ready to go and will most likely see one of the corner outfield positions. I expect her other corner outfield partner to be graduate transfer Hannah File, who joins the Cards after several successful seasons with James Madison including two NCAA Super Regional appearances.
One good news for Louisville Softball is that they were picked to finish sixth in the ACC out of 13 teams. The Cards finished sixth last season as well, but now deal with the loss of two key players in Funke and Newman. Florida State, Clemson, Virginia Tech, and Duke are all ranked in the Top 25 and were picked to take the top four spot in the conference. Notre Dame, who is not currently ranked was picked to finish fifth.
Daryl will have a busy day tomorrow as she recaps women's basketball and softball while previewing day two of softball and the lacrosse season opener. Best wishes to you tomorrow, Daryl.
Happy Thursday and Go Cards!