Softball Loses Series Opener 4-3
Louisville softball is in Blacksburg this weekend taking on one of their highest-ranked opponents of the season, and they opened the weekend with a very strong performance. Though they may have missed out on their biggest opportunity to steal a win from the #3 Hokies, Louisville showed great determination and held on tight for the entire game.
It was an inauspicious start for the Cards, who went 3-up, 3-down in the top half of the inning on just 9 pitches (pop-out and 2K, nearly an immaculate inning), but Roby rewarded them with three groundouts in the bottom half. Unfortunately, those three groundouts were precluded by a leadoff single and a walk, and the Hokies were able to make use of the productive outs to score a run.
After another 1-2-3 offensive inning, Roby was on the ropes again after a 1-out double put two runners in scoring position. Fortunately, Virginia Tech didn't have a speedster on the paths, as a double will frequently score a runner from first in softball, and the Cards were able to make a play at the plate on the ensuing grounder. Another groundout ended the inning, and Louisville held onto a tenuous 1-0 deficit.
The top of the fourth didn't see Louisville continue their momentum, though, as a HBP put Kendall Smith on base with one out, but she stood out there for only four pitches while Louisville followed the HBP with a three-pitch strikeout and a first pitch popout. The bottom of the inning saw Virginia Tech ready to get their lead back. An eight-pitch walk opened the frame, and a steal following a flyout put the runner in scoring position. Putting runners in scoring position is a good way to win games, as a single brought the runner home. Smelling blood in the water, VT went for a pinch-runner with one out, but the aggressive attempt backfired when Louisville completed a strike 'em out, throw 'em out double-play, with Kendall Smith firing the ball to Ally Alexander for the tag. In those situations, we say thank you to the batter for watching the third strike and not slowing down the catcher with a swing.
With the lead once more, Rochard was inspired, and she struck out the side to show it. It wasn't easy, though, as all three batters worked the count. What could have theoretically been done in nine pitches took Rochard 22, with Alexander working an 11-pitch at bat. While we can't see whether she swung at pitches out of the zone in the at bat (she almost certainly did), she didn't watch any in the zone either. She took three balls and fouled off six pitches, including four money pitches on the full count. Unfortunately, the second of her two whiffs in the at bat was the third strike, but it was an impressive plate appearance.
The top of the order finally came alive in the sixth, with Greenwood and Otis opening the inning with back-to-back doubles to recoup a run, but Rochard tightened the belt again, striking out the next three batters to strand Otis at second and to hold on to the lead. A single opened the bottom half of the inning, and a pinch-hit double scored the run to continue the seesaw of the 1-2 run advantage. Roby managed to return the favor from the top half and strand the runner at second but Louisville was down to their last scheduled plate appearance and trailed by two runs. With the bottom third of the order up, Louisville would usually not like their chances, but the bottom third had just as many hits as the top third in this one going into the seventh so anything could happen.
The Cards fears looked to be realized when they opened the inning with a pair of popups to dig a major hole. Down to their last out and needing two runs, the Cards dug in. Refusing Rochard the time to get settled in, Alexander and Servi were both first pitch swinging, each grabbing a single. Greenwood watched a pair of balls, presumably Rochard reacting and trying to get an easy out with an aggressive swing, before sending the third pitch down the left field line. Unfortunately for the Cards, the left fielder had it well defended, and, while Alexander scored, Servi could only advance to second. That set up Korbe Otis, who got down to her final strike before also sending a ball down to left field. Again, it was well defended, and Jenna Servi was tagged out at the plate trying to score the tying run. Louisville fell 4-3.
The Cards will get another shot today, with game two of the series getting underway at 2PM. Today's game will be on ACCNX, with tomorrow's noon finale getting the ACCN treatment. Louisville will look to stay at or above .500 in conference this weekend, which they can do if they can manage a split in these two games.
Lacrosse Hosts Notre Dame
Today is Senior Day for the Louisville lacrosse team, and they'll host the Fighting Irish from South Bend in Cardinal Stadium. The game starts at noon and the Senior Day festivities will happen before the opening draw. The Thunder Over Louisville Air Show isn't set to begin until 3PM, so you'd have plenty of time to get down to the Waterfront after the match if you wanted to turn out. Notably, the only way to access Cardinal Stadium for the game will be via Gate 2 on the Floyd Street side of the stadium, so keep that in mind as you make your way over.
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Until next time, Go Cards!