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Sunday, May 20, 2012

Game report - Michigan blanks softball Cards 4-0 to win Regional

GAME REPORT: Cards fall 4-0 to Wagner, Michigan


-Louisville with opportunities but no runs in Sunday final.

Pitching her third complete game in three days, Michigan freshman pitcher Haylie Wagner shut out Louisville on Sunday...allowing seven hits. 

It seemed like every time Louisville would mount a challenge, a spectacular Michigan fielding play would get them out of danger. The Wolverines turned three double plays against the Cards in the first four innings.

Michigan did all the damage they would need offensively in the top of the first inning. Tori Collins drew the start for Louisville on the mound, but it wasn't her day early on. After retiring the first UM batter, Collins allowed a walk, a single, another walk and Ashley Lane's single to center scored two Wolverines. 

Sandy Pearsall went to the circle to make a change and brought in Caralisa Connell to replace the struggling Collins. Connell got Louisville out out the inning with no further damage...but the Cards were down 2-0 and hadn't been to bat yet. 

Louisville threatened in the bottom of the first. Jennifer Esteban beat out an infield hit and a sacrifice bunt by Kristin Austin left both runners safe. Katie Keller bunted to try and advance the runners, but Esteban was thrown out at third for the first out. Alicja Wolny followed with a grounder to short and Austin was retired at second. A grounder by Jordan Trimble to second got Michigan out of the jam. 

Michigan added a run in the top of the second when Sara Driesenga's two-out single brought Lyndsay Doyle to the plate. 

The Cards menaced again in the bottom of the second. Taner Fowler started the inning with a single to left. Maggie Ruckenbrod hit into a double play at second though to clear the bases for Wagner. Katelyn Mann punched a single to center but Whitney Arion's shot back to Wagner was fielded and Arion was thrown out at first to end the Cards threat. 

Connell retired the Wolverines in order in the top of the third. Louisville got a one-out single from Austin in the bottom of the third..but a hard hit shot by Keller was deflected by Michigan short-stop Amy Knapp to second baseman Lane..who touched the bag an then threw Keller out at first for another Wolverine double play to end the inning. 

Michigan added a fourth run in the top of the fourth. Amanda Chidester's two-out single to center brought Bree Evans to the plate and the Cards were looking at a 4-0 Michigan lead after three and a half innings.

Wolny drew a walk to start the Cards half of the fourth but a line shot by Trimble was fielded by Wagner who then threw to first to double up Wolny. It was the third double play of the game for UM. Fowler's fly to center ended the Cardinal fourth. 

Pearsall went with Chelsea Leonard as pitcher to start the fifth She got the first two Wolverines out but appeared to re-injure her knee when facing Steph Kirpatrick. Leonard left the field in obvious pain and Tori Collins re-entered the game as pitcher. She got Kirpatrick to fly out to center and finish the inning. 

The Cards were starting to get cold at the plate despite the warm day at Ulmer. Three up, three down for Louisville in the bottom of the fifth. Meanwhile Collins pitched herself into a sixth inning jam..two walks and a bunt single had the bases full of Wolverines with just one out...but she got both Driesenga and Lane to return to the dugout with strike outs swinging. 

Once again, the Cards hit three hard shots in the bottom of the sixth...but right at Michigan players and after six innings...Louisville was still down 4-0. 

Collins kept the Wolverine's quiet in the seventh. A long fly to deep left by pinch hitter Mandy Gardner mercifully fell into foul territory after clearing Esteban's range. The Cards were down to their last at-bat and needed some help. 

The inning started auspiciously, with Wolny and Trimble getting back-to-back singles to start the inning. The Cardinal faithful were up and cheering..but Fowler popped up to second, Ruckenbrod grounded out to short and Mann flew out to left to end the inning, the game and the Cards season. 

Collins took the loss...going 2.2 innings and allowing two runs and four hits. Connell saw 3.2 innings and gave up two runs on four hits. Leonard faced three batters in .2 innings...surrendering a hit that could have been ruled as error just as easily. 

Austin had two of the Cards seven hits. Esteban, Trimble, Wolny, Fowler and Mann contributed one each. 

A great season, despite the two losses in two days...the first two losses of the season for Louisville in Ulmer Stadium. The Cards handled the Cats and Valparaiso during the regional..but had no answers for Wagner's pitching. 

With all but three seniors returning next year, Louisville looks like they could be a powerhouse again. Losing Collins, the pitching ace, will hurt some..but her tournament performance was a little less spectacular than her regular season exploits. 

Kristin Austin's hitting and Tesha Paysen's leadership and defensive skills will be missed as well...but the Cards should be "stacked" again for 2013. 

55-5 might be in danger next year. Advancement to a Super Regional would be great. The Cardinal fans that flocked to Ulmer over the last three days deserve nothing less in 2013. 

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