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Friday, May 20, 2016

Softball Cards fall to Nebraska 3-2 in NCAA opener -- FRIDAY CARDINAL COUPLE


If yesterday's loss to the Nebraska Cornhuskers in the Columbia NCAA Softball Regional seemed eerily familiar, it had good reason to seem that way. Louisville lost a 4-3 game to Nebraska back in February in the ACC/BIG Ten Challenge on a walk-off hit at the end of the game...back then it was Kiki Stokes who did the damage during Nebraska's final at-bat. .

Yesterday the Cards intentionally walked Stokes in the bottom of the seventh to load the bags with one out...presumably to avoid a similar scenario to the one in February. That brought M.J. Knighten to the plate, though, and she skipped a single past Cards shortstop Sidney Melton to end the contest. In both games, it was Maryssa Becker in the circle taking the loss.

Knighten had been injured in the first inning of the game... sliding into second base to break up Melton's throw to first after a ground ball and played on a twisted ankle the final six innings...making several great plays in the field despite the hobbling. 

The decisive bottom of the seventh started for the Huskers with a single and then a throwing error on a sacrifice bunt...putting runners on first and second. After a ground out advanced the runners to second and third, Pearsall called for the intentional walk for Stokes...who was 2 for 3 in the contest prior to that...and Knighten got her second hit of the game to end it. 

Louisville fell behind on a two-run homer from Madi Unzicker in the bottom of the second but countered to tie the contest in the top of the third when Hailey Smith delivered a two-out, two-RBI single to score Morgan Meyer and Sidney Melton. Besides those two run outbursts, the contest was primarily a pitcher's duel between Becker and Nebraska's Emily Lockman.

The Cards slip to the consolation part of the Columbia bracket...where they'll face BYU in the double-elimination format. Game time is scheduled for 4:30 p.m. Homestanding Missouri run-ruled the Cougars 9-0 in five innings yesterday to advance to the winner's bracket to face the Cornhuskers at 2 p.m. today. 

ESPN 3 will have the internet feed for the Cards vs. Coogs contest.  

A tough way to go down after staying competitive the entire way. It goes back to the philosophy that the game is a matter of inches and seconds.

The final single that won it was a ready-made, get-out-of-inning-unscathed double play ball if it's hit just slightly left of where it travelled or if the infielder is standing a few inches closer to second base. The Nebraska two-run homer is a double off the left field fence if it lands three inches lower on the wall. A bang-bang play where Morgan Meyer appeared to beat out an infield single but was called out...the Cards could use a few breaks in the time, space and measurement categories.  

We hope the Cards get the inches advantage today against a BYU team that looked totally demoralized yesterday against Missouri. I guess grand slam home runs in the second inning might do that to you.

Hopefully, Louisville can hang a "L" on BYU (that would make it BYUL...or LBYU, I guess) and get a chance to face the loser of the MO v NEB game. Like the BeeGees said so many, many years ago, it's all about stayin' alive. 




  1. Looks like ESPN3,so not on TV, but streamed.

  2. Ask and ye shall receive, There ya go, readers.


  3. Watched yesterday and it was obvious that the Cards just collapsed in crunch time. Costly throwing error and then the walk to Stokes should not have been. You pitch to Stokes and hope for a grounder that you get an out at first. Then it's two outs. But, who am I to second guess a veteran coach?

    Interesting that the Cards are 2-5 since the loss to UK. Maybe it's why they were a bubble team. Hopefully, you get a big win against BYU today guessing that it will we Hensley pitching and then continue to advance in the consolation bracket. The Deb Factor.

    1. From a strategy viewpoint, you usually elect to load the bases so there is a force out possibility at any of the three bases or home well as a potential double-play chance that would have gotten the Cards out of the inning. Also, remember that Knighten was hobbled with the ankle and Stokes had gotten two hits off Becker in three at bats. I can't fault the strategy....especially when it was Stokes who delivered the walk-off winner earlier in the season when the two met. Yes, it backfired...but the thinking I feel was sound. The Cards got the grounder they wanted to set up the double play and had a slowed Knighten trying to get to first but the grounder just got by Melton. It happens. A game of inches and split seconds. Move on and try not to lose again.


    2. I would agree Paulie. The Cards played the percentages. They didn't work. Let's hope they slug up against BYU today and then can complete the nightcap with a win over Nebraska or Mizzou.

    3. Not to create any attention to myself but I was in this scenario a few years ago when I pitched high school baseball. My team was tied 3-3 going into the bottom of the seventh and I allowed a infield hit and walk with no outs. Got a fielders choice for the first out but runners moved to second and third. A guy who had crushed one on me earlier in the game was coming up. Coach came out to the mound and said 'Let's put him on and go for the force out with the next guy.' We did but the next guy, who hadn't hit me all day blooped one into left and game was over. My shortstop almost had it, leaping but inches short.

      I'd agree with the decision again if it came up but I also blame myself for not taking control of the inning earlier.

      Nick O.

    4. Paulie, in general I agree with you and the others on loading the bases as a good strategy.

      With only 1 out, though, I get *really* nervous doing it. Much more comfortable with idea with 2 outs on the board.

      It's all hindsight, though. Go forward and beat BYU.

  4. Missouri playing with a purpose. Looks like their coach is in hot water.

  5. Louisville Softball just seems to stop hitting in post-season play anymore. They only got 3 runs in two ACC games. Last year they got just 2 runs in two games in the NCAA Regional. I know a lot of it has to do with better competition but if the Cards can't run rule a very mediocre BYU team today, Pearsall needs to start looking for hitters that can deliver in the clutch. You guys have mentioned it here several times. Left on base runners in scoring position have hurt the Softball Cards all year long. If they could find another Bemis or Roth or Wolny who were players who could deliver in the clutch, Pearsall might get out of the Regionals.

  6. I did not like the move to walk the batter and load the bases with such a dangerous hitter coming to bat I told vivian at the time and said we would lose the game on that move. On the throwing error to first, the runner was inside the base path and thus, had the catcher had thrown the ball in at the bab and hit the runner it would have been interference on the runner. Runner out and the other runners return to the the bag. I taught my catchers at Manual High School not to throw around the runner if they are inside the base path.


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