SOFTBALL -- A HISTORY OF -- by JARED ANDERSON
Louisville Softball was founded in 2000 as part of a mass addition of sports programs shortly after Tom Jurich took over as athletic director in 1997. They prepare to enter their 20th season this upcoming school year.
Sandy Pearsall had been a head coach at Miami (OH) for the previous six seasons and was brought in to build the program from the ground up. And she did just that. Pearsall built a strong program that saw plenty of time nationally ranked and commonly appeared in NCAA Tournaments. The Cards won several championships during her reign and spent time in the Big East, AAC, and ACC. Pearsall recently retired following the end of the 2018 season. She finished her time at UofL with 718 wins.
Holly Aprile came in from Pittsburgh for the start of the 2018 season. She is only the second head coach for the softball team. During her first year as head coach the Cards upset rival Kentucky and took down Florida State twice in a three-game series. She prepares for her second season as head coach.
Softball has had one home in it’s entire history. Ulmer Stadium is part of Cardinal Park and was constructed solely for softball. When the Cards played their first home game it was the first UofL event at any part of Cardinal Park. The stadium has a capacity of approximately 2500 people and has been the host site for conference and NCAA Tournament games. Ulmer Stadium has also played host to high school softball events as well.
There have been seven All-American selection at UofL. Alicja Wolny and Katie Keller are the most recent with their selections in 2013. Wolny is a favorite to make the Great Britain Olympic team.
Louisville’s first win was a 1-0 victory against Western Illinois in their second ever game. They got wrecked 10-2 by Alabama in their very first game but finished the year with a winning record. 2002 and 2003 would end up being the only losing seasons in program history. The 55-5 record in 2012 has been the best season to date.
The Cards return a solid lineup for the 2020 season, despite graduation of "do-it-all" star Megan Hensley and Sidney Melton at "the hot corner". They return the NCAA leader in triples last season -- Celene Funke -- and eight starters. The pitching staff loses just Hensley and the incoming freshmen and transfers will create a spirited competition to gain playing time.
Even in their short history the Cards have faced a great deal of opponents. Their 27 wins against USF is the most against an individual opponent while their 25 losses against DePaul is the most losses. Their head-to-head record with rival Kentucky is even.
You can catch Paulie and Worldwide in the press box, often accompanied by Cardinal Couple friend Daryl Foust. You can find myself somewhere near the field taking pictures or cheering in the stands. Admission is usually free to softball games....the UK matchup and NCAA Regional play would be exceptions to that.
Jeff Walz has always placed great emphasis on the squads he has coached playing solid defense. He got that early this morning when his FIBA USA U 19 squad crushed Canada 81-46 to advance to the semifinals in World Cup action.
USA held the Canadians to 16 first-half points.
"We did exactly what we have to do in order to win" Walz commented after the win.
After falling behind early 4-2, Walz's squad took control of the action and led 26-9 after the first quarter. They continued the defensive pressure and took the next ten minutes 24-7 over Canada. The Canadians shot just 30% from the floor for the game -- USA went 36-72 for 50%. Walz's squad had 13 steals and forced 22 Canadian turnovers.
Rhyne Howard rediscovered her shooting touch after an off-night against Germany with 14 points on 6-8 shooting. She hit two of her three trifecta attempts. Queen Egbo recorded a double-double with 10 points and 10 rebounds. USA out-rebounded Canada 52-29.
The USA U 19 squad advances to play Belgium...who knocked off Japan this morning 63-43. The other two semifinalist squads are Spain and Australia .
Happy Friday and Go Cards!