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Saturday, April 10, 2021

Softball Splits Double-Header with Georgia Tech -- SATURDAY CARDINAL COUPLE

Cards Win Game 1 but Drop Game 2 in Extras

In a late decision made by the two teams, this weekend's schedule was adjusted to try to account for future weather. Yesterday became a double-header day on such late notice that the ACCNX could not carry the second game. I'm pretty sure all you have to do is push a button to make the stream go live, and we know the infrastructure was there because the first game was aired, but that is the reason that was given for the game being unaired. So it goes. 

In the first game, the Cards got started early. Carmyn Greenwood opened with an infield single. Celene Funke knocked a ball into right field to make it back-to-back hits, but Greenwood was thrown out trying to stretch from first to third. Funke, fortunately, was able to make it up to second to at least keep a runner in scoring position. Unlike much of the rest of the season, Louisville was finally able to take advantage with RISP, as Taylor Roby stepped in and blooped a third straight single into left. Funke turned on the jets to get home and the Cards led 1-0. A fielder's choice and a strikeout ended the inning.

After helping her own cause in the top half, Roby came out in the bottom of the first and went to work from the circle. That first inning saw just one runner reach on a two-out walk. A groundout ended the inning. Through six innings, Roby was extremely effective, allowing a total of five baserunners. The biggest GT threat came in the sixth, when they put a pair of runners on base, but a double play ended the inning. 

In the midst of Roby's great start, Louisville's offense decided after a couple of quiet innings that they didn't want to stop after just one run. In the fourth, the Cards woke back up. Roby led off with a walk and was pinch run for by Jordyn Wolfe. A popup gave the Cards one out but they wouldn't be deterred. Wolfe stole second and then reached third on a wild pitch. Taryn Weddle grounded in the infield and GT tried to make the play at home, but Wolfe was too quick. Weddle reached first on an RBI fielder's choice. Charley Butler stepped into the box and pulled a 1-2 pitch down the left field line and over the fence for a two-run homer. Rebecca Chung flew out, but a pair of two-out singles chased the Georgia Tech starter, bringing in a new pitcher for the turnover of the Louisville order. Carmyn Greenwood welcomed the new pitcher to the field with a two-RBI double, before Funke grounded out to end the inning. Louisville led 6-0.

It was good that the Cards decided to add some insurance. I mentioned that Roby was excellent through six innings because it was the seventh where things got dicey. The Louisville defense opened the bottom of the seventh with an error and Roby followed that with a walk to put a pair of runners on. Concerning, but not too much threat, since Louisville had a six run lead. A popup and a strikeout tamped down concerns even more as the Cards were now one out away from closing the game out. Georgia Tech wasn't ready to quit yet, though. A single loaded the bases and Roby plunked the next batter to score an unearned run. Left fielder Cameron Stanford (not a friendly last name for Cards fans at the moment) then stepped in and crushed a two-out grand slam. All four RBI were unearned thanks to that opening error, but unearned runs count the same on the scoreboard. It was now 6-5. Coach Aprile made the decision to bring on Gabby Holloway to secure the last out, which she did with some effort, inducing a full-count groundout. Cards win 6-5.

In the second game, it was the Yellow Jackets who decided to score a first inning run. Holloway, already warm from her save, got the start in game two. The Cards opened the game by going down in order, but not before giving the GT pitcher some work. Despite just three batters coming to the plate, Louisville forced Blake Neleman to throw 19 first inning pitches. Those 19 ultimately wouldn't make too much difference for Neleman, as she would go on to throw 145 total as she pitched a complete 11-inning game.

Holloway walked the first batter for GT, who would end up being the only baserunner of the inning. Fortunately for GT, they didn't need other baserunners to score her. Louisville was unable to successfully "strike 'em out, throw 'em out" on the next batter as Roper stole second. Roper used her speed to impressively advance to third on a groundout to the left side, and came home on a two-out passed ball. A groundout ended the inning with the Techsters ahead 1-0.

Both pitchers continued their impressive game, each allowing only a couple of base runners as the innings wore on. In the fourth, Louisville took advantage of the fact that one of those baserunners was Celene Funke. Funke opened the inning with a triple, but was very nearly stranded. Fortunately, a pair of popups were split by a groundout, which was productive enough to send the speedy center fielder home. Louisville tied it at one.

I would say neither team would threaten again until the seventh, but that would only be partially true. Louisville didn't threaten in the top half as much as they just acted. Roby led off the inning with a home run to give the Cards a 2-1 lead, but the rest of the order couldn't manage more than a single to end the inning. Still, it was enough to give the Cards a late chance to win.

Unfortunately, Georgia Tech had some more seventh inning luck in store. The Jackets opened with a single, and the next batter hit the ball right back to Holloway. Her throw was errant, allowing runners to stand on first and third with nobody out. Jenn Leonhardt came on to pitch. Another passed ball scored the tying run and put the winning run on second base before Leonhardt picked up three straight outs to end the inning. Free softball time. 

Neleman continued her dominance in the circle, holding Louisville to no more than one baserunner per inning. Two of those were Taylor Roby, both on walks, as the Yellow Jackets did not want to pitch to her anymore. To her credit, Leonhardt was able to match Neleman's effort for a few innings. Unfortunately, the eleventh inning put an end to that. Roper reached on an error to open the inning, but that baserunner wouldn't matter as Stanford fouled off a pair of two-strike pitches before sending the next one over the left field fence. Walk-off winner.

Louisville and Georgia Tech are scheduled to continue the weekend series tonight at 7PM, a first pitch time that was just announced this morning. Tonight's game will be carried on the ACCNX. Louisville would really like to pick up a couple of more wins in this series before the schedule gets tough again over the next couple of weeks.

Cardinal Couple Radio Hour

We're back again this week with plenty to discuss as always. The condensed seasons have kept us busy this winter and spring, and that hasn't ended just because basketball season wrapped up. We'll talk field hockey, lacrosse, and softball, while also touching on news from basketball and the NCAA Volleyball Tournament draw. We might even have another rant about NCAA inequities as the organization couldn't make it a month without stepping in it once more. Tune in to the Cardinal Couple YouTube Channel at 11AM for the live show, or check out the rebroadcast or podcast following the show's ending.

Until next time, Go Cards!

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