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Saturday, February 19, 2022

Softball and Lacrosse Sweep the Day -- SATURDAY CARDINAL COUPLE

Softball Takes Two Wins

After coming up short against Ohio State last week, Louisville softball got back on track yesterday was they opened the T-Mobile Tournament with a pair of victories. The Cards took down Villanova and Florida A&M in a combined 14 innings, but the nature of the games was quite different. While it took just five innings to put away FAMU, the game with Villanova took nine and both teams threatened before the Cards took the win. 

Louisville got the game with Nova started much like last week: hot out of the gate. Easton Lotus singled and Carmyn Greenwood immediately sent one over the left field fence to give the Cards a 2-0 lead. They got a walk out of Kendall Smith but nothing else in the inning. Taylor Roby took over in the circle and gave up a single but nothing else. After a 1-2-3 inning for Louisville, a Nova player reached on an error to open the bottom of the second and later stole second, but was stranded there. 

The third saw the top of the order back up, but Lotus and Greenwood were sat down quickly. Up with two outs instead of none this time, Roby sent a solo shot to left center to pad her lead. She followed up the homer with quick work in the circle, getting a strikeout and two fly outs to send the Wildcats down in order. The fourth saw a return to Louisville small ball, as a double was followed by a single and a productive groundout to put the Cards up 4-0.

Here's where I'll tell you Taylor Roby struck out three in the bottom half of the fourth. Here's where I'll also tell you that those three were certainly not in order. Nova saw Louisville play small ball and decided they could as well. They used three singles, a walk, and a bases-loaded hit-by-pitch to cut Louisville's lead to two. Fortunately, Roby was able to get out of more impending danger with a strikeout to end the inning with the bases loaded. She then made up for the lack of closeout in the bottom half of the previous inning by watching Greenwood bunt for a single and steal second, then sending a shot to right field to get the two runs back.

Nova got another run via small ball in the bottom of the fifth, and Louisville was unable to answer with a two-on, two-out fielder's choice ending their rally in the sixth. The Wildcats then opened the bottom half with a solo homer, which ended Taylor Roby's day. Gabby Holloway replaced her and got three straight groundouts to head to the final scheduled inning with a two run lead. Carmyn Greenwood flew out before Villanova decided they would no longer pitch to Roby as they intentionally walked her. The Cards got nothing out of it and headed to the final frame still up 6-4.

Things got weird in the bottom half. Nova opened the bottom half with a walk, and then a grounder to Holloway turned into an error as she was unable to get the lead runner at second. Another walk loaded the bases, but Holly Aprile stuck with Holloway in the circle. With the bases loaded, nobody out, and a two-run lead, it was time for Gabby to lock it down. She induced a grounder to short, but a throwing error not only failed to get one-out, it allowed a second run to reach home and tie the game. A grounder to third followed the tying, but the runners advanced to second and third on the throw. With one out and runners on second and third in a tie game, there was really only one choice to be made. The next batter was intentionally walked to load the bases and set up a force at any base. When teams do this while holding a lead, it makes me uncomfortable. In the final frame of a tie game, there's no reason not to. In the worst case, you walk the next batter and give up the game-winning run the easy way. In the best case, you get an easy grounder and pick up a double-play. Louisville picked up a double-play, but not the easy way. A fly to right gave Louisville the second out and a runner booking it 60-feet toward home. Korbe Otis was having none of that, though, and she put the ball right on the money at the plate to tag out the runner and send it to extras.

The top of the 8th saw a runner starting on second, per the trendy new tiebreaker rules, and Louisville took advantage. They used a sac bunt and a sac fly to take the 7-6 lead. Nothing else came of it, though, and they headed to the bottom half with a narrower lead than the last time. A wild pitch moved Nova's runner to third, but a groundout to the shortstop froze her there. She wasn't frozen for long, as a double tied the game and put Louisville squarely in danger of a walk-off. Chardonnay Harris came in to pitch for Holloway and promptly moved the winning run to third with a wild pitch of her own. She buckled down after that, stranding the runner with a pair of strikeouts.

In the 9th, Louisville also saw their runner advance to third on a wild pitch. Unable to score on a flyout by Lotus, Carmyn Greenwood left no doubt as she sent her second homer to left to give the Cards a 9-7 lead. Nova pitched to Roby again for some reason, but she let them off the hook with a flyout. Just as the Wildcats thought they could catch their breath, though, Kendall Smith got in on the moonshot fun with a solo homer to go up 10-7. Harris started the bottom half with a strikeout before a single put runners on first and third. She then induced an infield pop-up to get the second out and followed it with a wild pitch to move the runner to second. How the runner at third didn't come home, I'm not sure. Perhaps it was a hard stop sign with two-outs and the reward of one run not being worth the risk, or maybe Louisville just played it well. Either way, a swinging strikeout ended the game.

After a hard fought win, Louisville decided scoring ten runs was pretty cool. They also decided they'd prefer to do it in less than half the time. Easton Lotus opened the game with a single and stole second to put the Cards in scoring position right out of the gate. Carmyn Greenwood flew out to center, but Lotus tagged and headed for third. She was officially credited with reaching on an error, but with her speed, it probably would have been close. It was a moot point as two walks loading the bases were sandwiched by a pair of strikeouts to end the inning.

Harris started the game for Louisville, already warm from the previous work. She used that edge to strikeout the side in order. There would be no funny business this time around. The Cards opened the second with two quick outs but a double by Ally Alexander was followed by Lotus single and some questionable defense by FAMU. Alexander scored and Lotus advanced to third on the throwing error, but a Greenwood strikeout ended the threat. Harris gave up a walk and an error put another runner on in the second but nothing came of them with a strikeout, popup, and grounder back to the pitcher making for fairly light defensive work.

The third saw six batters and six outs, and Louisville's offense finally decided to show back up in the fourth. Korbe Otis opened the inning with a bunt single but left the bag early and was called out. A walk and a single put runners on first and second and a wild pitch moved them both up. A single scored one and the throw home gave Alexander second base. Lotus singled to score Servi and used a pickle between first and second to give Alexander the opportunity to scoot home as well. The Cards happily traded the out for the run and held a 4-0 lead. Carmyn Greenwood doubled, but a Roby strikeout ended the inning. 

FAMU started the bottom half with a single of their own but the next three batters were sent back to the dugout. The Cards opened the fifth inning with a double and a triple scored the runner. Otis learned from Lotus and used a pickle on an error to score the runner from third. A single, unsuccessful fielder's choice, and walk loaded the bases while a flyout gave Greenwood a two-out, bases-loaded look. Having Carmyn Greenwood ahead of Taylor Roby has been awesome so far this season, as teams are forced to pitch to her or face her speed on base with Roby at the plate. Anyway, that was relevant this time as FAMU went after Greenwood to try to end the inning and she returned the favor by sending a grand slam out of the yard. Roby grounded out, but the Cards held a 10-0 lead.

With a win opportunity in hand, Aprile sent in Sam Booe to close the game for Harris. She got off to a quick start with a ground out and a strikeout, before her control slipped momentarily. A walk was followed by a wild pitch and another walk, giving FAMU runners on first and second with two outs. Booe buckled down and closed up shop with a groundout to third to end the game. 

Louisville will have a much tougher day ahead today, with the hosting Florida Gators and the defending ACC Champion Duke Blue Devils on the schedule. Florida is currently ranked 4th in the nation and Duke comes in at 14th. The Cards will have their work cut out for them but a win against either could really boost their season. First pitch against Florida is scheduled for 2PM and the non-conference game against Duke should get underway at 7PM.

Lacrosse Gets First Win with Romp of Marquette

After a tough weekend in Colorado last week, Louisville opened their home season by bringing in Marquette for what has become an annual matchup. The Golden Eagles brought the cold with them, as Friday was much chillier than the rest of the week. It made no difference to the Cards, as they took an early lead and never trailed on their way to an 18-9 win to move them to 1-2 on the young season.

Louisville's first goal came off the stick of Tiffany Natoli just over one minute into the game, and their second was courtesy of Maddi McKee less than a minute later. After Marquette scored their first, Louisville used a 4-0 run to stretch their legs and it looked like this one might be over quickly. Before the first quarter ended, though, Marquette had clawed back three of the goals, and they opened the second quarter with a fourth, bringing the deficit back down to just one. 

Undeterred, Louisville closed the half on a 6-1 run, heading into the locker room with a 12-6 lead. They emerged just as energized as they entered, taking five minutes before scoring their first goal of the second half, but going ahead and scoring three straight to go up 15-6. Marquette finally broke the Louisville run with a single goal, but the Cards tacked two more on in the third quarter to lead 17-7. The fourth quarter was mostly formality at that point, though Louisville closed their scoring just two minutes into it. Their 18th goal capped an overall 12-2 run over 27ish minutes following Marquette's four goal run. The Eagles scored two more in the fourth quarter to reach the final 18-9 mark, but Louisville was happy to get the big win.

The Cards were led offensively by Hannah Morris, which is something we're likely to say a lot this season. She put up four goals and an assist, giving her 10 goals and an assist through three games. She has put 14 of her 17 shots on frame, and leads the team in points by two. Nicole Perroni is hot on her heels with nine goals, and they entered yesterday's game tied at seven apiece. Kokoro Nakazawa was second on the team with three goals, setting a new career high for the sophomore. Juliana Pleck started this one and continues to get the lion's share of the minutes in the net. She gave up seven goals and nine saves while Sara Addache had two and one in her limited minutes.

Louisville is back in action tomorrow when they host Central Michigan at 11AM. The game will be on ACC Network Extra and will be played at Louisville Lacrosse Stadium.

Cardinal Couple Radio Hour Podcast

We finally got back on track with the show last week as we had a full house. We're down a participant this week but we've got four on the line to cover the week that was. There's been plenty to talk about this week, and we'll have it all covered for you. As always, you can check out the live stream of the show by going to the Cardinal Couple YouTube page and clicking on the live video. Jeff usually creates that about an hour before the show, which officially starts at 11 AM Eastern. If the live time doesn't work for you, there are plenty of playback options, so be sure to check out whichever is best for you!

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Until next time, Go Cards!

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