Softball Finds its Offense
In a weekend that has been somewhat lacking in joy and excitement for UofL Athletics, Softball came through clutch yesterday.
The story goeth thusly:
Act 1 - Western Michigan
Western Michigan effectively camped out in Louisville after playing at Bellarmine last weekend...and for the city of Louisville interest, they split their games against the Knights...and after splitting a pair of games against Hofstra on Friday, they ran into a Louisville team that really wasn't happy to lose both of their matchups on Friday. The Cards blanked the Broncos 8-0 after six innings, and they got things started quickly.
The second batter of the game for UofL, veteran Carmyn Greenwood, ripped the second pitch she saw out to left center to establish the tone. Taylor Roby reached on after striking out swinging, but reached first on the wild pitch, and I suspect after just three batters, Western Michigan already felt snakebit. Kendall Smith hit her first pitch to center field for a single, moving Roby to 2nd. Korbe Otis decided to one up, well actually two up, Greenwood with a 3-run homer, also to left center.
Some of the same characters struck again in the 2nd inning. Greenwood drew a walk and scored on Roby's double.
After a quiet third inning, wouldn't you know it, Greenwood comes up to bat again. A pair of doubles from the Greenwood/Roby tandem got Greenwood around. K. Smith got to 1st on a fielder's choice that got Roby...well, we'll just say she's not the fastest player on the team...out at 3rd. Carmyn's sister Cassady came in to pinch run for Smith, and with a triple by Otis, Cas Greenwood easily made it home. Bringing the tally to seven.
A quiet 5th inning passed, and wouldn't you know it, the lead off batter of the 6th inning for the Cards was Carmyn Greenwood again. Nothing too fancy this time, a single on a bunt, got her on base. A steal for 2nd, and a Kendall Smith single got her to 3rd. She was able to scamper home on a...I guess you could call it a walk-off wild pitch? Or a walk-off steal home? I'm not sure, but it got the Louisville lead to eight in the 6th inning, which is enough to invoke the run-rule and end the game.
Act 2 - Illinois
Louisville was still looking for revenge for Friday's games, and would get their first chance at direct retribution. As evening progressed and darkness fell, showing off the spiffy LED lights at Ulmer (seriously, they're pretty cool!), high drama was afoot.
If you hearken back to Case's article yesterday, Illinois run-ruled UofL 8-0 after five innings. So the stage was set and the curtains drawn. The dramatic stakes had been established.
The scoring got underway by Illinois in the 2nd inning with a three run homer, and our heroes were immediately in peril. The dastardly villains would tack on another before the scene concluded.
Ally Alexander was up first for the Cards. A single and a good start. Vanessa Miller reached on a pitching error with alliterative Alexander advancing to 2nd. Maddi Grant walked, filling the bases. Jenna Servi was due up, but we had a last minute cast replacement. Rebecca Chung played the role, and stole the scene. A nice single to left center, Alexander scored, Miller scored, Grant moved on to 3rd, and Chung during the ensuing throws was able to advance to 2nd. Having played her part admirably, Chung took her bow and the considerably quicker Servi re-entered to run. Easton Lotus drew a walk, for another sold out house on the base paths.
And now the stars of the first act enter the scene. Carmyn Greenwood reached on a fielder's choice, but alas and alack, the Illini were able to stop the score with the force out at home. But you remember that Roby follows Greenwood in the line-up. She enters, stage right, and singles to center field. Greenwood was put out at second, but Servi and Lotus finished their circuits, bringing the Cards back into a 4-4 tie with Illinois.
A quiet third inning from both squads and the Cards were down at the bottom of the line-up. Servi has to bat, or her day is done having re-entered once already. Between her quickness and an error at short, she reaches. Lotus sacrifices to advance her to 2nd. Carmyn Greenwood singled up the middle, scoring Servi from 2nd and giving UofL the first lead of the game at 4-5. Roby singled, advancing Greenwood to 2nd. Greenwood then steals 3rd on a wild pitch, but Roby didn't tempt fate by trying the same from 1st to 2nd. Kendall Smith singled out to left center, and Greenwood gets home relatively easily, and after four innings, the heroes looked like they were going to do it.
But the show isn't over, yet. The Illini twirled their figurative mustaches in the top of the 5th inning, and put up four runs, coming back to tie, and then pass the Cards, putting the score at 8-6.
Would the Cards come back? They would certainly try. A Roby walk...she gets a lot of walks...with power like hers, I wouldn't want to pitch to her either. A Smith single, and then an Otis single filled up the bases. The rally faltered, though, our heroes weren't out of danger quiet yet!
Illinois got a couple of runners on base in the top of the 7th, but UofL was able to stop them.
And then, the final scene, the great climactic finish, Illinois leads 8-7, UofL has three outs to at least get one across to extend the game. Someone alert the SportsCenter Top 10 crew. Everyone was on the edge of their seats. Jenna Servi comes to the plate, and doubles. Lotus comes up to bat and gets out, but Servi advanced, the air is thick with anticipation. Greenwood strikes out, two down, the tension increases. "Nope" says the Illinois pitcher, she wanted nothing to do with Roby, and put her on 1st. She'll pitch to Smith, but she draws a walk. It's now two outs, bottom of the 7th, bases are loaded, and the Cards still need one to tie it up. Otis singles to left field, and everyone advances, and Servi crosses the plate to tie the game 8-8. Joy and excitement right there, but wait, the game isn't over, yet! Ally Alexander, remember her from the first part of the act? Comes to the plate and rips the ball to left field. The "Grand Slam" graphic gets put up on the screen as players advance around the basepaths. The SportsCenter Top 10 crew are ready to go. But wait! It wasn't a walk off grand slam with two outs in the bottom of the 7th. The ball hit off the top of the fence and fell in play. It was a single, but Roby scored and secured the win all the same!
OK, maybe the playwrite could use some help, but it was a thrilling win just the same, and those LED lights, yeah, you know they did their light show.
So the Cards get a pair of wins on the day, including one over, not a Top 25 team, but one that is knocking on the door receiving votes. It's a good win, and brought UofL Athletics some needed joy and excitement.
The Cards will be back in action today at 12:30 for now) looking for another act of redemption from Friday's losses, Hofstra the foe. Available on ACC Network Extra, it should be a good one! Rain could change that start time.
Lacrosse Comes Up Short
Lacrosse found some offense as well. And let's be clear that the odds were pretty long in this match up with the defending national champs, and number one ranked team in the country coming in to the Louisville Lacrosse Stadium.
No coach is ever happy with a moral victory, but if there ever was one, this is it.
It was a beautiful day for Lacrosse by all accounts, and the Louisville fan base showed up for it. The report from our man on the scene...on all of the scenes this weekend, it seemed...was that the stands were so full that people were sitting on the turf in front of the stands.
Boston College scored first, but Hannah Morris was on a mission and scored back to back to give the Cards the lead. It would be the last lead that Louisville would see. Morris continued on a rampage, eventually scoring five in the game, and Louisville would put up a good showing against the Eagles, but the Chestnut Hill folks were just too much, and would eventually go on to win 19-10.
It's a respectable showing for the Cards against what's generally considered the best team in the country right now. Head's high, tomorrow is another day. And even more importantly, Wednesday is another day, and the Cards will be in Cincinnati to play the Bearcats. It'll be a 4pm start, and if you want to watch it, well, ESPN+ it is.
SOFTBALL AND LACROSSE PHOTOS BY JARED ANDERSON
Cardinal Coupe ACC Tournament Pick EM
One game to go in the ACC WBB Tournament. Surprising Miami is in the championship game, facing NC State today at noon on ESPN.
In our bracket challenge, we have four contestants at 10-3 (Katy, Thomas, Louavulfan 35 and Kstarksr.
Katy is the only won who had NC State winning it all, so if the Wolfpack accomplishes that, she win the challenge. Second place comes down to the point-total tie-breaker.
Should Miami pull off another upset, then we have a four way tie for first and second and the tie-breaker will come into play again.
Only four contestants had NCST winning the championship. Blue Lou, Katy, Jared Anderson and Nick O.
Good luck to all still alive as we go to the final game !!
Cardinal Couple Radio Hour Podcast
A busy day drew down the CCRHP crew to just two. Paulie and I kicked it old school. In what had been a start to the weekend that was still looking for some joy and excitement, we tried to find as much as we could when discussing Basketball, Softball, and Lacrosse.
You can check it out at it's Youtube home: