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Saturday, April 29, 2023

Cards Thump BC to Open Weekend -- SATURDAY CARDINAL COUPLE

Homers and Small Ball Lift Cards to Run Rule

In the opening game of Louisville's home finale weekend, the Cards gave fans something to be excited about as they send off their seniors. Despite an early run by Boston College and a slow start offensively for Louisville, the Cards used a big fifth inning to take control of the game and earned a walk-off run rule an inning later. When all was said and done, Louisville had earned their seventh straight win with a 10-2 victory.

BC opened the scoring in the top of the first when the first five batters were able to put the bat on the ball against Alyssa Zabala. The first two both singled, and the next three grounded out. Unfortunately, those ground outs were productive, moving the runners in both of the first two instances to bring around the leadoff hitter to score. Zabala stranded the runner at third and turned the ball over to her counterpart in the circle. Louisville was also seeing the ball well early. A hard liner by Korbe Otis was caught at short, but Easton Lotus reached base on a walk. After Taylor Roby fouled out, Sarah Gordon also walked. Daisy Hess broke the trend of odd-positioned players in the order getting out and sent a double to right to score Lotus. The Cards left two in scoring position, but they tied the game 1-1.

Zabala settled in a bit, finally getting an out that didn't depend on the defense with a strikeout for the second out of the second inning. A single opened the inning, but the strikeout split a pair of groundouts for no damage. Vanessa Miller opened the bottom half of the inning with a four-pitch walk and Paige Geraghty singled two batters later to put a pair on. A wild pitch to Otis put two runners in scoring position, but she would ultimately strike out. Lotus grounded out to end the inning and leave both runners on.

The ground balls continued for Zabala until they didn't. After two more ground outs opened the third, a BC batter finally got under the ball instead of on top of it. Hannah Slike, the three-spot hitter for the Eagles, got ahold of a 1-0 pitch to send a home run over the left field wall. It was her seventh home run of the season, leading the team. A pop-out ended the top half with BC back on top by a run, 2-1. Their lead didn't last long. Taylor Roby opened the bottom half of the third with a solo shot of her own to level the game back at 2. Like Slike, Roby is Louisville's leader in home runs. Unlike Slike, Roby is also the NCAA leader in home runs. The third inning blast was her 20th of the year. The homer rattled the BC pitcher a bit, as Louisville followed it up with a walk and two singles. The second, by Hannah File, scored Gordon from second to give Louisville its first lead. Louisville went on to load the bases with one out after a strikeout, a steal, and an intentional walk. Unfortunately, a liner straight to third ended the inning when the third baseman caught it and stepped on the bag for the double-play. Louisville led 3-2. They would not yield that lead.

The fourth was relatively uneventful, with both teams getting a runner on base without the benefit of a hit. BC got a hit by pitch to split two strikeouts and Roby was pitched around to earn a walk for Louisville. BC threatened a bit in the fifth, with a single and a walk putting two runners on. Slike was unable to capitalize, though, and she grounded into a double play. 

The Cards then went to work. Daisy Hess earned a nine-pitch walk to open the inning. Needing many fewer pitches than that, Hannah File sent her tenth homer of the year over the wall on the second pitch of her at-bat to score two. Maddi Grant pinch hit for Miller, but her time in the game was short lived after she walked and Miller immediately replaced her back on the base paths. Ally Alexander bunted Miller over, and Makayla Hurst also earned a pinch hit walk, this time for Geraghty. Just like Grant, Hurst was replaced at first right away. Korbe Otis stepped up with runners on first and second and singled to center. The hit was deep enough for Miller to score, and the ensuing throw by the center fielder was off-line. Geraghty scored on the throw and Otis advanced to second. Easton Lotus hit a full-count triple to right to score Otis, and the success of batters ahead gave Roby big eyes. She was first pitch swinging for the fences but was rewarded with just a pop out. Gordon knocked a two-out double to score Lotus and the Cards officially batted around in the inning. They'd go no farther than Hess, though, as she flew out to center to end the inning. With a two-run home run and three more RBI hits, Louisville left the inning leading 9-2. One more would have ended the game, but the teams played on.

Sam Booe entered for Zabala in the top of the sixth and made short work of the Eagles. Despite needing 11 pitches to force a foul out from the leadoff batter, Booe got a one-pitch ground out and a three-pitch foul out to end the inning 1-2-3. File opened the bottom half for Louisville with a single. She was obviously in pain at first, with a nagging injury suffered at Virginia coming back to haunt her late in this one, and asked to be removed. Elana Ornelas was brought on to pinch run, and she advanced to second after Miller was hit by a pitch. Ally Alexander swatted a full-count single into left field and Ornelas came around for the walk-off run. Final score: 10-2.

Ornelas's entry in the sixth meant every senior being honored this weekend appeared in this one with the exception of Taja Felder. It's a little surprising to see her not get a nod in the circle with Louisville so far ahead, but we will see what the rest of the weekend brings. Hurst earned the pinch hit walk, and Roby and File both homered. While Roby's day was a bit light, the solo home run being joined only by a walk, File had a big afternoon. Her home run was part of a 3-4 day with three RBIs. Hopefully she's able to return to the field without pain from that leg injury.

Sarah Gordon isn't a senior, but she also found herself being honored this week. Gordon was named to the Top-25 List for the National Freshman of the Year award. Two more cut downs will happen with a Top Ten announced on May 11th and three finalists named on May 25th. The winner will be announced on May 30th in Oklahoma City ahead of the WCWS. Gordon joins Megan Hensley and Maryssa Becker as players to have been named to the list. No Cardinal has won the award. Gordon is second on the team in batting average with a .404 (Otis: .411) and RBI with 42 (Roby: 51). She's also tied for third with Otis in home runs with eight, trailing Roby's 20 and File's 10. She's one of four Cardinals with an OPS over 1.000, sitting at third with a 1.122. Joining her are Roby (1.357), Otis (1.205), and File (1.094). She has started all 47 games as a freshman.

Leading up to this series, I talked quite a bit about how these were must win games. Louisville didn't start it out very convincingly, but they ultimately picked up their seventh straight win and their tenth run-rule victory of the year. They've edged ahead of Duke into 3rd in the ACC on winning percentage. One more win would put the Cards out of reach of Virginia Tech or UNC for fourth in the conference, which would be a great result for Louisville. I think it's fair to say our expectations remain higher, though. That said, assuming Duke wins their last two against Pitt, Louisville would need to complete the sweep this weekend and sweep the Seminoles in Tallahassee next weekend to finish third in the league. Such a performance would give them a chance to win the ACC, which would be quite the coup. I'll settle for completing the sweep this weekend and letting the chips fall where they may next weekend.

The series against Boston College continues today at 2PM. The game will be on ACC Network proper. Let's hope the weather cooperates for the teams, with some light rain in the forecast.

Cardinal Couple Radio Hour Podcast

After taking last week off, we're back with a show this weekend. There will be four of us on as we recap the last couple of weeks for Louisville spring sports. Despite some interesting sound bites of late, we'll stay on brand and bring you the joy and excitement of UofL women's athletics. 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!


Photos by Jared Anderson


  1. Come on folks. Re:HVL. You sound like Syracuse fans when Emily transferred here. She got $500k NIL. And she gets to play point guard. Jeff wanted here at off guard. Good luck Haley. Go Cards.

  2. Hailey isn't a point guard. You LSU fans will find that out pretty quickly.

  3. The hitting was there today but why have Felder replaced a really good hitter with the bases loaded? She's no Roby at the plate.


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