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Saturday, April 15, 2023

Softball Slides Past Miami (OH) -- SATURDAY CARDINAL COUPLE

Cards Earn Walk-Off Run Rule

On a beautiful spring evening that threatened to turn ugly but ultimately turned out rosy, Louisville softball played a game against Miami (OH) that oddly mirrored the weather. The Cards jumped out to a 6-0 lead early before a grand slam brought the Redhawks right back into it. Louisville would respond immediately and prevent further scoring to bring home the run rule. On the weather side, the game started in the mid-upper seventies and somewhat overcast. A lightning delay cleared the stadium just after the Miami grand slam, but it was all clear skies after the delay ended with the thunderstorms that were forecasted never fully developing. Louisville managed to coast to a 12-4 win.

Taylor Roby got the start last night, which seems to fully solidify the idea that Alyssa Zabala has taken the ace spot in the rotation as the implication is that she was held out for today against Oklahoma. Roby gave up a single and a walk in the first, but the defense behind her was strong, and the Cards stranded a pair of runners. In the bottom half, we saw a change in the batting order for the first time in quite awhile. While Korbe Otis stayed in the leadoff spot, Easton Lotus moved up from sixth to second. Hannah File and Taylor Roby stayed in the 3 and 4 spots, but Holly Aprile moved Sarah Gordon from second to fifth to try to take more advantage of the consistent batting she has displayed. After a groundout by Otis, the next three batters reached base on an error, a four-pitch walk, and a two-strike single. Gordon came through immediately in her newfound position in the heart of the order, swatting a deep fly ball to left for a sacrifice fly. It was Louisville's first, but certainly not their last, unearned run of the game. They left runners on the corners and went to the second with a 1-0 lead.

A double kicked things off for Miami in the second, but Roby buckled down to get out of the jam. She induced a foul-out to third, then put the opposite corners of the outfield to work with a pair of flyouts. In the bottom half, Louisville started the opposite to Miami and struck out. This time, one out saw four straight batters reach base. Pickle Winkler started for just the eighth time and hit a full-count single in her first at-bat. Paige Geraghty and Korbe Otis also singled to load the bases. As if she hadn't been moved from the sixth spot, Lotus stepped up with the bases loaded ahead of her. She promptly cleared them, and showed the speed she impressed with last year, with a triple. Her speed came back into play immediately, when Hannah File grounded out straight at her. Rather than try a play at home, Miami just took the out at first. Louisville would score no more, but they led 5-0.

 After a foul out to open the third, Roby gave up a single and an 11-pitch walk. Outside of the four balls, the batter fouled the other seven pitches away. Both to save her arm and to work out of danger, Coach Holly Aprile made a pitching change, bringing in Gabby Holloway, who got a strike out and a ground out to end the threat. Sarah Gordon led off the bottom half with a walk, but without the usual big hitters behind her, she wasn't immediately brought around. She avoided becoming double-play fodder on a ground out to third but still stood at second after Ally Alexander struck out for the second time. Winkler stepped up and decided to go for it with a first-pitch double to score a run. Geraghty popped out, but Louisville's lead had been extended to six.

The fourth inning was less than ideal. A single opened the inning, and a sacrifice bunt moved the runner to second. A single put runners on the corners and a pop out gave Louisville two outs to work with. A walk loaded the bases, though, and that set up the aforementioned grand slam. A line out ended the inning but Louisville's once formidable lead was now just 6-4. Thus began the lightning delay. Since Louisville led, four "equivalent" innings had been completed. However, five are required for a game to be official. So, the two teams waited it out.

After an hour and four minutes (30 minutes from the last identified lightning), the two teams retook the field. Miami made a pitching change with their hopes back up, but Louisville quickly dashed them with the top of the order. An error and a bunt single saw Otis and Lotus standing at second and first, which is not comfortable for any defense. File struck out, but Roby walked to load the bases. Aprile put Vanessa Miller on first as a pinch runner, but Sarah Gordon looked over at the dugout and laughed. Aprile had saved Roby a 180-foot trot, as Gordon launched a grand slam home run of her own to left center. Otis scored Louisville's second unearned run. Daisy Hess followed up the home run with a double, and Makayla Hurst advanced her to third with a pinch-hit ground out. Pickle Winkler stepped up and knocked her third hit of the day to center to score Hess, unearned. After a first pitch single from Geraghty, Miami made another pitching change. Turner's final line was five hits, five runs, three earned, and a walk in just two-thirds of an inning, and she was on the hook for two more runners. A wild pitch put both runners in scoring position but Korbe Otis grounded right back to the pitcher on a 2-0 count to end the inning. 

Despite the long break, Aprile went back to Gabby Holloway in the top of the fifth. She got a strikeout to open the inning but moved a runner to third after a double and a wild pitch. A fly ball to right field seemed like it would be deep enough to score the run, but Winkler (on the high of her strong day at the plate) had a monster throw to hold the runner. A ground out ended the inning and kept Louisville's lead at 11-4. Easton Lotus, enjoying her spot near the top of the order, singled to third and advanced to second on a throwing error. She then moved up to third on a wild pitch but couldn't come home on a ground out to second. No matter, really, as Louisville walked it off on an Easton Lotus steal of home on yet another wild pitch. Laurelai DePew threw 11 pitches. Three of those were wild. Since she had advanced on what were technically three errors, Lotus's run was unearned, Louisville's fourth of the night. Since it put them up by eight runs after five equivalent innings, that was the ball game.

Despite never giving up a run and never seeing her lead yielded, Taylor Roby didn't get the win in this one as she didn't pitch enough innings. She wasn't the most effective we've seen her, as she gave up three hits and two walks in two and one-third innings. With no strikeouts, it's a bit of a head scratcher, but she didn't give up any runs either, so you can't be too mad at the effort. Holloway's final line was two and two-thirds with four runs, all earned, on four hits and a walk. She had two strikeouts and earned the win. The grand slam right before a lightning delay was tough luck, but she was bailed out by Louisville's strong offensive showing.

Easton Lotus and Madison "Pickle" Winkler had career days at the plate. Lotus scored four runs in four at bats after moving up to the two spot and also had three hits with three RBI (though they all came on one hit). Winkler, in the start, had three hits in three attempts with a run scored and two RBI. Sarah Gordon moved to a spot in the order where more baserunners could consistently be on ahead of her and she had five RBI and two runs scored in one official at bat (one walk and one sacrifice).

Louisville will need to carry the good vibes with them as they travel to Oxford, Ohio in the odd shared invitational setup. The Cards will get the honor of taking on the consensus #1 Oklahoma Sooners today at 4PM. The game will be carried on ACC Network Extra. Yes. It's a game at a non-ACC school against a non-ACC opponent that is not the host school, but Louisville will play as the home team and it will be on ACC Network Extra. Don't ask me; I don't make the rules. At any rate, while the best-case scenario for Louisville would be a shocking win, I think the more realistic goal is to not let a bad result today snowball into poor future performances. We've discussed Louisville's precarious tournament hopes, and, while a run-rule loss to Oklahoma today probably wouldn't impact them much, allowing such a loss to bleed into a bad performance in tomorrow's double-header against Oakland would be disastrous. Hopefully we see some surprises today and Louisville can put themselves in a competitive situation.

Other Events on Deck

In addition to softball's game today, several other teams are in action. Track and field continue their split weekend in Florida and at home. Swimming participates in the TYR Pro Series, and women's golf is at the ACC Championships. From the fall sports in spring play perspective, Louisville women's soccer and volleyball are both back at home this weekend. Soccer hosts Michigan State with time still listed TBA, and volleyball brings in Tennessee at 6PM. Louisville lacrosse will also play host, as they take on Duke at 1PM at Louisville Lacrosse Stadium.

Cardinal Couple Radio Hour Podcast

I'm out this week as a wonky work trip plays havoc with my schedule. It's been quiet in the Cardinal Couple group chat so I can't give you everyone else's status, but rest assured that the show will go on. 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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