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Saturday, April 20, 2024

Softball Takes Opener at UNC -- SATURDAY CARDINAL COUPLE

Cards Win Solo Shot Battle 2-1

Louisville entered yesterday's game in a bit of a must win situation. The Cards need to pick up some series victories over the last few weeks of the schedule to be in contention for an at-large bid to the NCAA tournament. Losing midweek games to teams like EKU doesn't help, but a Friday win over UNC will hopefully get them back on track. The Cards got things started in the first and Alyssa Zabala held on to pick up her 18th win of the year, which leads the league. 

After two quick outs for the Cards in the top of the first, Riley Frizell sent a ball over the wall in straightaway right to give Louisville a 1-0 lead. That may have shaken the UNC starter a tad, as Bailey Richardson and Vanessa Miller both drew walks to follow. A ground out ended the threat, but Frizell's homer turned out to almost be enough in this one. 

Zabala got back-to-back ground outs to start the second, but a single ended her perfect game effort quickly. A foul out at the plate ended the inning. After a ground out to open the top of the second, Maddi Grant followed Frizell with a bomb to right center. That put Louisville up 2-0, which is how the game would stay until the final out. 

The Cards had plenty of chances to extend their lead, and had things gone differently, they'd be kicking themselves for the wasted opportunities. The Cards left at least one runner on in all but two innings. Their biggest chance for more runs came in the fourth, when a ground out left the bases loaded. Coincidentally, UNC's best chance at small ball runs also came in the fourth. A four-pitch walk opened the side, but a fielder's choice and a popup gave UNC two outs with still just the runner on first. Another walk put two on base, but a ground out ended the threat. 

After a ground out and a fly out put Zabala one out away from a complete game shutout, her 1-0 pitch was knocked over the fence in left, putting the tying run at the plate. The at-bat opened with a called strike, and the batter fouled away the next pitch. Down to her last strike, UNC's freshman catcher Raeghan Carlson spoiled four more strikeout pitches with foul offs and drew one ball. Ultimately, Zabala was able to induce a ground out to end the game. Zabala's final line was 2 hits and 1 run (earned) with three walks and two strikeouts. She threw 110 pitches in the complete game. 

Her counterpart, Kenna Raye Dark, also threw a complete game, and somehow managed to do it on fewer pitches. Dark threw 105 en route to 6 hits, 2 runs (both earned), three walks, and two strikeouts. Eerily similar lines for the sophomores. Maddi Grant was the only Cardinal to pick up multiple of those six hits, finishing with a pair. Vanessa Miller drew two walks. 

Louisville will look for a bit more offense today, as they'll wrap the series with a double-header due to forecasted bad weather on Sunday. The first game will get started at 2PM and will air on ACC Network Extra. The second game is scheduled for 4:30, but will start 20-30 minutes after the conclusion of the first if it runs long. 

Cardinal Couple Radio Hour Podcast

Happy Thunder Day, Cardinal Fans. While the more virtual nature of the show means that we aren't obligated to cancel the show due to inability to access our studio, a few conflicts will mean there's a small cast on hand. Paulie, Jeff, and Jared will bring you the news and notes of the week, looking at softball's ups-and-downs, the upset bid that wasn't for lacrosse, and big WBB commitments and signings. We'll see if Jeff has streaming sorted out, but if he does, 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!


1 comment:

  1. Maybe the most historic collapse of the season, UofL up 6-0, going to the bottom of the sevenht, North Carolina scores seven runs for the win, scoring when two Cardinals run in to each other chasing a routine fly ball.

    Color me unimpressed. This team has no killer instinct.

    Blue Lou


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