Tag Archives: softball

Photo by Austin Lassell

Softball goes 2-1 in weekend series versus Rutgers

By Dalton Ray

The Louisville Cardinals softball team took on the Rutgers Scarlet Knights in a three-game series over the weekend in Ulmer Stadium. On a sunny but chilly weekend the Cardinals would prevail 2-1 in the series bringing their record to 18-11 and the visiting Knights would drop to 12-9. This was the first series in conference play for both schools.

In the first game, Louisville won by 10-6, the visitors would rack up five hits and five runs in the top of the first inning and put the Cards in a 5-0 hole before touching the plate. Junior Whitney Arion and company wouldn’t back down as they loaded the bases twice in the bottom of the inning and came away with two runs. After a pitching switch that put Caralisa Connell on the mound the scoring would come, as the Knights would only score one more run to finish the game.

“Our pitching really put us in a whole right off the bat and what I’m really proud of is how the team kept fighting back, that’s a real credit to them for digging in. We just kept wanting to play catch up today,” head coach Sandy Pearsall said.

The “digging in” began in the fourth inning when junior Kayla Soles sent her third homerun of the year over the left field fence and cut the lead to 6-3. After digging in the Cardinals would then explode in the fifth inning ripping off five hits and seven runs in the inning giving them a 10-6 lead heading into the sixth. Senior Katie Keller, freshman Maryssa Becker, junior Brittany Duncan, senior Hannah Kiyohara would all gets hits in the inning. After the Cards would score on a walked batter with loaded bases and then a wild pitch, Whitney Arion would cap off the inning in style with a three run homer.

By the time senior Rachel Le Coq would come into relief for Connell the former 25-game winner struck out four and played very well. Le Coq would use the help of her defense in her two innings; four groundouts and two strikeouts would close the game for the Cardinals.

The second game was won with the same score of 10-6 but Rutgers was victorious this time. It also began in a very similar fashion, as once again the Knights would score five runs in the top of the first. The only difference: the Cardinals couldn’t gather a response in the first three innings. Shayla Sweeney was pitching for the visiting Rutgers and she lead the Knights to a strong defensive effort in the second game. The Cardinals wish they could of said the same thing but minor slip ups in the in-field on liners and ground balls kept adding up for Cards as they kept giving the Knights chances.

Juniors Kayla Soles would hit her second homerun of the day along with an RBI, cutting the lead to 5-2 Rutgers in the fourth. In the fifth inning Rutgers’ Jackie Bates’ triple would drive home Chandler Howard for a 6-2 lead. At the bottom of the inning the Cardinals looked to take advantage of Arion’s RBI triple and base-on-balls Maryssa Becker standing on first, with runners on the corners and two outs Sweeney would strike out the last batter ending the threat. In the next inning the Scarlet Knights would take advantage of their given opportunities as they put together five hits and four runs, expanding their lead to 10-3.

In the final inning the Cardinals would not give up. After two doubles from Kiyohara and Kayla Jones, and Arion’s second homer of the day the score was 10-6. The visiting Knights would then wrap up the game with a ground out, strike out, and a fly out in center. The Knights stingy defense was too much for the Lady Cards, as they couldn’t get a ball past the infield for most of the game.

After starting at pitcher the first game freshman Maryssa Becker was moved to first base. In the second game she started out at first, moved to pitcher, then back to first. Caralisa Connell, Rachel Le Coq, Tiarra Sanabria, and Becker would all pitch for the Cards on Saturday. Becker has really showed her versatility over the course of the year.

“The pitchers definitely work as a staff, all four of us, we all have the same mentality of if when we get put in. We have to know when one of us is having an off day so that the person behind us can get the job done.”

Sunday’s series finale that ended up in a 11-3 rout between the schools stayed scoreless until the top of the third when Jackie Bates’ two-run single gave Rutgers a 2-0 lead. Katie Jones put in a ton of effort at the bottom of the inning as she had a single, stole second, advanced to third on an error and was then sent home by Arion giving the Cards their first run. Brittany Duncan would help give the Cards a 3-2 lead on her two-out double.

Becker got herself out of a jam in the bottom of the fourth as she struck out the last batter with the bases loaded as the game was tied 3-3 heading into the fifth. Arion, Jones, Keller, Becker, Ruckenbrod, Duncan, and McDuffee would all get hits in the last innings as the Cardinals would pull away in a strong way as they scored eight unanswered runs. McDuffee’s double finished off the game, as the Cards would cruise through the last innings. Now 18-11 overall and 2-1 in conference the softball team will be in action again against DePaul March 26th and 27th.

Preview: Cardinal softball

By Justin Stephenson

In U of L Athletics, there is a common pattern of up and down.  After winning the Sugar Bowl and being on the rise, we lost our football coach Charlie Strong. After winning the national championship, we lost our best rebounder, Chane Behanan.  And after posting a 47-13 record last season, the U of L softball team loses three of their top five sluggers in Katelyn Mann, Alicja Wolney and Jordan Trimble. Even in the wake of such important departures, these Cardinals refuse to be grounded; in fact they hope to soar into this season just as good as ever.

“We hope to capture the AAC crown this season, as well as win the conference tournament; I also think that making a deep run in the tournament, at least to the super regionals, is totally possible,” Head Coach Sandy Pearsall said.

But, as is often the case in sports, winning is a privilege, not a right. Dictating from the Cards’ strength of schedule, wins will be at a premium this season.

“We face a lot of stiff competition this season,” Pearsall said. “Just look at the first half of our season before conference play; we have number 18 Missouri and UNC on the road and then we have two huge home games facing two softball powerhouses, number four Michigan and Wisconsin. Not to mention number nine Kentucky, who has a phenomenal squad this season.”

So who will be the anchor in this avalanche of adversity; who will step up this season to guide this team along the winding and narrow road that defines this team’s success?

“I am looking for production particularly from Katie Keller as well as our shortstop Whitney Arion, I also see Maggie Ruckenbrod and Taner Fowler playing a huge part for us this season on the offensive side of the ball.”

And why wouldn’t they play a huge part? With the departure of last year’s seniors, Keller is the unquestioned statistical leader on offense. The three-time All Big East and two-time All-American leads the team in slugging percentage at a whopping .709. She also leads the team in home runs with 12, hits with 76 and runs with 62. She is also tied for the most doubles on the team with 18 and has the most walks with 32.

Next up on the mound is senior catcher and All Big East selection Maggie Ruckenbrod, whose 59 hits, .551 slugging percentage, 22 walks and 41 runs batted in is good for second on the team. Senior Catcher and two time All Big East selection Hannah Kiyohara paces the team in batting average, as she is right behind Keller hitting at a clip of .342. She is second in walks with 22 and third in total bases with 63.

Rounding out the top tier is junior shortstop Whitney Arion, who is arguably the Lady Cards’ most athletic player and undeniably their most clutch.

Her game winning RBI against Longwood, her game-winning three run home run against Pitt as well as her late-inning heroics against a tenacious Hofstra squad has her earning the respect of players and fans alike. Her 33 runs, 51 hits and 12 doubles are top three on the team. She also has the second most bases on the team with 86.

“On the defensive side of the ball, we have a solid front in Maggie Ruckenbrod and Whitney Arion, as well as a reliable stopper in Katie Keller,” Pearsall explained. “We also have four pitchers this year which is a luxury. Caralisa Connell and Rachel LeCoq definitely have the experience by far, but Tiarra Sanabria and Maryssa Becker will definitely have to step up and help us out with innings.”

Along with being a veritable offensive threat, Ruckenbrod doesn’t mind stepping up to make some stops. As indicated by her 340 chances, a team high, as well as her 290 putouts, which is also a team high. She also leads the team in fielding percentage at 98.8 percent. Another dynamo on defense is senior shortstop Katie Keller. Keller leads the team in assists with 114  and leads the team in double plays with 14.

The pitching staff is led by senior and All Big East selection Rachel LeCoq, who posted an astounding 2.12 earned run average last season, holding opponents to an even more incredulous 1.56 ERA during conference play. She also held the opposition to a grand total of three stolen base attempts last year, resulting in a team low .277 percent on stolen base attempts. She leads the team in shutouts with nine and in saves with three.

Coming out of the bullpen is senior and three-time All Big East selection Caralisa Connell, who leads the team in winning percentage at .833 and in strikeouts with 209. She also posted a team low for the season in doubles with 19 and triples with three.

With their one year in the AAC the softball team has their chance to leave their U of L mark on the American Conference, hopefully winning it in its inaugural season.

The Cards open up their newly-renovated Ulmer Stadium against Northern Kentucky on Friday, Feb. 21 at 2:00 pm.

Junior pitcher Caralisa Connell struck out 99 batters in her sophomore season and 155 in her freshman season.

Softball player Caralisa Connell earns Pitcher of the Week

Junior pitcher Caralisa Connell struck out 99 batters in her sophomore season and 155 in her freshman season.

By Randy Whetstone Jr.–

Dominance describes the manner in which junior Caralisa Connell has performed for Louisville women’s softball.  She is 8-1 on the season, currently on pace to have another outstanding year. Connell went 39-8 in her first two years at the University of Louisville owning the freshman record for wins (20) and strikeouts (155). In recent performances she has been a flamethrower by going 4-0 in a week’s span with two out of the four wins being one-hit shutouts. Hitters have been exposed with an average batting percentage of .095. This season she has earned the Big East Player of the Week honor.

“Well it’s really nice when other people notice when you do things well,” she explained in her statement regarding the recognition, “but two of my other teammates have already gotten it this year too. I think it really shows that our team is really diverse; it’s not always one person that’s doing something.”

Connell gave insight about her mindset in her previous games, and how she has been able to dominate. “We came in and we just knew that we needed to show everyone here what Louisville softball was about, and what we wanted them to see when we played. I thought we’re going to make it fun, and going let the fans have fun watching.”

A pitcher’s ability to dissect a hitter and pick them apart in a psychological battle is something that fans find remarkable. It’s always intriguing to know what the pitcher thinks about when at the mound. “It’s kind of like you talk to yourself in your head like, ‘oh they can’t hit me’. It’s not necessarily that their not capable of it, but if you don’t have that mindset then your going to leave it a little bit over the middle,” said Connell.

The softball team is 12-2 on the year and on a current six game winning streak. Team unity plays a vital role in their success. Connell enjoys the chemistry within the team, and believes each player’s integration is pertinent to make the team a whole.

Connell came to the University of Louisville from Tennessee. She played softball and volleyball in high school.

“I think as a team we have really good team chemistry and we all get along, and we hang out together regardless if we are on the field or off the field. I think that really helps us play together as a team, because we all know that everyone else has your back. From a pitcher’s standpoint a lot of times you’re the one with the ball all the time, you set the tone for everyone else. So if you come out and have a lot of intensity, and you’re focused and you’re ready to go, and you’re throwing strikes then it really helps everyone else jump on board and get that level of intensity and effort.”

Connell recognizes that leadership plays an important role in achieving success for the softball team.

“Well I think that it’s a lot about we are almost forced to be some sort of a leader, because we are the one controlling the game. If we are pitching bad, then the rest of the team can’t do anything to help that. So from a gift standpoint, I just try to use what I have to help my team as much as possible, because the better that I do, obviously the better that our entire team is going to do.”

Caralisa has been a standout player at the University of Louisville since she stepped foot on campus. She may arguably be in discussion as one of the greatest softball pitchers in the school’s history. She expressed her thoughts on her collegiate legacy, and her journey from freshman to junior year.

“Well I think a lot of my freshman year, we had one pitcher throwing game after game after game. Going into sophomore year we didn’t have that particular situation. We had three pitchers who were all capable of doing what we needed to do. You get that game experience and get it under your belt. Every time you come into a game you’re like, ‘Oh well I been in that situation a million times before’ and then it’s a lot less stressful. With a legacy as a team, we want to go where no team before us has gone, and which for us is the Super Regional’s. So everyday we are working towards being known as the team that doesn’t give up, and is determined to get and do what we have to do to get what we want.”

Connell states that the team is riding on high expectations this season, and encouraged by last season going 55-5. Athletes tend to worry about other persons perspective or external expectations that could possibly hinder their own. She has been able to handle these concepts in different ways.

“For me it’s just thinking about, this is what we they expect me to do, but I can’t dwell on what they expect me to do I just have to know what I can do, because when you start to dwell on what their expecting you start feeling the pressure, and when you feel the pressure it’s in your head and it’s in everything you do, and your not as successful.”

This statement could be used as a vehicle for all college students striving toward their heart’s desire. Often times, students face adversity allowing another’s perception to compel them to act in a manner that doesn’t result in production. Connell implied certain skills that she uses in softball that can be utilized in everyday life as well.

Connell and the softball team faced adversity at the end of last season after having an incredible walk-off in the Big East tournament, but the end result in the regionals left an ill feeling for the unit. As a whole, the team believed they should have advanced farther than what they did. Despite the end result from last year’s season, Connell and the Cardinals have gone into this season focused and disciplined. She was asked about how she is able to transition that mindset and character from the athletic setting to the academic setting.

“Well sometimes it’s a little harder than others when your missing class to travel, but in school the time management becomes the biggest problem. The discipline and the focus are hard when you’re so tired, and when you are out of town. But you just think to yourself, ‘just get it done and move on.’ For me I make a to-do list. I am very list oriented, so at the beginning of every day I pull out my planner and write down all of the things I need to get done, and just try and go one-by-one until I reach the end.”

Connell has enjoyed doing community service and believes it bolds well to signify the works of the university. As she continues her softball career, she hopes that people will remember her with a central theme.

“I just try and do the best that I can every day, and when I leave that’s kind of what I want people to remember, that she did all that she could to reach the goals that she wanted to.”

sports@louisvillecardinal.com
Photos: Pete Cauilli/The Louisville Cardinal

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Cardinal athletics breaks BIG EAST Conference titles record

 

By Baylee Pulliam–

With 10 league titles, the 2011-2012 season has been one for the University of Louisville’s athletic record books.

The tenth title sets a new school record for most league titles earned during season play. That tops the 9 earned in 2008-2009, according to U of L Athletics.

Men’s baseball secured the tenth title in their May 19 match-up against Pittsburgh – their third BIG EAST title in four years. Video of them celebrating here. 

2011-2012 season titles:

  • Baseball (co-champions)
  • Football (co-champions)
  • Women’s soccer (North division champions)
  • Softball 
  • Volleyball

2011-2012 post-season titles:

In their seven-year history in the BIG EAST Conference, the Cardinals have claimed 50 league titles – a number that puts them second to only Notre Dame, which has 64. Only seven of the 16 teams in the conference have championship totals in the double digits, U of L Athletics says.

U of L is also the only university in 2011-2012 to appear in a bowl game and score NCAA tournament wins in women’s basketball, volleyball, both men’s and women’s soccer. And then there’s men’s basketball’s appearance in the NCAA Final Four, which fans celebrated around the city.

Student tickets for the 2012-2013 season go on sale starting Tuesday, May 29. Students should receive an email with instructions on how to purchase online. Or, purchase in-person at the Ticket Office.

 

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Louisville softball roadblocked by Michigan, closing out regional play

 

By Baylee Pulliam–

In a shutout game Sunday,  Michigan softball took down Louisville, claiming the NCAA Louisville Regional title with a 4-0 win.

No. 21 Michigan (42-15) took an early lead, over No. 9 Louisville (55-5). Wolverines’ junior second baseman Ashley Lane served up a two-run single in the top of the first.

Michigan’s defense road-blocked every run attempt from Louisville, bringing the tally to 3-zip, Michigan, going into the third. Wolverines’ Amanda Chidester’s RBI single in the fourth plated outfielder Bree Evans, to bring it to 4-0.

Final box score: 4-0, Michigan, ending Louisville’s Regional tournament play. It was the Cards’ second NCAA Louisville Regional loss to Michigan, after a second round loss Saturday.

Despite the loss, the team’s 55-5 record is the best in program history. This year also marks U of L’s first appearance in the top 10 – Louisville closed out the season ranked No. 7 in the ESPN.com/USA Softball coaches poll and No. 9 in the USA Today/National Fastpitch Coaches Association poll.

“I couldn’t be any prouder of this team,” said Louisville head coach Sandy Pearsall in a release.

 

File photo from regular season play by Eric Voet. 

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Louisville softball tops rival Kentucky 3-2, advances to NCAA regional final

By Baylee Pulliam–

Louisville softball advances to the NCAA Louisville Regional final Sunday, after a 3-2 victory over in-state rival Kentucky.

“UK was going to end our season or we were going to end their season. So we weren’t going to let that happen to us,” said Cards’ lefty pitcher Tori Collins. “We’ve had their number all year and we knew we could do it.”

Louisville came out swinging, racking up three runs in the top of the first. Alcija Wolny’s scoreboard-seeking missile was the highlight of the inning, earning the junior first baseman her tenth homer of the season.

After an early start for the Cards, both teams went scoreless through the top of the fifth.

With two outs on the board in the bottom of the fifth, Kentucky’s freshman catcher Griffin Joiner sunk one deep in center field, bringing home two runs for the Cats.

Louisville’s defense ran out the clock. Pitcher Chelsea Leonard snagged two pop-ups to close the sixth – redemption for a string of sour pitches that contributed to a 2-1 loss to Michigan in the regional second round.

I had a very calm sense about me and I thought we would get the out,” Leonard said.

Final box score: 3-2, Louisville.

Louisville will face Michigan in the final tomorrow at 1 p.m. at Ulmer Stadium. The game will be broadcast on ESPN2.

File photo from season play by Eric Voet.

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Cards fall to Michigan in NCAA Softball Regional second round

 

By Baylee Pulliam–

Louisville softball suffered a 2-1 loss against the University of Michigan Saturday, in the winner’s bracket of the NCAA Louisville Regional second round.

Michigan cemented the win in extra innings, after a 1-1 tie at the bottom of the seventh.

A run of tough luck led to U of L pitcher Chelsea Leonard walking Michigan’s Steph Kirkpatrick to load the bases in the bottom of the eighth. And Leonard hit Wolverines’ lefty pinch hitter Caitlin Blanchard, whose walk forced the winning run.

“I was just more concerned that it was a drop ball that went a little high so regardless it wasn’t my best pitch,” Leonard said.

Louisville will face the winner in the Kentucky-Valparaiso losers’ bracket matchup tonight at 8 p.m.

 

File photo from season play by Eric Voet.

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Cardinal softball faces No. 21 Michigan in NCAA Louisville Regional second round

 

By Baylee Pulliam–

Cardinal softball advances to the second round of NCAA regional play, following a 6-4 come-from-behind victory over Valparaiso Friday.

The Crusaders took a 4-3 lead with a two-run single from Valpo’s Jordan Rutkowski in the fifth.

The Cards were scoreless through the fifth and sixth, but came back with late-game dramatics reminiscent of their Big East championship win last weekend.

Junior first baseman Alicja Wolny clinched it for the Cards, with a three-run home run in the bottom of the seventh, with two outs on the board.

Wolny said the players – and their fans – are confident moving forward in regional play. ”It is an awesome feeling that they knew that we could do it,” Wolny said.

No. 7/9 Louisville will take on No. 21 University of Michigan on Saturday at 3:04 p.m. at U of L’s Ulmer Stadium. The game will be broadcast on ESPN.

 

File photo from season play by Eric Voet.

Louisville softball fights Irish to claim Big East Tournament title

University of Louisville softball has toppled Notre Dame to claim its first Big East Tournament title since 2007.

Sophomore outfielder Jordan Trimble secured the win with a walk-off home run in the bottom of the eighth, to win 4-3 over the Irish.

The Cards’ team also claimed several individual Big East Championship awards, listed here:

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Most Outstanding Player

Jordan Trimble, Louisville, OF

All-Tournament Team

Tori Collins, Louisville, P

Taner Fowler, Louisville, DP

Jordan Trimble, Louisville, OF

Alicja Wolny, Louisville, 1B

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Softball dominates Longwood, 8-0,7-1

By Ryan Martin–

The University of Louisville softball team was dominant in their performances against Longwood University on Saturday, winning 8-0 and 7-1, respectively. Although the weather was an interfering factor for some parts of the game and even delayed the start for about an hour, the girls managed to play in effortless fashion.

“We have played in the rain before, so I don’t think it had much of an effect on our performance at all,” said pitcher Tara Collins, who threw her first no-hitter in the first game.

Head Coach Sandy Pearsall stated that she was very happy with the way her team performed. “I was kind of thinking it would be more of a close game,” she said, “I knew that it all depended on which team’s offense was going to play better, and luckily that went our way.”

The softball team will return to action on Wednesday, April 18 at Ulmer Stadium against the University of South Florida.

sports@louisvillecardinal.com
Photos: Eric Voet/The Louisville Cardinal