By Dalton Ray & Derek Brightwell
The top-ten ranked Cardinals continued their dominant play against ACC opponents in their inaugural season in the league with a three-game sweep of the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets, improving its record to 11-1 in conference, and 21-7 overall.
On Tuesday, Dan McDonnell’s Cards had a seven game winning streak snapped with a 3-0 loss at Indiana. It was their first loss at an opponent’s stadium in four road games this season.
As a team, the Cards hit .271 over the four games this week, which is close to their average on the year as a team. They also got strong performances out of starters Kyle Funkhouser, Brendan McKay and Josh Rogers in the weekend sweep. Funkhouser and McKay both threw seven innings and struck out seven in their efforts on Friday and Saturday, respectively. Rogers struck out six in his six innings to close out the sweep of the Yellow Jackets.
The Cards will take on Miami University at Jim Patterson Stadium on Tuesday at 6:00 p.m. before traveling to 12th ranked Virginia for the weekend series.
Head coach Sandy Pearsell and her troops hosted Indiana at Ulmer Stadium this past week. The Cardinals used a two-inning explosion to prevail 6-1 against the Hoosiers. Sophomore pitcher Maryssa Becker got the win (8-2) and drove in two runs in the victory. Junior Kayla Soles also had a pair of runs batted in. The Cardinals are now 19-8 while IU falls to 10-23.
Even though they got the win, coach Pearsell wasn’t completely thrilled with the way the team started the game.
“We were a little sluggish starting off and we have to be better. We’ve made such great progress over the past month and we can’t have a game where we take a step back. They came to play and the team responded very well and we did enough to get the win.”
Louisville would start off the scoring in the first when Kayla Soles hit a single and drove home Maryssa Becker. IU’s Katelyn Conenna would get a double in the top of the second inning and her RBI tied the game at 1-1. After a few missed chances to take control in the second and third inning the Cards wouldn’t waste any more time in the fourth.
A solid defensive inning would translate over onto the offensive side. Soles would place a ball just over the left fielder’s head and get to second. Next at bat, redshirt freshman Nicole Pufahl would bring her home and advance to third after the Hoosiers couldn’t handle the ball. Brittany Sims would get her second hit of the afternoon and drive home Pufahl. After a double play and a ground out, the Cardinals were up 3-1.
Indiana came out ready in the fifth inning, as they had runners on first and second early, but shortstop Whitney Arion and the rest of the infield tightened up and put them away. Senior Kelsi Jones started the bottom of the inning out with a single and a steal to put herself in scoring position. After Arion was walked, Becker sent a shot to the right-center field fence and brought home both Jones and Arion. Pinch runner Morgan Meyer scored on a sac fly by Soles bringing the lead to 6-1. The final two innings went by quietly and the Cardinals would get the win.
Becker talked after the game about moving from first base to pitcher and her big RBI.
“We’ve worked on that all year and it has worked out pretty well, we pick each other up and we try to be compliments to each other. It was good Shelby (McCombs) got through those innings and I just tried to keep things rolling. On my third at bat I had seen two walks so I was just wanting to be able to put something in play. Kelsi and Whitney did a good job of getting on base and being in a position to score.”
The team is now 22-8 with an 11-1 conference record, which ties them for first with No. 6 Florida State in the conference standings. Both coach Pearsell and first base and pitcher Maryssa Becker were a little surprised by this fact.
“I thought we would be in a position because of our schedule but I think it’s a credit for what this team has been able to do and how they played. We have to continue to improve and be a scrappy team,” Pearsell said.
The past month has been a good time for the Cards. Since Feb. 28, the team is 14-3. In their last seventeen games, the Cardinals have outscored opponents 118-56 compared to the first ten games where they outscored teams 58-43.
The Cardinals have won 13 of 14 games. Next up is the rivalry game against No. 20 Kentucky on April 1.
Photo by Austin Lassell / The Louisville Cardinal