By Sam Draut–

The University of Louisville softball team celebrated the careers of three seniors – Brittany Sims, Hailey Smith and Morgan Hart – before the third and final game of the last home series of season. The Cardinals (32-10 overall, 13-5 in the ACC) defeated Syracuse 6-2 to take the series.

Flight: Through the first three innings, Louisville struggled to hit the ball in the air, grounding out six times and striking out twice. With one out in the bottom of the fourth inning, Nicole Pufahl blasted AnnaMarie Gatti’s offering to deep centerfield for a double. Sims followed with a line dive single to center field to give Cardinals their first run of the game. Jordan McNary walked, setting up runners on first and second for Hailey Smith. The senior blasted a pitch off the top of the left centerfield wall for a two-run double to give Louisville a 3-0 lead.

“I wanted to drive it hard, I didn’t care where it went, as long as I drove it hard I knew it would go out to the outfield,” Smith said. “I wanted to move the runners.”

In the bottom of the fifth inning, Sims drove a high fly ball to deep right centerfield to drive in Megan Hensley and Jessica Adell. The two-out double gave Louisville a 5-0 lead.

The circle: After dominating the Louisville lineup yesterday, Gatti went up against Maryssa Becker in the rubber match of the three-game series. Gatti and Becker each pitched complete game shutouts on Saturday, Becker winning game one 4-0 and Gatti countering with a 4-0 win in the second game.

Sunday, Becker got the better of her pitching counterpart. The junior improved her record to 19-6 after pitching a complete game. Becker allowed seven hits and two runs (one earned) while walking two batters to lower her ERA to 1.73. She worked into trouble in the sixth inning and Syracuse plated two runs after loading the bases with no outs.

Gatti cruised through the first three innings, but ran into trouble in the fourth inning and gave up three earned runs. She pitched 3 1/3 innings and allowed three hits and three walks.

Insurance run: The Cardinals added another run in the bottom of the sixth inning after loading the bases with no outs. Becker hit a shallow fly ball to left field which scored Tiarra Sanabria.

Jammed: McNary and Morgan Meyer reached base on walks and Sidney Melton bunted to load the base with one out and Louisville’s two best hitters headed to the plate. Becker struck out after a long at bat and Megan Hensley lined out to Syracuse shortstop Sammy Fernadez to end the threat in the bottom of the third inning.

In the following inning, Becker worked into trouble of her own after Syracuse’s first two hitters reached base via single and walk. Andrea Bombance advanced the runners to second and third on a sacrifice bunt. Becker got Hannah Dossett to ground out and the runners weren’t able to advance. She then field a ground ball back to her to escape the jam.

Close play: With Syracuse pinch runner Kelsey Johnson on second base with two outs in the top of the third inning, Maddi Doane reached first base on an infield single after Louisville second baseman Sims bobbled the ball on the edge of the infield. Johnson rounded third and headed home, but Sims recovered the ball and threw Johnson out on a close play at home plate.

Photos by Sam Draut / The Louisville Cardinal