By Sam Draut–

After losing the first game of Sunday’s doubleheader to Virginia Tech 4-0, the University of Louisville softball team won 2-1 and took the three-game series. With the series win, Louisville (26-9 overall, 11-4 in the ACC) takes over sole possession of second place in the conference standings.

“Winning the series is great,” coach Sandy Pearsall said. “That’s a good team and they’re doing very well with a great pitcher on the mound, I was very pleased.”

Manufactured: Pearsall openly admits her team isn’t going to drive many balls over the fence, so she heavily emphasizes the concept of small-ball to score runs. In the second inning, Louisville scraped together two runs to take an early lead. Hailey Smith drew a leadoff walk and Brittany Sims hit a double over the center fielder’s head to give Louisville a 1-0 lead. Morgan Meyer followed with a hard hit ground ball to Virginia Tech second baseman Olivia Lattin. The grounder went through Lattin’s legs and Sims raced around the bases for Louisville’s second run.

The circle: Megan Hensley had a stellar performance, pitching 6 1/3 innings, holding Virginia Tech to five hits and one run. The freshman found a grove in the middle innings, retiring Virginia Tech in order in the third, fourth and fifth innings.

“Once I went through the lineup and knew how the hitters were, my arm was looser, I felt better,” Hensley said.

Hensley set down 11 batters in a row before Breana Davenport hit a leadoff double in the sixth inning. Hensley was replaced by Maryssa Becker after a one-out double by Caroline Schoenewald in the top of the seventh inning. Becker retired the final two hitters.

Pearsall thought Hensley “did a great job” but felt she was tiring toward the end of the game, so she opted to bring in Becker for the final two outs.

“It was a great effort by Megan, something I need to see from her next weekend,” Pearsall said.

Hensley improved her record to 12-3 and lowered her ERA to 2.36.

“This whole week I have been preparing for Virginia Tech,” Hensley said. “I knew I was going to have some pressure on me.”

Rally: Virginia Tech’s designated player Breanna Davenport led off the sixth inning with a double. Hensley retired two batters, but walked Lauren Duff, setting up runners on first and second with two outs. Caitlyn Nolan ripped a double in the right centerfield gap and Davenport scored, but Duff was held at third on what would have been a close play at home plate. Emma Strouth popped out to Cardinal shortstop Sidney Melton to end the threat.

Reshuffle: Coach Sandy Pearsall changed the lineup after her team was shut out and held to three hits in the first game of the doubleheader. Jordan McNary was moved to the leadoff spot while Sidney Melton was dropped to last in the order. Hailey Smith replaced Lillie Goetz at third base while Jenna Jordan moved to the fourth spot in the lineup.

Photo by Sam Draut / The Louisville Cardinal