By Jared Anderson
File Photo by Jared Anderson
2019 is the beginning of the Holly Aprile Era for Louisville softball. Aprile is just the second coach in program history after coming from Pittsburgh.
The season started off with a mini-tournament in Fullerton, CA., where the Cards played five games in a span of 48 hours.
Friday, Feb. 8
Idaho State 3, Louisville 0
Early season jitters seemed present in a game where the Cards committed five errors and did not score a run. Louisville finished with seven hits, but left all runners stranded. Megan Hensley (0-1) took the loss after pitching a full game and surrendering three runs (one earned) on six hits. The senior struck out 10 while giving up no walks.
Louisville 9, Cal State Fullerton 0 (5 innings)
Later that day, Louisville's offense got hot as they run-ruled the host team for their first win of the season. The Cards capitalized on six walks and two errors by the Titans despite just six hits. Danielle Watson (1-0) pitched the full game for the win with nine strikeouts and no walks.
Saturday, Feb. 9
Louisville 10, Buffalo 0 (5 innings)
Louisville recorded its second straight run-rule win, claiming the victory in four and a half innings. A combination of 11 hits and four errors by Buffalo helped the Cards do most of their damage in the first three innings. Celene Funke and Caitlin Ferguson each tripled in the win. Freshman Taylor Roby (1-0) got the win, recording 10 strikeouts and three walks.
Northwestern 1, Louisville 0
This pitcher's duel came down to the wire with the Wildcats scoring the only run of the game in the top of the seventh inning on a sac fly. The two teams combined for four hits and the Cards struck out a whopping 13 times at the plate. Watson (1-1) took the loss on a full game where she struck out six and walked four.
Sunday, Feb. 10
Louisville 7, Utah State 5
Hits were frequent in a heavy offensive outing with the Cards winning the hits battle 11-10. Ferguson highlighted the offense with a home run and five rbi's and helped lead the charge when the Cards went up 7-0 early on. Roby (2-0) tossed the first five innings and gave up four runs on six hits. Hensley (S1) got her first save of the year after closing out the final two innings and allowing one run.
The opening weekend does not make or break a season, nor can you define the year on it. It is designed to play as different rotations to see how players handle in-game action.
Three pitchers saw a fair amount of time on the mound and all three handled it well. The trio surrendered 20 hits over a five-game span with 10 of those coming in the final game. They struck out 42 batters and walked none. For a program that has struggled in recent years with consistent pitching the first weekend was a bright spot for the bullpen.
Softball is a game where offenses can be hot one game and ice cold the next, which was apparent over the weekend. Louisville has proven it can score almost at will at times, but also showed it can go silent just as quick. The best teams find ways to get runners across the plate in low-scoring games, something the Cards will need to figure out.
Louisville travels to Chapel Hill for the ACC/Big Ten Challenge this coming weekend before going to Knoxville for a five-game affair in the Tennessee Classic. Their home opener is set for Friday, March 1 in the Cardinal Classic.