Softball season is finally here. Surprisingly it arrived before baseball season. The Louisville softball team looks to capitalize off of missed opportunities at the end of last season. The 2016 team lost their last three games and seven of their last 10 games.
This year's squad features many returning starters. Brittany Sims graduated, leaving second base vacant. Hailey Smith split time with Lillie Goetz at third base before graduating. At the first base position Sarah Lopesilvero transferred after having spent only one season with the Cards.
Who to Look For Maryssa Becker is a senior this year and has been a stud at pitcher and as a batter throughout her career here. She is currently the 15th-ranked player by ESPN. Expect her to be the starting pitcher and bat near the top of the lineup.
Megan Hensley was U of L's number two pitcher as a freshman last year and will retain that role. She was second on the team in home runs and rbi's last year, behind Becker. She'll be a top four batter.
Jordan McNary has reached her senior season. She's arguably the fastest player on the team. With her slap hitting and fast speed she looks to either lead off or back last, which is often considered an extra lead-off hitter since they bat right before the top of the lineup returns.
Nicole Pufahl is a red-shirt junior that is another fast player. She is also one of the strongest players on the team. She controlled the outfield last year at center and threw multiple base-runners out at home on straight throws from center field.
What to Watch For With the right side of the infield gone from last year Coach Pearsall has some spots to fill. At first base will be a rotation of players. Becker and Hensley will do a lot of the work over there when not pitching, but Michala Riggle has quite a bit of first base experience for the Cards and will play the position when not pinch running. Senior Tiarra Sanabria has also played first base a lot for U of L, but was injured much of last season. Expect her to get the start. Second base will be a battle between Jamie Soles and Blaire Bass, who transferred in from Auburn.
Pitching is there for Louisville again, but relying on just a pair of pitchers can be brutal for tournaments and short stretches with many games. Sydney Warriner joins the team as a freshman. A rising star, Warriner will be a huge compliment to the pitching corps at Louisville.
Errors were an issue last season. The infield had trouble holding onto the ball and throwing at times, which led to costly runs in games. Has Coach Pearsall addressed these issues in the off-season or will these issues arise once more?
The Cards will have tough match-ups against ranked teams Florida State, Notre Dame, Kentucky, Ohio State, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Arizona, California, and Cal State Fullerton. There is potential for a sub-par season, but also an opportunity for the Cards to take down some of the best teams in the country.
I foresee the Cards going roughly 34-18 this season. As long as there's no major injuries Louisville should do well enough and make the NCAA Tournament again.