The Louisville softball team wrapped up their 2016 season with the program's 13th straight NCAA tournament appearance. The Cards finished the year with a 35-17 record and 15-8 in the ACC. The 15-8 conference record earned the Cardinals second place, only behind Florida State.
In the ACC tournament U of L defeated Syracuse in the first round before falling to Notre Dame in the second round. In the NCAA tournament U of L fell to Nebraska and BYU in the Columbia Regional.
Louisville lost three seniors at the end of the season: second baseman Brittany Sims, third baseman Hailey Smith, and catcher Morgan Hart. Sims found herself in the starting lineup constantly while Smith and Hart found themselves in battles for their starting spot with others. Sims spent four years with the Cards. Smith and Hart both joined the Louisville roster at the start of their junior years.
U of L started off the season, finding themselves 7-4 after a home loss to Kent State. Nebraska claimed a couple victories and Iowa stole a win early in the season. The Cards bounced back against Iowa and Kent State to take a win later in the season against both teams.
The first ACC matchup for the Cards was a home series versus Georgia Tech. The Yellowjackets finished their year 10th in the ACC out of 11 teams. Louisville claimed the series 2-1.
Storms played a factor during the next stretch of the year as three of the next six games were canceled due to weather. Only two other games all season were canceled.
In prime time games the Cards were par. In South Bend, Ind., U of L went 1-1 against the Irish. To finish off the regular season the Cards traveled to Tallahassee, Fla., and upset the highly-ranked Seminoles in one game out of three.
Their schedule included two games against the rival Kentucky Wildcats, one at each team's home field. Weather canceled the game in Lexington. Baseball was also scheduled to play in Lexington that night, but their game was rescheduled for a week later. Softball did not reschedule.
The game at Ulmer happened, but storms were present late in the game. Leading 1-0 in the bottom of the sixth officials stopped the game because of inclement weather. After much debate to continue the game or end it there the officials decided to resume roughly an hour later. The Wildcats scored a pair of runs in the top of the seventh and the Cards could not overcome the late runs and fell 2-1.
With that three seniors gone the next question is who the leaders for next year will be. Maryssa Becker, who will be a senior in the fall, has been a force for Louisville on the mound and at the plate, and should be one of the captains next year. Jordan McNary, who will also be a senior next year, could be a silent leader extreme, setting by example. Nicole Pufahl, who will be a red-shirt junior, has been a vocal leader for the Cards recently and should find herself in one of the captain positions. Louisville native Morgan Meyer has been a vocal leader and a good role model for the team this year. She will probably be a captain for her upcoming senior year.
Pitchers Madi Norman and Kaylea Horn are expected to be healthy and will join the strong bullpen of Maryssa Becker and Megan Hensley. Tiara Sanabria is coming off of an injury, but should be back in full force for her upcoming senior year.
Sarah Lopesilvero, who just transferred in last season, will be expected to start at first base for her senior year. Besides Lopesilvero, fans saw new faces in Hensley, Lillie Goetz, Jenna Jordan, Jordan Vorbrink, Michaela Riggle, and Jamie Soles.
If Coach Pearsall can get her two slap hitters, McNary and Sidney Melton, at the top of the lineup and on base she has plenty of hitting power from her pitchers, Becker and Hensley, as well as Pufahl.
For the upcoming summer the softball team has plenty of summer camps planned and will be in the full swing of practice and conditioning in the fall semester.
Stay tuned to gocards.com for updated softball news and roster changes.