Columbia, Mo.- The Louisville softball team's 13th straight NCAA appearance ended the same way the previous 12 ended. Sent to the Coulmbia Regional, the Cards had Nebraska, BYU, and MIssouri in their bracket. Missouri, who received one of the top seeds for the tournament, hosted at their stadium.
Missouri mercy-ruled BYU in the first game of the tournament, where Louisville faced a familiar opponent- the Nebraska Cornhuskers. In early February the Cards and Huskers faced each other twice in the ACC-Big 10 Challenge. Nebraska claimed wins in both games by scores of 4-3 and 3-0.
Nebraska put the first runs on the board in the second inning when Madi Unzicker hit a two-run home run. Louisville came back in the top of the third inning with a couple of runs. Hailey Smith walked into the box with the bases loaded and delivered. With a hard hit single up the middle Sidney Melton and Morgan Meyer scored. That was all the Cards could accumulate during the game. In the bottom of the seventh Nebraska's MJ Knighten had a walk-off base hit with the bases loaded to win the game 3-2. The Cards fell to the loser's bracket to face BYU.
UofL faced a win or go home situation as they geared up to take on the Cougars. BYU was quick to score in the top of the first inning before Maryssa Becker hit a two-run home run in the bottom of the inning. BYU got their offense hot, with the help of a Louisville error, to put up three runs in the third off of a home run. Megan Hensley came off of the mound after the runs. Becker replaced her. The Cougars found themselves with the bases loaded and capitalized with a couple of runs to take a 6-2 lead. In the bottom of the inning Nicole Pufahl hit a two-run home run, the first since early in the season, to bring the Cards within 6-4. After keeping BYU scoreless Louisville threatened to score in the last inning when Becker hit a double. A couple quick outs left her stranded and gave BYU the win and sent the Cards home.
In both games the amount of base runners left stranded were their achilles heel. The Cards have left numerous runners in scoring position in many games this season, but failed to drive them in. Errors also played a crucial role in both games for the Cardinals' defense.
Louisville is now 14-28 all-time in the postseason. They finished the year 35-17 and 15-8 in ACC play. Last season, the Cards went 30-19 and 16-7.