May 20, 2012
LOUISVILLE, Ky. - - The No. 7/9 University of Louisville softball team scored three runs in the first and held on to beat Kentucky 3-2 Saturday in an NCAA regional elimination game. The Cardinals (55-4) will face Michigan (41-15) at 1:00 p.m. Sunday on ESPN2. Kentucky concludes its season with a 30-30 record.
Louisville jumped to a 3-0 lead in the first when junior Jennifer Esteban led off the game with a single. Two outs later, junior Alicja Wolny sent a shot to the scoreboard in centerfield for her 10th home run of the season to give Louisville a 2-0 advantage. Sophomore Taner Fowler followed with a single and back-to-back walks to Jordan Trimble and Maggie Ruckenbrod loaded the bases. A wild pitch sent Fowler home to increase the lead to 3-0.
Kentucky answered in the bottom of the fifth when Brittany Cervantes broke up Tori Collins' no-hitter with a single to right field. Griffin Joiner's two-out home run over the center field fence.
The Wildcats had a chance to score in the bottom of the sixth. Rachel Riley reached on an error and was lifted for pinch-runner Sarah Frazer who stole second. Lauren Cumbess registered a single to place runners on the corners with one out. Reliever Chelsea Leonard got Kara Howard to foul out to catcher Taner Fowler, but pinch-runner Ashleigh Gustafsson took second on the play. A pop up to first ended the inning.
In the bottom of the seventh, Joiner drew a two-out walk to place the tying run on first. Ginny Carroll sent a fly ball to deep left field, but Esteban made the catch for the final out of the game.
Senior Tori Collins (25-1) got the win, allowing two earned runs on two hits and striking out three in 5.1 innings. Leonard picked up her 12th save of the season, holding the Cats scoreless on one hit in 1.2 innings. Esteban was 2 for 4 with a run to lead Louisville at the plate.
UK starter Chanda Bell (16-13) took the loss, allowing three earned runs on three hits and striking out one in 1.0 innings. Rachel Riley held the Cards in check, scattering three hits and striking out three in 6.0 innings of relief.
Sunday's game will serve as the final of the NCAA regional. With the double elimination format, the Cards would need to win two games to advance to the Super Regionals.