May 20, 2012
LOUISVILLE, Ky. - -
The No. 7/9 University of Louisville softball team's best season in program history came to an end with a 4-0 loss to No. 21 Michigan (42-15) in the finals of the Louisville regional. The Cards finish the season with a 55-5 overall record.
"It was a tough battle today," said U of L head coach Sandy Pearsall. "We didn't set a really good tone in that first inning and that was what kind of came back to haunt us. We hit the ball extremely well today. We hit it right at them but we hit it hard. If some of those would fall I think the outcome would have been different."
Michigan jumped to a 2-0 lead in the first when Nicole Sappingfield drew a one-out walk and took second on Amanda Chidester's base hit. Sara Driesenga walked to load the bases for Ashley Lane's two-run single. Sophomore Caralisa Connell entered to pitch for the Cards and retired the next batter. A hit batter loaded the bases with two outs, but Connell induced a fly out to get out of the inning.
The Wolverines added another run in the second when Lyndsay Doyle reached on an infield single and took second on Bree Evans' sacrifice bunt. Chidester's fly out to center sent Doyle to third and she came home on Sara Driesenga's single to make the score 3-0.
Chidester's two-out RBI single in the fourth increased the Wolverine's lead to 4-0.
The Cards started to rally in the top of the seventh when junior Alicja Wolny and sophomore Jordan Trimble led off with back-to-back singles. Sophomore Maggie Ruckenbrod's groundout moved both runners into scoring position, but Michigan starter Haylie Wagner induced a fly out ot end the game.
"The best part was to watch this team continue to battle and battle all the way through," said Pearsall. "Maybe we didn't get that heroic last stand, but this team battled all the way through to the very end. We cannot ask for anything more, that is something this team has done all year long."
"It is a very unique team, a very special team," said Pearsall. "I couldn't be any prouder of this team. The staff is extremely proud of this team. They have had an amazing year and they are an amazing group. They have played hard all year long. I don't know if I have ever had a team like this group."
Louisville's 55-5 record was the best in program history. The Cards produced a 20-2 mark in BIG EAST Conference play en route to winning the league title. They also went on to win the BIG EAST tournament, becoming the first team to win both the regular season and the tournament since Notre Dame in 2003. Louisville earned a No. 15 seed in the NCAA tournament and hosted for the second straight season. At the conclusion of their season the Cardinals were ranked No. 7 in the ESPN.com/USA Softball coaches poll and No. 9 in the USA Today/National Fastpitch Coaches Association rankings. After reaching the top 10 for the first time in program history, they spent the final five weeks there.