Feb. 6, 2013
Weekly Game Notes
The No. 18/18 University of Louisville softball team will open the 2013 season in Las Vegas at the UNLV Sportco Kick-Off Classic Feb. 8-10. The Cardinals will face Texas Tech in their opening game Friday at 2:15 p.m. (EST) and will play host UNLV at 6:45 p.m. On Saturday, U of L will meet DePaul in a non-conference game at 12 p.m. and UCF at 4:30 p.m. The Card will wrap up the weekend against Minnesota Sunday at 1:15 p.m.
The Cardinals are coming off of a program-best 55-5 campaign in which they captured the 2012 BIG EAST regular season and tournament titles and made their ninth straight NCAA regional appearance. Louisville returns seven starters and 12 letterwinners including All-American Taner Fowler and fellow all-conference selections Alicja Wolny, Katie Keller, Whitney Arion, Caralisa Connell, Jennifer Esteban and Jordan Trimble.
Previewing the 2013 UNLV Sportco Kick-Off Classic
Full coverage of the tournament can be found here
The Sportco Kick-Off Classic is a three-day tournament, which runs from Friday, Feb. 8 through Sunday, Feb. 10, will feature four squads - DePaul, Louisville, Texas Tech and UCF - that participated in regional play at the 2012 NCAA Tournament.
Cards against the opponents
Texas Tech - receiving votes in both polls
Series Record: Texas Tech leads 1-0
Last meeting: February 13, 2005 - Louisville lost 5-4 to the Red Raiders. The game was played in the UNLV Louisville Slugger Desert Classic.
Scouting the Red Raiders: The Red Raiders were picked to finish fourth in the Big 12 Preseason Coaches poll after posting a 41-17 overall record and going 13-10 in league play last year. Texas Tech returns 10 letterwinners from that squad, including leading hitters Adriana Perez, Sandy James and Mikey Kenney along with pitchers Cara Custer and Brittany Talley.
Series Record: First meeting
Scouting the Rebels: UNLV posted a 22-27 overall record 2012 and went 3-9 for a fourth place finish in the Mountain West Conference. The Rebels will be led by first-year head coach Lisa Dodd. will field a team comprised of seven starters - including All-Mountain West conference team member Stefany Valentino - and 13 letterwinners.
DePaul - receiving votes in ESPN.com/USA Softball coaches' poll
Series Record: DePaul leads series 25-17
Last Meeting: May 11, 2012 - U of L won 2-0 against the Blue Demons in the semifinals of the BIG EAST Championship in South Bend, Ind. In the regular season, DePaul handed the Cards their first loss of 2012 in a 7-1 decision in Chicago on March 31. Louisville won the second game of the DH, but 4-3, but DePaul took the series finale with a 3-0 victory. The Blue Demons accounted for two of the Cards' five losses last year.
Series Note: DePaul is one of Louisville's long-standing match-ups dating back to 2000.The teams competed in Conference USA till 2005 until they moved to the BIG EASTin 2005 (along with USF).
Scouting the Blue Demons: DePaul was picked to finish fourth in the Big East preseason poll after finishing fifth last year with a14-8 league record, a 36-22 overall mark and an NCAA regional appearance.DePaul returns All-American and All-BIG EAST first team selection pitcher/first baseman Kirsten Verdun and fellow All-BIG EAST conference team member Mary Connolly.
UCF - receiving votes in ESPN.com/USA Softball coaches' poll
Series Record: First meeting
Scouting the Knights: UCF is coming off of a 39-19 season and finished fourth in Conference USA standings with 15-10 mark. The Knights also made their fourth NCAA appearance when they earned an at-large bid to the Florida Regional
This year, the Knights were tabbed to finish third in Conference USA and had three sophomores named to the league's preseason All-Conference team. The top returners include Mackenzie Audas, the 2012 Conference USA Freshman of the Year and the league's Co-Pitcher of the Year; 2012 All-C-USA Second team selection Farrah Sullivan and All-Freshman honoree Kahley Novak.
Series Record: Tied 5-5
Last Meeting: March 14, 2009 - U of L won 3-2 in eight innings at Ulmer Stadium.
Series Note: The series between the two schools dates back to 2000 - Louisville's inaugural softball season when the Cards played their first-ever games at the Metrodome Classic. That year, Minnesota defeated Louisville 2-1 on Feb. 12, but the Cards responded with a 4-0 victory on Feb. 13.
Scouting the Gophers: The Gophers are coming off a season in which they went 31-22 and 10-14 in Big Ten play. Minnesota returns nine starters including third-team All-Big Ten selections Sara Moulton and Tyler Walker.
Louisville will travel to Jacksonville, Fla., to face Stonybrook, Bethune-Cookman, Ohio State and host Jacksonville University in the JU Softball Tournament.
Louisville Ranked No. 18 in ESPN.com/USA Softball Collegiate and NFCA Preseason Polls
U of L is ranked No. 18 in the ESPN.com/USA Softball Collegiate Top 25 Preseason Poll which was released on January 29 and also stands at No. 18 in the National Fastpitch Coaches' Association poll which was released on Jan. 22.
Cards in ESPN.com/USA Softball rankings
Louisville was ranked No. 18 in the final ESPN.com/USA Softball poll on June 12, 2012. The Cardinals reached a program-best No. 7 on May 15, 2012 after spending two weeks at No. 8 - they were ranked in the top 10 for the final five weeks of the season. Louisville spent 15 weeks in USA Softball top 25 after debuting at No 23 on Feb. 14.
Cards in NFCA rankings
Louisville finished the 2012 season at No. 17 in the final USA Today/National Fastpitch Coaches Association poll after being appearing in the top 25 in every ranking period. The Cards reached their highest ranking at No. 9 on April 24, 2012 and spent four weeks at that spot.
Fowler named to College Sports Madness Preseason All-America Team - joins Esteban, Connell, Keller and Wolny on the website's All-BIG EAST squad
Junior Taner Fowler was selected to the College Sports Madness Softball Preseason All-American Third Team. The website also named two preseason All-BIG EAST Conference teams and Fowler was joined by teammate Jennifer Esteban on the first team while Caralisa Connell, Katie Keller and Alicja Wolny represented Louisville on the second team.
Fowler, a junior designated player/utility player registered a .366 batting average with a team-best 12 home runs and 52 RBIs in 2012. She was selected to the National Fastpitch Coaches Association All-America third team and earned Ohio Valley Region and All-BIG EAST first team honors.
Esteban, a senior outfielder from Brea, Calif., is a two-time All-BIG EAST selection and was fourth on the team with a .335 batting average last season. She also scored 43 runs and led the Cards with 16 stolen bases.
Connell, a junior from Murfreesboro, Tenn., is a two-time All-BIG EAST honoree and finished the 2012 season with a 19-1 record and a 1.55 ERA with 99 strikeouts.
Keller, a junior second baseman from Livermore, Calif., posted a .277 batting average with seven home runs and 39 RBIs. She earned All-BIG EAST conference honors in 2011 and 2012.
Wolny, a senior first baseman from El Dorado Hills, Calif., led the team with a .387 batting average and registered 10 home runs and 43 RBI. She is a three-time All-BIG EAST pick.
Cards Picked to Finish Third in BIG EAST Preseason Coaches' Poll
The University of Louisville softball team was picked to finish third in the 2013 BIG EAST Softball preseason poll which is decided by the league's 13 head coaches. USF was the preseason favorite with Notre Dame narrowly edging the Cards for second place.
U of L, the reigning BIG EAST Champion received four first-place votes and 128 points. The Cardinals claimed the BIG EAST regular-season and championship titles in 2012. They finished with a 55-5 overall mark and a 20-2 conference record. The 2012 BIG EAST Coaching Staff of the Year loses two All-BIG EAST First Team selections from a year ago but returns seven all-conference selections. Catcher/utility Taner Fowler and first baseman Alicja Wolny were first-team selections last season while second baseman Katie Keller and pitcher Caralisa Connell were named to the second team. Three third-team selections, including the BIG EAST Championship Most Outstanding Player, outfielder Jordan Trimble, return for 2013. Joining Trimble are outfielder Jennifer Esteban and shortstop Whitney Arion.
2013 BIG EAST Preseason Coaches' Poll
Team 2012 Record (BIG EAST)
1. USF (7) 50-12 (17-5)
2. Notre Dame (1) 40-16 (16-3
3. Louisville (4) 55-5 (20-2)
4. DePaul (1) 36-22 (14-8)
5. Syracuse 43-16 (17-5)
6. Rutgers 26-28 (9-13)
7. Pittsburgh 26-26 (8-14)
8. St. John's 23-34 (10-12)
9. Connecticut 21-27 (9-13)
10. Providence 17-36 (7-14)
11. Villanova 32-24 (6-16)
12. Seton Hall 21-32 (3-19)
13. Georgetown 19-32 (3-15)
The Road Ahead
The 2013 schedule features five top 25 teams including No. 2/2 Oklahoma, No. 9/7 Texas, No. 10/9 LSU, No. 13/15 Michigan, No. No. 21/22 North Carolina as well as eight teams which are receiving votes in the coaches polls (Notre Dame, Syracuse, Kentucky, Georgia, Texas Tech, UCF, DePaul and Illinois State. Additionally 13 teams on the Cards' 2013 slate played in the 2012 NCAA Tournament.
Louisville does not face BIG EAST foe and Women's College World Series participant during the regular season, but the teams could potentially meet in the conference tournament which will be held May 9-11 in Tampa, Fla.
Looking back at last season
The Cardinals finished the season with a .309 team batting average and outscored opponents 306-97. Louisville had five players batting over .300 in its starting lineup. Alicja Wolny led the way at .387, Kristin Austin followed closely at .384. Taner Fowler (.366), Jennifer Esteban (.335) and Jordan Trimble (.313) rounded out the top five batters.
The Cardinal pitching staff of Tori Collins, Chelsea Leonard and Caralisa Connell combined for a 1.39 ERA and held opponents to a .188 batting average with 24 shutouts and 393 strikeouts in 402.0 innings of work.
Cardinal Notes from 2012:
The coaching staff of Sandy Pearsall, Carol Bruggeman and Courtney Scott earned NFCA All-Great Lakes Region and BIG EAST Coaching Staff of the Year honors.
Senior Jordan Trimble was selected the BIG EAST Conference Championship's Most Outstanding Player after helping lead the Cards to their first tournament title since 2007. The Cards also won the regular season championship, becoming the first team to do so since Notre Dame did so in 2003.
The Cards set a school record with nine All-BIG EAST selections: Taner Fowler, Katie Keller, Whitney Arion, Caralisa Connell, Jennifer Esteban, Jordan Trimble and Alicja Wolny are back on the field for Louisville this year.
Louisville's 55-5 overall mark in 2012 was a school record for most wins and fewest losses and led the nation for highest winning percentage.
The Cards were selected as the overall No. 15 seed in the NCAA tournament, marking the first time in school history that they earned a top 16 seed.