Red & Black Tournament Central | Louisville Game Notes
Jennifer ~nbsp>Esteban Interview
LOUISVILLE, Ky. - The No. 16/17 Louisville softball team returns to action March 10-12 when the Cards play host to No. 14 Michigan, Saint Louis and Illinois State in the Red and Black Tournament at Ulmer Stadium.
The Cardinals (15-0) will face Saint Louis at 11 a.m. and No. 14/14 Michigan at 1 p.m. on Saturday.
On Saturday, U of L will be collecting supplies to help those affected by recent tornadoes that impacted the surrounding areas. Fans are encouraged to bring non-perishable food items, paper goods, pet food and toiletries. Click Here for Complete List of Items Needed for Tornado Relief.
Complete Red & Black Tournament Schedule
Saturday March 10
Louisville vs. Saint Louis 11 a.m.
Louisville vs. Michigan 1 p.m.
Michigan vs. Saint Louis 3 p.m.
Sunday March 11
Illinois St. vs. Michigan 11 a.m.
Saint Louis vs. Illinois St. 1 p.m.
Louisville vs. Saint Louis 3p.m.
Monday March 12
Louisville vs. Illinois St. 12 p.m.
Louisville extended its season-opening win streak to 15 games with three more wins in the Tennessee Classic. The Cards defeated Middle Tennessee 10-1, Memphis 11-0 and Boston 2-0.
As a team, the Cardinals are hitting .337 and have outscored opponents 84-22 through the first 15 games of the season. Senior outfielder Kristin Austin leads the team with a .469 batting average, five triples, three doubles and 15 runs.
Sophomore Taner Fowler follows closely .440 with a team-best five homers and 16 RBI.
The Cardinal pitching staff of Tori Collins, Chelsea Leonard and Caralisa Connell have combined for a 1.23 ERA and are holding opponents to a .147 batting average with seven shutouts and 140 strikeouts in 102.1 innings of work. Senior Tori Collins (7-0) carries a 1.28 ERA with 73Ks in 49.1 innings.
Saint Louis (11-9)
Series Record: UL leads 19-3
Last Meeting: Feb. 27, 2010 - UL won 5-3 at Ulmer Stadium
Scouting the Bilikens: SLU enters the weekend with an 11-9 overall record. The Billikens are coming off of a 1-3 performance in the Missouri Coaches vs. Cancer Tournament. SLU suffered losses to Missouri-Kansas City (7-1), Missouri State (3-1) and No. 12 Missouri (10-0) before defeating Southeast Missouri State 5-4 in eight innings on the final day.
Jessica Buschjost leads the team with a .353 batting average, 14 runs and 16 stolen bases. Alyson Brand has belted out a team-best three home runs and has 11 RBIs. Kelcie Matesa (3-4) carries a 2.96 ERA with 55 strikeouts in 49.2 innings.
No. 14/14 Michigan (15-5)
Series Record: UM leads 15-1
Last Meeting: March 13, 2011 - Michigan won 2-0 at Ulmer Stadium
Scouting the Wolverines: Michigan (15-5) enters the Red & Black Classic ranked 14th in both coaches polls. The Wolverines are coming off of a 4-1 showing at the ESPN Wide World of Sports - Citrus Classic where they posted wins over then-No. 14 UCLA (5-3), No. 19 Auburn (4-0), Virginia (7-1) and Temple (4-3), BIG EAST Conference opponent Syracuse handed Michigan a 4-2 loss last weekend.
Lauren Sweet leads the team with a .380 batting average and six doubles. Ashley Lane has five home runs. Haylie Wagner (11-1) holds a 1.34 ERA with three shutouts and 49 Ks in 62.2 innings.
Illinois State (11-10)
Series Record: ISU leads 3-1
Last Meeting: Feb. 10, 2007 - Illinois State won 6-1 at the FIU Combat Classic
Scouting the Redbirds: Illinois State brings an 11-10 mark into the weekend. The Redbirds are coming off of a 4-2 performance at the ESPN Wide World of Sports Citrus Classic. They opened the tournament with losses to Oregon (5-2) and Pittsburgh (8-0), but finished with four straight wins over South Alabama (2-1), (then) No. 10/11 Baylor (6-4), Georgetown (6-5 - nine innings) and Penn State (1-0).
The Redbirds are led Lizzie Andrews's .328 batting average, three home runs and 10 RBIs. Jordan Birch (6-6) holds a 2.60 ERA with 67 strikeouts in 59.1 innings of work.
Following a midweek single game at in-state rival Western Kentucky on March 14, Louisville will go back on the road for its final non-conference tournament when the Cards travel to Sacramento, Calif., for the the Capital Classic March 16-18. The tournament field includes: Colorado State, Princeton, Akron and Sacramento State.
Arion named BIG EAST Player of the Week; Connell selection to honor roll
Freshman shortstop/designated player Whitney Arion was selected as the BIG EAST Softball Player of the Week and sophomore pitcher Caralisa Connell was selected to the league honor roll on March 5.
Arion led the Cardinals to a 3-0 weekend with wins over Middle Tennessee, Memphis and Boston University. She batted .500 with four hits, two homeruns and five RBI. In addition, Arion scored three of the team's 23 runs on the weekend. While starting all three games at shortstop or designated player, the freshman carried a 1.250 slugging percentage and a .500 on-base percentage.She was also named to the Tennessee Classic All-Tournament team. The victories extend Louisville's season-opening win streak to 15 games, the best start to a season in program history.
Caralisa Connell improved to 4-0 on the season and helped the Cards extend their win streak when she posted a no-hitter in the 11-0 win over Memphis on March 3. The sophomore struck out three and issued three walks, but did not allow a hit in the complete game shutout, registering her first career no-hitter and Louisville's first since April 22, 2006 when Catherine Bishop notched one against Syracuse.
Cards move up to No. 16/17 in Coaches' Polls
The Cardinals moved up one spot to No. 16 in the USA Today/National Fastpitch Coaches Association rankings. This marks the fifth week in the 2012 NFCA polls.
Their preseason ranking of 24th marked the Cards' first appearance in the top 25 since April 13, 2010 when they were ranked 25th. The Cards subsequently moved up to 21st and then 18th. Louisville reached its highest ranking at No. 14 in the NFCA poll on March 24, 2010 and spent several weeks in the top 25 in 2006, 2007, 2009 and 2010 and was receiving votes in 2011.
U of L is also ranked No. 17 in the ESPN.com/USA Softball moving up two spots from last week's No. 19 ranking. This is Louisville's fourth week in the USA Softball top 25 after debuting at No 23 on Feb. 14 and jumping to No. 20 on Feb. 21. Louisville reached a program-best 14th in the ESPN.com/USA on March 1, 2010. They were also ranked in the top 25 in the 2006, 2007, 2009 and 2010 seasons.
Recapping last weekend
The Cardinals posted a 3-0 record and outscored opponents 23-1 in the Tennessee Classic. Freshman Whitney Arion and sophomores Katie Keller and Jordan Trimble were named to the All-Tournament team.
Louisville 10 - Middle Tennessee 1
Taner Fowler went 3 for 3 with a home run to help lead the No. 17/19 University of Louisville to a 10-1 win over Middle Tennessee in their opening game of the Tennessee Classic.
After a nearly two hour rain delay, the Cards took just an hour and six minutes to dispatch the Blue Raiders in five innings. Middle Tennessee jumped to an early 1-0 lead in the top of the second, but the Cards answered with three home runs to take a 4-1 lead in the home half of the inning. They went on to put up three spots in the third and fourth for the 10-1 final. Tori Collins got the win, allowing one earned run on four hits and striking out five.
Louisville 11 - Memphis 0
Sophomore Caralisa Connell tossed a no-hitter and the Cardinal offense backed her with 11 runs as the No. 17/19 University of Louisville softball team defeated Memphis 11-0 Saturday in the Tennessee Classic.
Connell (4-0) struck out three and issued three walks, but did not allow a hit in the complete game shutout, registering her first career no-hitter and Louisville's first since April 22, 2006 when Catherine Bishop notched one against Syracuse. The Cards registered 13 hits including three home runs, two doubles and two triples with Kristin Austin and Jordan Trimble tallying three apiece.
Louisville 2 - Boston 0
Katie Keller hit a two-run homer in the first while Chelsea Leonard and Tori Collins combined on a shutout as the No. 17/19 University of Louisville softball team improved to 15-0 on the season with a 2-0 win over Boston (5-4) Sunday in the Tennessee Classic.
The Cardinals got all the scoring they needed in the bottom of the first when Kristin Austin was safe on a one-out infield single and Keller followed with her third home run of the season, a two-run shot over the left field wall.
Tennessee Matchup Rescheduled for May 2
The Cardinals were slated to play No. 9 Tennessee in the Tennessee Classic on March 3, but inclement weather in the area forced the tournament schedule to be altered. A make-up game has been scheduled for May 2 at 6 p.m. in Knoxville.
The `S' word
The Cardinals have opened the 2012 season on a 15 game win streak. Not only is it the best start in program history, it is also tied to second for the longest win streak. The 2006 team put together a 17 game win streak from April 22-May 13.
The Cardinals have hit 18 home runs through their first 15 games of the season with eight players connecting on roundtrippers. Sophomore Taner Fowler leads the team with five homers, while sophomore Katie Keller and Whitney Arion have three apiece. Junior Alicja Wolny, sophomore Jordan Trimble and freshman Kayla Soles have one apiece. Sophomore Maggie Ruckenbrod belted out three home runs in her first four games before being sidelined by injury.
The Cardinal pitching staff of senior Tori Collins and sophomores Chelsea Leonard and Caralisa Connell have shut out five the Cards' last six opponents. During that stretch, they have allowed only one run in the last 38 innings for a 0.18 ERA. The trio has notched a pair of one-hitters (Collins and Leonard) and a no-hitter (Connell) and combined scatter a total of 15 hits (.115 batting average) and register 56 strikeouts.
Junior left fielder Jennifer Esteban is on a team and career-best 13 game hitting streak dating back to the Feb. 11 win over UAB. She is currently tied for eighth on the school's all-time list. The speedy leadoff hitter has fulfilled her duties with a hit in 14 of Louisville's 15 games. She has a team-best four doubles and four stolen bases on the season and has scored 12 runs.
Sophomore second baseman Katie Keller is currently on a 10 game hitting streak dating back to the Feb. 17 win over Virginia. She has also driven in at least one run in nine of those 10 games to take over as the Cards' leading RBI producer with 18. As a freshman in 2011, Keller tied the school record with a 16 game hitting streak.
The Cardinals have been without the services of starting catcher Maggie Ruckenbrod since she suffered an injury in the Feb. 11 win over Florida International. Prior to that, the sophomore opened the season on an offensive tear, registering a .417 batting average, three home runs, seven RBI and five hits through the first four games of the season.
Defensively, Ruckenbrod had already thrown out four base stealers and picked off one runner. Last season, she led the league and set a new school record with 10 pickoffs on the season.
Taner's taking over
Sophomore Taner Fowler has taken over at catcher in Ruckenbrod's absence and has turned in a solid performance. After serving playing catcher and designated player last season, Fowler opened 2012 as the Cards' designated player and also saw some time at first base before becoming the regular starter behind the plate for the last 11 games.
Fowler is having a career- best season, batting .440 with a team-best five home runs - surpassing last year's total of four - and is second on the team with 16 RBIs.