May 8, 2012
Senior Tori ~nbsp> Collins previews the BIG EAST Championship.
The No. 8/9 University of Louisville softball team has earned the top seed in the 2012 BIG EAST Conference Championship and will face eighth-seeded Connecticut Thursday at 12:30 p.m. in the quarterfinals. The winner will meet the winner of No. 4 Syracuse and No. 5 DePaul Friday at 4 p.m. The tournament will take place May 10-12 in South Bend, Ind. with Saturday's final game being televised on ESPNU at 6 p.m.
The quarterfinals and semifinals can be seen live free of charge on BIGEAST.tv.
Click Here for Live Video
Highlights from the games and interviews from Wednesday's pre-championship banquet can be seen on the BIG EAST's On Demand video page. Click Here for On Demand Video
Live stats will also be provided for all games. Click Here for Live Stats
For complete coverage, fans can go to the BIG EAST's Championship Central. Click Here for Tournament Central
U of L is led offensively by senior Kristin Austin who is batting .401 with 43 runs and eight triples on the season. Junior Alicja Wolny follows at .374 with 13 doubles, seven home runs and 35 RBIs. Sophomore Taner Fowler is hitting .370 and has a team-best 11 home runs and 46 RBIs.
As a team, the Cardinals are hitting .314 and have outscored opponents 282-82. Louisville boasts six players batting over .300 in its starting lineup. Kristin Austin leads the way at .401, Alicja Wolny (.374),Taner Fowler (.370), Jennifer Esteban (.335) and Katie Keller (.308) and Whitney Arion (.308) round out the top six.
The Cardinal pitching staff of Tori Collins, Chelsea Leonard and Caralisa Connell have combined for a 1.33 ERA and are holding opponents to a .183 batting average with 22 shutouts and 367 strikeouts in 353.1 innings of work. Senior Tori Collins (23-1) carries a 1.25 ERA with 171 strikeouts in 156.1 innings.
Cards in the BIG EAST Championship
Louisville has reached the semifinals of the BIG EAST Championship every year since joining the conference in 2006 and advanced to the finals in four of their six appearances. The Cardinals won the tournament in 2007 (defeating Notre Dame 3-1 at Notre Dame) and finished runner-up three times (2006 - Notre Dame won, 2010 and 2011 - Syracuse won).
Cards vs. Connecticut
Series Record: Louisville leads 9-5
Last Meeting: April 13, 2011 - The teams split a doubleheader at Ulmer Stadium with Louisville winning game one 5-1 and the Huskies taking the second 5-1. The teams did not meet in 2012.
Scouting the Huskies: UConn enters the tournament with a 21-26 overall record and a 9-13 record as the No. 8 seed. The Huskies have been idle since April 28-29 when they were swept by Syracuse. The Orange picked up 2-0 and 5-2 wins in a doubleheader and edged the Huskies 4-3 in 10 innings in the series finale.
The Huskies are led by Amy Vaughan who is batting .306 with 13 home runs and 42 RBIs. Jennifer Ward has 29 runs with a team-high 25 stolen bases. Kiki Saveriano (11-15) carries a 3.25 ERA with 137 strikeouts in 157.0 innings.
In the BIG EAST Tournament: The teams have met only one time in the conference tournament. In 2009, Louisville won 4-0 in the quarterfinals.
Wolny Named BIG EAST Player of the Week
Louisville junior first baseman/designated player Alicja Wolny was selected as the BIG EAST Softball Player of the Week after the 13th week of action. This marks the second time this year Wolny has earned league honors - she was also named BIG EAST Player of the Week on April 16.
Wolny led the Cardinals to a 3-1 week and helped secure the second regular-season championship in program history. The junior recorded six hits, four RBI and scored six runs last week for a .462 batting average, a .533 on-base percetage and a 1.000 slugging percentage. She had at least one hit in each of the three wins over St. John's, including two home runs in the doubleheader on May 5. Louisville also secured the program's, and coach Sandy Pearsall's 500th victory.
The No. 8/9 University of Louisville softball team has earned the top seed in the 2012 BIG EAST Conference Championship and will face eighth-seeded Connecticut Thursday at 12:30 p.m. in the quarterfinals. The tournament will take place May 10-12 in South Bend, Ind.
Cards Ranked No. 8/9 Coaches' Polls
The Cardinals remained at No. 8 in the ESPN.com/USA Softball poll for the second straight week. Last week, Louisville reached the highest ranking in program history (8th). Their previous best mark was No. 9, where they spent the previous two weeks. On April 17, the Cards reached the top 10 for the first time in program history when they jumped three spots from No. 12. The Cards reached their previous highest ranking three weeks ago when they appeared at No. 11 in the poll. This is Louisville's 12th week in the USA Softball top 25 after debuting at No 23 on Feb. 14 and moving up each week. Louisville was ranked as high as 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.
For the third straight week, U of L remained at No. 9 in USA Today/National Fastpitch Coaches Association poll. The Cards have appeared in the top 25 in all 14 ranking periods this year and have been in the top 10 for the past two weeks. Their preseason ranking of 24th marked the Cards' first appearance in the top 25 since April 13, 2010 when they were ranked 25th. Prior to this year, 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.
Pearsall and the Cards reach the 500 win mark
The May 5 8-4 win over St. John's marked the University of Louisville's 500th win under head coach Sandy Pearsall since its inaugural season in 2000. Head Coach Sandy Pearsall is in her 13th season after building the program from scratch. She has guided the Cardinals to four conference championships, eight consecutive NCAA regional appearances including serving as a host site in 2009 and 2011.
Louisville Captures 2012 BIG EAST Regular Season Title
On May 5, the No. 8/9 University of Louisville softball team captured the regular season BIG EAST Conference title with a doubleheader sweep of host St. John's. The Cardinals defeated the Red Storm 15-4 and 8-4 to secure the title. Louisville notched its second BIG EAST Conference regular season title with the first one coming in 2006. The Cardinals won the 2007 tournament at Notre Dame.
Cards in the national standings
The most recent national statistical ranking were released on May 7 and the Cardinals were among the nation's leaders in several categories including win/loss percentage, triples and doubles per game, earned run average, batting average, fielding percentage and slugging percentage.
Louisville leads the nation in win/loss percentage at .943, has belted out 17 triples and is sixth in the nation with 0.32 triples per game and 86 doubles (1.62 per game). The collective 1.33 team ERA is fifth while the Cards' .974 fielding percentage is 17th. Louisville boasts a .314 batting average and a .488 slugging percentage - placing the Cards at Nos. 18 and 16 respectively.
Sophomore Chelsea Leonard leads the nation with 10 saves. Senior Kristin Austin is fourth in the nation with eight triples and fifth with 0.15 triples per game. Senior Tori Collins stands at 14th with a 1.25 ERA and sophomore Katie Keller is 15th with four sacrifice flies. Taner Fowler is the 25th toughest player to strike out with 7Ks in 162 at bats.
Seniors Kristin Austin, Tori Collins and Tesha Paysen, have won 177 games - the most of any class in program history. As freshmen, they helped set a school record with 48 wins and have broken that record with a 50-3 record as seniors. They have been to three straight NCAA regionals and hosted two, they have also posted two runner-up finishes in the BIG EAST Conference championship.
Last up for the Cardinals
Louisville concluded the regular season with a three-game sweep of St. John's. The Cardinal set season highs for hits and runs to win 15-4 in the series opener and went on to win the next two games 8-4 and 3-1.
Louisville 15 - St. John's 4
In game one, the Cardinals scored 10 runs in the final two innings set season highs for runs and belted out a season-best 17 hits en route to a 15-4 win.
Sophomore Caralisa Connell got the win, allowing four runs, three earned on six hits in 6.1 innings. Senior Tori Collins gave up one hit and retired two in the seventh. Soles was 3 for 4 with two doubles and three RBIs to pace the Cards at the plate. Fowler went 2 for 4 with a home run, four RBIs and three runs. Wolny was also 2 for 4 with a home run, a double, four RBIs and two runs. Each batter in the Cardinal starting lineup had at least one hit in the game.
Louisville 8 - St. John's 4
In game two, Wolny went 3 for 4 with a home run and two RBIs and Fowler added her team-leading 11th home run of the season as the Cards defeated the Red Storm 8-4 to clinch the series and the regular season conference title.
Sophomore Chelsea Leonard got the win, allowing two unearned runs on five hits and striking out seven in 5.0 innings
Louisville 3 - St. John's 1
Freshman Whitney Arion's two-run home run in the fifth helped lift the No. 8/9 University of Louisville softball team to a 3-1 win over host St. John's (22-33, 10-12 BIG EAST). Sunday afternoon.
Caralisa Connell got the win, holding the Red Storm scoreless on three hits and struck kout six in 5.0 innings. Leonard picked up her nation-leading 10th save of the season, allowing one earned run on four hits and fanning four in 2.0 innings of relief. Arion was 2 for 2 with a home run and two RBIs.
Cards Register First 50-win season; seventh 40-win season; ninth straight season of 30 or more wins
On May 5, the Cards defeated St. John's 15-4 and 8-4 to improve to 50-3 on the year, setting a new record for season win totals and registering the first 50-win season in program history.
On April 18 Louisville swept USF 4-1 and 9-0 to improve to 40-2 on the year, marking the seventh time the Cards have reached the 40-win mark. The record for wins was set in 2009 when Louisville went 48-11.
The April 4, 2-1 win over Kentucky gave the Cardinals 30 wins on the season, marking the ninth straight season the Cardinals have won 30 or more games (dating back to 2004). Coincidentally, the Cards have also reached the NCAA tournament eight straight years.
As the program is in the midst of its 13th season, the Cards have posted at least 30 wins 11 times and 40 or more wins seven times.
2012 - 50-3* (program-best)
2010 - 41-19
2009 - 48-11
2008 - 31-23
2006 - 45-11
2005 - 43-20
2004 - 41-19
2003 - 24-26
2002 - 27-28
2001 - 40-36
2000 - 36-26
Home Sweet Home
The Cards have been tough at home this season, posting a perfect 25-0 record at Ulmer Stadium. Among Louisville's victories at home are No. 20 Michigan and No. 17 USF.
Last year, during the regular season, the Cards were an impressive 18-3 at Ulmer Stadium.
Collins Reaches 500 Strikeouts
Tori Collins struck out three batters in the March 24, 3-1 win over Pittsburgh to became the fourth player in program history to record over 500 career strikeouts. She is currently third on the all-time list with 575, needing 42 more to tie Catherine Bishop (2004-07) for second. Kristen Wadwell (2008-10) owns the record with 696.
Austin a member of the 200 Club
Senior Kristin Austin got her 200th career hit in the April 22, 6-2 victory over Seton Hall. She becomes the eighth player in program history to reach the 200 hit mark and moves to eighth on the school's career list. Audrey Rendon (2004-07) owns the school record with 283.
The `S' word
The Cardinals opened the 2012 season on a 28 game win streak and were the only remaining undefeated team in Division I softball until March 31 when BIG EAST Conference rival DePaul handed them a 7-1 loss. Not only was it the best start in program history, it also set a new school record, surpassing the 17 game streak the 2006 team put together from April 22-May 13.
They recently snapped an 18 game win streak - which is the second longest streak in program history - on May 2 with a 7-1 loss at No. 5 Tennessee
The Cardinals have hit 43 home runs with 10 players connecting on roundtrippers. Taner Fowler leads the team with 11 home runs. Junior Alicja Wolny sophomore Katie Keller and freshman Whitney Arion are tied with seven homers apiece. SophomoreJordan Trimble has three home runs while sophomore Katelyn Mann has notched two. Senior Kristin Austin, and Hannah Kiyohara 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.
Senior outfielder Kristin Austin is having a career-best season with a league-leading .401 batting average, 40 runs, eight triples and recently tied a program-best hitting streak at 16. The speedy slap hitter was also responsible for Louisville's only run in the 1-0 win over Kentucky - by slapping a home run over the left field fence.
The Cardinal pitching staff of senior Tori Collins and sophomores Chelsea Leonard and Caralisa Connell have combined for 22 shutouts through the Cards' 53 games. They carry a 1.33 team ERA - which stands at No. 5 in the nation and have 367 strikeouts in 353.1 innings. The trio of pitchers has also held opponents to a .183 batting average.
After missing the majority of the last two seasons with injuries, redshirt Sophomore Chelsea Leonard has had an impact on the Cards' success in 2012. She carries a 1.35 ERA and is limiting opponents to a .195 batting average while striking out 101 in 83.0 innings. She leads the nation with 10 saves.
On Feb. 25, Leonard tied a school record (and her own career high) with a 16 strikeout performance in the 7-0 win over Creighton. In her first complete game since Feb. 21, 2010, the redshirt sophomore took a no-hitter into the sixth inning before surrendering her only hit of the game.
After suffering a season-ending injury early last year, redshirt sophomore Jordan Trimble has returned to form, starting every game in centerfield or shortstop and carries a .297 batting average and 29 RBI. She registered her first career grand slam in the 9-0 win over No. 17 USF on April 18.
Sophomore second baseman Katie Keller recently snapped a season-high 11 game hitting streak and is second on the team with 39 RBI. As a freshman in 2011, Keller tied the school record with a 16-game hitting streak.
Welcome back, Maggie
In the March 12, 8-2 win over Illinois State, sophomore Maggie Ruckenbrod took her first at-bat (resulting in a groundout) since Feb. 11 when she was sidelined by a hand injury in the win over FIU. 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.
Ruckenbrod is now batting .278 with 17 RBIs and has thrown out 13 base stealers and picked off three.
Taner's taking over
Taner Fowler took over at catcher in Ruckenbrod's absence and has turned in a solid performance. After serving as a catcher and designated player last season, Fowler opened 2012 as the Cards' designated player and also saw some time at first base while Alicja Wolny was injured before becoming the regular starter behind the plate for 12 games.
Fowler is having a career- best season, batting .370 with a team-best 11 home runs - surpassing last year's total of four - and leads the team with 46 RBIs.
Connell Deals a No-Hitter
On March 3, Caralisa Connell posted a no-hitter in the 11-0 win over Memphis at the Tennessee Classic. 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.
Collins and Fowler honored at 2012 All-Sports banquet
Tori Collins earned the 2012 Ed Kallay Co-Female Senior Athlete of the Year at the 2012 U of L All-Sports banquet on April 16. She has helped lead the Cardinals to their best record and ranking in program history including a record-setting 28-0 start and became the first player to record back-to-back no-hitters.
Sophomore Taner Fowler received the Inspiration Award for her performance on the field and in the classroom in the wake of the sudden loss of her father in the fall of 2011.
Louisville Picked Fourth in BIG EAST Preseason Coaches' Poll
Louisville recorded two first-place votes and 120 overall points - one behind Notre Dame - to place fourth in the preseason poll. The Cardinals finished the 2011 season with a 38-20 record and a 12-7 league record while making a run to the BIG EAST Championship final, finishing as runner-up for the second year in a row.
2012 BIG EAST Softball Preseason Poll
1. DePaul (3)
2. Syracuse (4)
3. Notre Dame (3)
4. Louisville (2)
5. USF (1)
10. St. John's
13. Seton Hall