The University of Louisville softball team used late-inning rallies to notch a pair of comeback wins as the Cardinals defeated Bradley 10-8 and UMass 5-4 in eight innings on the opening day of the Louisville Softball Classic Friday at Ulmer Stadium. The Cards (17-4) extend their win streak to 10 games and will face UMass again Saturday at 3 p.m.
Junior Sidney Melton led the Cards on the day, going a combined 6-for-9 at the plate and scoring four runs while junior Megan Hensley and freshman Caitlin Ferguson each picked up a win in the circle.
“I’m proud of this team,” said UofL head coach Sandy Pearsall. “In both games, we were down and we responded well. We didn’t give up. We kept fighting and pushing the envelope. We played well defensively in the second game. We certainly need to work on not giving our opponents chances to score by walking them. By the same token, we had opportunities to score runs and didn’t capitalize on them. We need to be better in those situations.”
Louisville 10 – Bradley 8
Sophomore Caitlin Ferguson went 3-for-4 with a career-high three runs and four RBIs and Melton went 3-for-4 with three runs in a game which saw the Cards rally from deficits of 6-1 and 8-6. Seven players connected on at least one hit to help Louisville outhit Bradley 14-13. Hensley (5-1) got the win, allowing two earned runs on seven hits and striking out six in 4.1 innings of relief.
Senior Jenna Jordan’s two-run double in the sixth drove in the go-ahead run and capped a four run inning to lift Louisville to a 10-8 win over Bradley. Down 8-6 entering the home half of the inning, the Cardinals used four hits, a walk and an error to take the lead for the first time in the game. Sophomore Celene Funke got the offense started with a leadoff hit and was at second on an error when Melton reached on a fielder’s choice. Ferguson’s RBI single pulled the Cards within a run. Two outs later, senior Jamie Soles’ RBI hit evened the score at 8-8 and placed runners on the corners for Jordan who stepped up to the plate and laced a double to right center field to put the Cards on top 10-8.
The Braves (8-10) took an early lead in the first when Gabby Stoner led off with a single and came around to score on a hit by Kaelia Wysocki.
The Cardinals answered in second behind Jordan’s RIB hit while plated Hensley who had reached on an error to start the home half of the inning.
Bradley countered with a five-run third after capitalizing on three hits, two walks, an error and a wild pitch to take a 6-1 lead.
Louisville got two runs back in the third when Melton, Ferguson and senior Nicole Pufahl delivered consecutive hits to load the bases. Hensley reached on a Bradley miscue which sent Melton and Ferguson home to make the score 6-3.
The Cardinals kept the momentum going in the fourth inning when hits by freshman Kyra Snyder and Melton put two on for Ferguson who crushed a shot to left centerfield for her first home run to tie the game at 6-6.
Bradley used back-to-back solo home runs by Allison Apke and Taise Thompson to retake the lead at 8-6. The Braves had a chance to extend the lead when a fielder’s choice, a hit and an error loaded the bases, but Hensley and the Cardinals’ defense stood strong when senior third baseman Alison Szydlowski ended the threat with an unassisted putout.
Megan Mafaffy (3-6) took the loss after giving up nine runs, three earned, on 12 hits and striking out one in 5.0 innings. Vicki Zaluske went 3-for-4 with a run to lead the Braves at the plate.
Louisville 5 – UMass 4 (8 innings)
Ferguson’s RBI single in the bottom of the eighth lifted the Cardinals to a 5-4 win as Louisville scored five unanswered runs after trailing 4-0 entering the bottom of the seventh.
The Minutewomen (8-7) took an early lead behind Jackie Garcia’s bases-loaded RBI groundout in the second. Madison Gimpl’s three-run homer in the sixth pushed the score to 4-0.
Louisville had several chances to score throughout the game with runners in scoring position in the first, third, fifth and sixth and stranded 10 runners entering the seventh inning.
With her team down to its last three outs and trailing 4-0, Melton started the home half of the seventh with a single and moved to third on Pufahl’s double. A walk to Soles loaded the bases for Hensley’s RBI hit which put the Cardinals on the scoreboard. An error sent Pufahl and pinch-runner freshman Maddy Newman home and freshman Kyra Snyder’s RBI single plated freshman Riley Schindler to tie the score at 4-4.
UMass started the top of the eighth with Hannah Bunker placed at second base in accordance with the international tiebreaker rule. Watson delivered back-to-back strikeouts before Gimpl earned a walk. A wild pitch on ball four of the walk moved Bunker to third to place runners on the corners. Another wild pitch that sailed to the backstop sent Bunker home, but catcher Jenna Jordan collected the ball and tossed it to Watson who tagged her out at the plate for the third out of the inning.
The Cardinals started the bottom of the eighth with Funke running at second base. After a groundout by Melton sent her to third, Funke came home when Ferguson ripped a single down the right field line to give Louisville the 5-4 win.
Watson (12-3) picked up her ACC-leading 12th win of the season while striking out seven and allowing four earned runs on seven hits. Melton went 3-for-3 with a run to pace the Cardinals at the plate. Ferguson, Pufahl, Hensley and Szydlowski also tallied two hits as Louisville held a 13-7 advantage in hits.
Meg Colleran (2-3) took the loss after surrendering five runs, one earned, on 13 hits and striking out two in 7.1 innings of work. Gimpl went 2-for-3 with a run and three RBIs to lead the Minutewomen.
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