Struggling Cardinals gives Cats a breather


Freshman pitcher Kelsey Nunley and sophomore catcher Griffin Joiner celebrate the win at the UK vs. WKU game at the softball complex in Lexington, Ky., on Tuesday, March 19, 2013. Photo by Michael Reaves

UK finally gets a break from a brutal conference schedule as it hosts a struggling Louisville team on Tuesday.

The Cardinals are losers of six of their last eight games and are currently riding a two-game losing streak. Louisville has had a rash of unfortunate luck as of late as four of its last seven games have been cancelled. UK, however, has had the misfortune of playing in a brutal conference. Eight of the top 20 teams in the country reside in the SEC, with UK sitting at 14th.

The Cats are coming off a series loss to South Carolina this past weekend and have two tough games back-to-back. After Tuesday’s game, UK will host WKU on Wednesday for the first time this season. On Sunday, the Gamecocks outlasted the Cats in an 11-inning back-and-forth showdown that ended after Alaynie Page belted a solo game-winning home run that clinched the series for South Carolina.

Louisville is all too familiar with teams from the SEC, as it fell to Ole Miss on Saturday. The Cardinals are 1-3 against SEC teams this season, with their only win against Arkansas. The Rebels jumped out to a 5-0 lead against the Cardinals before Louisville chipped away but eventually fell 5-2.

The first match between Louisville and UK ended in a 4-0 Cats win. Kelsey Nunley was dominant in the victory. The junior allowed just five hits and six strikeouts, but since, Nunley has struggled on the mound. After starting the season 11-5, Nunley has fell to 11-11 with a 2.02 earned run average.

With eight games remaining in the regular season for UK, wins down the stretch will markedly improve the Cats’ seeding in the NCAA Tournament. Two of the four teams UK plays, however, reside in the top 20 and are in the SEC. A 5-13 SEC record holds no illusions for a team that has little prospects of making a dent in the SEC Tournament in April. The Cats are no match for the top teams in the conference so wins against Louisville and WKU this week will be important.

First pitch is slated for Tuesday at 6 p.m. at John Cropp Stadium.