Louisville attack leads to 6-0 softball shutout


at LOCATION GOES HERE on Wednesday, April 7, 2010. Photo by William Baldon

By Chandler Howard

The UK-Louisville home-and-home softball series ended much like it began.

The Cats and Cards squared off for the second half of their annual two-game series on Wednesday night. The buzz surrounding the match was evident even through the bouts of light rain that hit Ulmer Stadium throughout the evening.

The final inning of the March match between the intrastate rivals seemed to have carried over to the opening portion of Wednesday’s late afternoon game.

UK (22-16, 7-9 Southeastern Conference) found itself down early in the opening inning. Sophomore pitcher Rachel Riley could not find her mark from the circle. Riley allowed Louisville (25-12, 4-2 Big East Conference) to score five runs on seven hits.

Louisville’s five runs were the most allowed by UK in the first inning of a game all season, and the second highest of any single inning. A Louisville record 1,134 fans didn’t make things any easier for Riley.

“They came out swinging the bats right away,” UK head coach Rachel Lawson said. “The motivation they had from the crowd’s energy helped to power their already good hitting. It is always important to get your pitcher out of the first inning unscathed and we were unable to do that.”

After the Cats could not produce any offense in the away half of the first inning, UK saw a pitching change take place in the second inning. Sophomore pitcher Chanda Bell entered to replace Riley.

“After Chanda came in, we were able to settle in behind her,” Lawson said. “We did a better job defensively. Plus, she did a great job of shutting down most of their hitters, which was nice to see.”

The next three innings showed little offense from either team. Bell and Louisville pitcher Tori Collins put on a show for the audience, allowing only four combined hits.

Though the Cats struggled to find their stride at the plate in the top of the fifth inning, UK gave up one additional hit to Louisville, pushing the score to 6-0. This would prevail as the final score following a solid defensive performance from both teams to close the game.

Despite Bell playing the majority of the game, Riley received the pitching loss for the Cats. Her record now stands at 8-6 on the season.

UK’s lackluster offense totaled three hits on the evening, a season low for the Cats. Senior shortstop Molly Johnson, senior second baseman Natalie Smith and sophomore third baseman Brittany Cervantes each went 1-for-3.

“Louisville is such a great team with a lot of quality wins under their belt,” Lawson said. “Anytime players can play in front of a hometown crowd of this size, there is nothing more exciting for them.

Now, we just need to look forward to this weekend and keep working how we have been.”