LOUISVILLE, Ky. – Junior Hannah Kiyohara’s RBI single in the bottom of the sixth broke a 1-1 tie and gave the No. 12 University of Louisville softball team a 2-1 win over IPFW in their opening game of the Louisville Regional Friday evening at Ulmer Stadium. The Cardinals (47-11) will face UAB (38-16) at 2 p.m. Saturday. The Blazers defeated No. 13/16 UCLA 6-3 in the opening game of the regional. IPFW and UCLA will meet at 4:30 p.m. Saturday in an elimination game.
“I am pleased that we survived that one,” said U of L head coach Sandy Pearsall. “IPFW is a very good team. The pitcher on the mound certainly had us struggling to hit the ball today. It came down to a great performance by my pitcher, Rachel LeCoq. She did a great job tonight with our defense holding and getting the job done.”
The teams played through four scoreless innings before the Cards broke through with a run in the bottom of the fifth. Hannah Kiyohara got the inning started with a single. Taner Fowler was hit by a pitch and Whitney Arion’s infield hit loaded the bases for Jennifer Esteban who was making her first start since suffering an injury on March 29. Esteban’s RBI single put Louisville on the scoreboard. The Cards had the bases loaded, but IPFW starter Miranda Kramer delivered a strikeout, a flyout and a ground out to get out the jam.
Alex Bousquet leadoff home run in the top of the sixth evened the score at 1-1.
The Cards regained the lead in the home half of the sixth when Maggie Ruckenbrod reached on a two-base error and was lifted for pinch-runner Jasmine Smithson-Willett who took third on Jordan Trimble’s sacrifice bunt. Kiyohara rifled a shot up the middle for her second hit of the game to bring Smithson-Willett home and give Louisville a 2-1 lead.
“I was just trying to get something going,” said Kiyohara. “Every time you play in this type of setting when you come out with a win you feel fortunate. Everyone is good at this point and it’s about survive and advance and we survived.”
The Mastodons threatened to score in the top of the seventh when Audrey Mintari was hit by a pitch and back-to-back errors loaded the bases with two outs. Louisville starter Rachel LeCoq got Bousquet to groundout to first baseman Alicja Wolny to end the game.
LeCoq (22-7) got the win, allowing one earned run on three hits and struck out five in 7.0 innings. Kiyohara led the Cardinals offensively with a 2 for 3 performance at the plate. Esteban was 1 for 3 with an RBI.
Kramer (23-9) took the loss, allowing two runs, one earned, on six hits and nine strikeouts. Bousquet was 1 for 4 with a home run for IPFW.