ORLANDO, Fla. – The No. 15/16 University of Louisville softball team defeated Longwood 9-1 in six innings and Georgia Tech 6-3 Saturday in the Citrus Classic. The Cardinals (15-3) will take on No. 11/11 LSU Sunday on the final day of the Citrus Classic.
“We were extremely happy to get two wins today,” said U of L head coach Sandy Pearsall. “We got good innings from our pitchers, I thought we swung the bats well and took advantage of our offensive opportunities. We were also steady defensively. “
Louisville 9 – Longwood 1 (six innings)
Senior Jennifer Esteban went 3 for 4 with a double, two runs and an RBI to help lead the Cardinals to a 9-1 win over Longwood (7-4).
The Lancers jumped to a 1-0 lead in the first when Kori Nishitomi opened the game with a single and took second on a hit by Brooke Short, and came around to score on Jordan Cox’s RBI single.
The Cards answered with two runs in the second. Maggie Ruckenbrod registered a leadoff single and crossed the plate on a two-out triple by Hannah Kiyohara. Chrisanna Roberts followed with an RBI single to give Louisville a 2-1 lead.
Longwood threatened to score in the fifth inning when Jamie Barfour led off with a single and was safe at second on an error when Katie Shinrock reached on a fielder’s choice and Nishitomi’s base hit loaded the bases with one out. Reliever Caralisa Connell got out of the jam when Megan Baltzel to hit into a fielder’s choice which saw Barbour out at home and Brooke Short grounded out to end the inning.
Louisville used three hits and two walks to score four runs in the fifth inning. Keller drew a one-out walk and moved to third on Esteban’s single. Alicja Wolny was intentionally walked to load the bases for Kayla Soles’ two-run double. Ruckenbrod followed with another two-run double to make the score 6-1.
The Cards tallied three more runs in the sixth. Kiyohara led off with a single and took second on Roberts’ groundout. Katie Keller’s hit put runners on second and third for Esteban’s RBI double. Keller came home on a failed pick-off attempt and Esteban completed the scoring on another Lancer error for the 8-0 final.
Rachel LeCoq (6-1) got the win, allowing one earned run on five hits and striking out four in 4.1 innings. Connell picked up her first save of the season, holding Longwood scoreless on one hit and striking out three in 1.2 innings. Kiyohara was 2 for 3 with a triple, two runs and an RBI. Ruckenbrod was 2 for 3 with a double and two RBI.
Libby Morris (1-2) took the loss allowing nine runs, seven earned, on 11 hits and striking out two in 5.2 innings. Nishitomi was 2 for 3 with a run to lead the Lancers offensively.
Louisville 6 – Georgia Tech 3
In U of L’s second game of the day, senior Alicja Wolny was 2 for 3 with two home runs, three RBIs and two runs scored and junior Caralisa Connell struck out nine as the Cardinals defeated Georgia Tech 6-3.
The Cards struck early with three runs in the first inning. Katie Keller doubled, moved to third on Jennifer Esteban’s single and came home on Wolny’s sacrifice fly. Kayla Soles walked and Maggie Ruckenbrod followed with an RBI single to bring Esteban home. One out later, Whitney Arion connected on a hit to score Soles and give Louisville a 3-0 lead.
Georgia Tech (10-10) got a run back in the home half of the first inning. Ashley Thomas beat the throw for a leadoff bunt single, stole second and came home on Morgan Taylor’s base hit to make it a 3-1 game.
Louisville increased the lead to 4-1 when Arion led off the fourth with a shot over left centerfield for her first home run of the season.
The Jackets had an opportunity to cut into the lead in the bottom of the fourth when Maddie Lionberger singled, Caitlyn Coffey reached on an error and Thomas was hit by a pitch to load the bases with two outs, but starting pitcher Caralisa Connell got a popup to Arion at shortstop to end the frame.
The Cards added an insurance run when Wolny led off the fifth with a home run over the right field fence for her third homer of the season to make the score 5-1.
Georgia Tech responded with a run in the bottom of the fifth. Hope Rush drew a walk to start the Jackets’ inning and was lifted for pinch runner Kaitlin Kates who scored on Karly Fullen’s one-out double to make it a 5-2 game.
In the top of the seventh, Wolny powered a shot over centerfield for her second leadoff home run of the game to give Louisville a 6-2 lead.
The Jackets added another run in the seventh. Rush led off with a double and was replaced by pinch runner Kelly Delashmit who came around to score on groundouts by Katie Johnsky and Karly Fullem for the 6-3 final.
Connell (9-2) got the win, allowing three earned runs on seven hits and striking out nine in 7.0 innings. Keller was 2 for 2 with two doubles and a run. Arion was 2 for 4 with a home run, two RBIs and a run.
Rush took the loss, allowing three earned runs on four hits in 1.0 innings. Fullem was 1 for 4 with two RBIs and Rush was 2 for 2 at the plate to lead the Jackets offensively.