SOUTH BEND, Ind. – The No. 9 University of Louisville softball team fell 5-4 to host Notre Dame and rebounded for a 15-1 win over the Irish to split a doubleheader Saturday at Melissa Cook Stadium. The Cardinals (45-9, 18-3) and the Irish (40-12, 18-3) will meet in the rubber game to decide the BIG EAST regular season championship Sunday at 1 p.m.
“I thought the first game was a hard-fought game and could have gone either way,” said U of L head coach Sandy Pearsall. “We both had opportunities to win the game and they capitalized on their’ s at the end. I’m really proud of Rachel for coming in for us and doing a great job. In the second game, we came out and made good adjustments and that’s exactly what we need to do tomorrow.”
Notre Dame 5 – Louisville 4
The Cardinals belted out four home runs and rallied from deficits of 3-0 and 4-2, but it wasn’t enough as Katey Haus’ sacrifice fly in the bottom of the seventh gave the host Irish a 5-4 win in game one of a BIG EAST doubleheader.
Notre Dame jumped to a 3-0 lead when Emilee Koerner drew a leadoff walk and took second on a wild pitch. Jenna Simon’s sacrifice bunt pushed her to third and she crossed the plate on Amy Buntin’s RBI single. Katey Haus’ two-out home run gave the Irish a 3-0 lead.
The Cards got a run back in the top of the second when leadoff hitter Maggie Ruckenbrod led off the inning by taking a 2-2 count into the bleachers behind left field for her seventh home run of the season. Louisville threatened to push more runs across when Katie Keller followed with a single and took second on Hannah Kiyohara’s sacrifice bunt. Taner Fowler was hit by a pitch to place two runners on. One out later, Arion singled to left field, but Keller was thrown out at the plate when she tried to score from second.
Louisville cut the lead to 3-2 in the third when Alicja Wolny connected on a two-out home run. Her 10th homer of the season pulled the Cards within a run.
The Irish extended the lead to 4-2 when Koerner took the first pitch of her at bat over the left field fence for a two-out solo home run.
The Cardinals answered with back-to-back homers from Whitney Arion and Jordan Trimble. Arion sent a 0-2 count over center field for her seventh home run of the season to pull Louisville within one. Trimble followed with her fourth home run near the left field foul pole to tie the game at 4-4.
In the bottom of the seventh, Keorner drew a leadoff walk and Simon was safe on a bunt single. Both runners advanced on Buntin’s sacrifice bunt. Laura Winter was intentionally walked to load the bases with one out. Haus lined out to Hannah Kiyohara, but the right fielder’s throw home was not in time as Keorner crossed the plate for the winning run.
Rachel LeCoq (19-5) took the loss, allowing two earned runs on five hits and striking out four in 6.0 innings of relief. Arion was 2 for 3 with an RBI and a run to lead the Cardinals offensively.
Winter (26-9) got the win, allowing four earned runs on seven hits and striking out three in a complete game effort. Haus was 2 for 2 with a home run and three RBIs in the game.
Louisville 15 – Notre Dame 1 (five innings)
In game two, Katie Keller was 2 for 4 with five RBIs and Alicja Wolny was 2 for 3 with four RBIs as the Cards used a 12-run fifth inning to beat Notre Dame 15-1.
The Cards took a 3-0 lead in the third when Kayla Soles led off the frame with a hit and took second on Arion’s sacrifice bunt. Jordan Trimble walked and Katelyn Mann’s single loaded the bases for Alicja Wolny who connected on a bases-clearing double put the Cards on the scoreboard.
Laura Winter’s one-out home run in the fourth cut the Cards’ lead to 3-1.
The Cardinals used 10 hits to erupt for 12 runs in the fifth inning. Trimble got the frame started with a single and Mann’s triple brought her home to increase the lead to 4-1. Wolny’s single plated Mann. Ruckenbrod delivered a hit and Katie Keller’s team-best 11th home run of the season brought home pinch-runner Chrisanna Roberts and Ruckenbrod to make the score 8-1. Hannah Kiyohara walked and Taner Fowler reached on an error to set up Kayla Soles’ two-run double. One out later, Trimble connected on her fifth home run of the season and second of the day to increase the lead to 12-1. Walks issued to Mann and Wolny preceded Ruckenbrod’s second hit of the inning which sent Mann home. Keller followed with her second hit of the inning, a two-run double to complete the scoring at 15-1.
LeCoq (20-5) got the complete game win, allowing one earned run on two hits and striking out 1 in 5.0 innings. Trimble was 2 for 2 with three runs and Katelyn Mann was 2 for 3 with three runs
Brittany O’Donnell (12-3) took the loss, allowing 11 runs, seven earned, on 11 hits and striking out two in 5.0 innings.