Cardinals Down Orange Softball in SU Home Opener

Cardinals Down Orange Softball in SU Home Opener

Published on March 24, 2017

Story and photos by Aubrie Tolliver

SYRACUSE, N.Y.— The Cardinals’ junior catcher Jenna Jordan knocked in a career-high five runs on two hits as the University of Louisville softball team beat Syracuse University 7-4 Friday afternoon in an ACC matchup.

The Cards improved their season record to 19-8 and remain a perfect 4-0 against ACC opponents. Syracuse falls to 17-10 overall and is 3-4 in conference games.

Due to unplayable conditions at Syracuse’s Skytop Softball Stadium, the Orange played its 2017 home opener Friday at the softball complex at Onondaga Community College.The game was delayed due to weather conditions and the second game of the scheduled doubleheader cancelled.

Pitchers duel early

With the game time temperature 41 degrees, a muddy infield and snow on the ground just outside the fences, Syracuse freshman pitcher AnnaMarie Gatti started on the mound for S.U., facing off against a Louisville team that had won six of its last seven games.

The only loss in that span occurred just two days ago, when the Cardinal offense was no hit in five innings by the University of Wisconsin’s ace, Kaitlyn Menz. The team remained hitless through the first four innings of Friday’s game.

“They might have been a little tight from the Wisconsin game because that was something that had not happened to us in a very long time, to be no hit,” UL head coach Sandy Pearsall said.  “So, I think our team was feeling a little tight when we first started off but they just needed to find their groove.”

The Cardinals’ starting hurler, Maryssa Becker, struggled early on, allowing a double and two walks to Syracuse in the first inning. However, an inning-ending double play preserved the 0-0 score.

But, sophomore second baseman Alicia Hansen broke the scoreless tie for Syracuse in the bottom of the third with an RBI single up the middle. It was 1-0 Syracuse at the end of the inning.

Cards break out

In the top of the fifth, the Cardinals managed to load up the bases with just one out.  Sydney O’Hara, a senior utility player for S.U., took the mound in place of Gatti, inheriting the runners. Just two pitches in, Jordan served up a bases-clearing double. With one swing of the bat the score was flopped, 3-1 in favor of the Cards.

Jessica Heese, a junior outfielder, had a chance to put Syracuse back ahead in the bottom of the inning. With two runners on, Heese smacked a deep fly ball to the warning track, but the ball found the glove of center fielder Nicole Pufahl. One batter later the inning was over.

In the top of the seventh, Jordan entered the box, once again, with the bases loaded—this time with two outs. Head Coach Mike Bosch elected to go back to his starter, Gatti, to take care of the batter. But when Jordan’s at bat was over, two more runs had been plated, with an RBI single that narrowly went past the outstretched arm of Orange shortstop Sammy Fernandez.

Louisville tacked on two more before Syracuse got the final out.

Orange rally falls short

The Syracuse offense retaliated in the bottom of the inning, capitalizing on a couple of Cardinal errors. The Orange plated three runs, all with two outs.

“We are a team that will always fight,” O’Hara said. “No matter what the score is, we could be down ten. We are going to fight. We are not going to lose by more than four runs.”

But, that rally only cut the deficit in half. It was 7-4 Cardinals when the final out was made.

Gatti was charged with her fourth loss of the season, dropping her record to 5-4. Becker boosted her record to 14-5 and, since only one of the four runs scored was earned, lowered her earned run average to 1.81.

Jordan finished the game 2-3 with five runs batted in. She had just five RBI on the season prior to the game. Hansen finished the game with three hits, as well, in four at bats. She had two RBI on the day.

Pearsall, who blamed herself for the team’s loss to Wisconsin in a post-game interview, commended her players for their resilience.

“I thought that our team was already upbeat coming in here. They were ready to go and ready to play.”

One more game

Saturday, the two teams are scheduled to play the final game of the series, once again, at the O.C.C. softball complex.

Head coach Mike Bosch said he will give the Louisville offense a different look by starting left-handed pitcher Alexa Romero, a freshman sporting a 6-3 record with a 2.62 ERA in her first collegiate season.

First pitch is scheduled for 5:30 p.m.