LOUISVILLE, Ky. — No. 9 Louisville swept No. 17 USF 4-1 and 9-0 Wednesday evening at Ulmer Stadium to take first place in the Big East Conference standings. The Cardinals improve to 40-2 and 11-2 in the league while USF drops to 40-8 (13-3).
“Our pitchers did a tremendous job tonight,” said U of L head coach Sandy Pearsall. “USF was in position to score and we shut them down I can’t say enough about our offense. They have a great pitching staff and we battled them. I’m very proud of our total team effort.”
In Game 1, sophomore Maggie Ruckenbrod was 1 for 3 with two RBI and senior Tori Collins allowed one unearned run and struck out eight as Louisville defeated USF 4-1.
The Cards took a 2-0 lead in the second. Junior Alicja Wolny drew a leadoff walk and sophomore Jordan Trimble’s one-out walk to set up sophomore Maggie Ruckenbrod’s two-run, two-out single.
Louisville added another run in the third when senior Kristin Austin connected on a one-out single and crossed the plate on Wolny’s double to increase the lead to 3-0.
USF got a run back in the fifth. Janine Richardson reached on an error, stole second and came home on Jessica Mouse’s RBI single to make the score 3-1.
U of L tacked on a run in the sixth when Katie Keller reached on an error and Wolny was intentionally walked to place two on for Taner Fowler’s RBI hit to increase the lead to 4-1.
The Bulls stranded eight runners in the game and had runners in scoring position in the second and sixth, but Collins and the Cardinal defense held them in check. In the second inning, Kourtney Salvarola and Laura Fountain delivered back-to-back singles and Alexis Nowell was hit by a pitch to load the bases with one out. Collins struck out the next two batters to get out of the jam.
In the sixth inning, Kenshyra Jackson and Salvarola led off the frame with hits and advanced on Fountain’s sacrifice bunt to place runners on second and third with one out. Collins got Nowell to hit a grounder to third baseman freshman Kayla Soles who fielded the ball and threw to Ruckenbrod in time to tag pinch-runner Courtney Goff out at the plate for the second out of the inning. A groundout ended the inning.
Collins got the complete game win to improve to 19-1 on the season. Wolny was 1 for 1 with a double, a run and an RBI. Fowler was 1 for 3 with an RBI.
Sarah Nevins (23-3) took the loss, giving up three earned runs on three hits and striking out three in 3.0 innings. Salvarola was 2 for 3 to lead the Bulls at the plate.
In the nightcap, Trimble hit her first career grand slam and sophomore Taner Fowler had a three-run homer to help lift the Cards to a 9-0 win against the Bulls.
The teams played through three and a half scoreless innings before the Cards broke through with a five-spot in the fourth. Junior Jennifer Esteban broke up Sara Nevins’ perfect game with a leadoff single. Austin followed with a walk. Wolny’s RBI double plated Esteban. With one out in the inning, Fowler was intentionally walked to load the bases for Trimble who crushed an 0-2 pitch over the right field fence for her second home run of the season to give Louisville a 5-0 lead.
U of L added four more runs in the fifth to end the game via the eight-run rule. Esteban led the inning off with a walk. Austin singled and moved to third on sophomore Katie Keller’s base hit. Keller took second when Esteban was thrown out at the plate. A wild pitch sent Austin home and Keller to third. Wolny was intentionally walked to place two on for Fowler’s team-leading sixth home run of the season.
Much like game one of the doubleheader, the Bulls had a couple of opportunities to score, but the Louisville pitching and defense held strong to preserve the shutout. USF had bases loaded in the second when Stephanie Medina walked, Salvarola singled and Fountain was hit by a pitch to load the bases with two outs, but Cardinal starter sophomore Caralisa Connell dealt a strikeout to end the inning.
A walk by Medina and a hit by Salvarola pushed runners to second and third with two outs, but sophomore Chelsea Leonard registered a strikeout to stop the threat and send the game to the bottom of the fourth when the Cards broke through with five runs.
The Bulls had a final chance to score in the fifth when Ashli Goff delivered a leadoff bunt single Jessica Mouse connected on a hit to place runners on the corners, but Leonard registered her fourth strikeout to end the game.
Leonard (8-0) got the win, holding the Bulls scoreless and striking out four in 30 innings of relief. Connell combined on the shutout, giving up one hit and striking out two in 2.0 innings of work. Trimble was 1 for 2 with a home run and four RBIs, Fowler was 1 for 1 with a home run and three RBIs, Wolny was 1 for 2 with a double, a run and an RBI.
Nevins (23-4) took the loss, allowing five earned runs on three hits and striking out four in 3.1 innings. Salvarola was 2 for 2 to pace USF offensively.