Softball: Pitt falls short against undefeated Louisville

RJ Sepich | March 27, 2012    

The Pitt softball team came close to handing Louisville its first loss this season this weekend,… The Pitt softball team came close to handing Louisville its first loss this season this weekend, but while the Panthers made their Big East opponent earn each victory, the Cardinals still finished with the three-game sweep.

In the opening Big East series of the season for both teams, the Cardinals (25-0, 3-0 Big East) outscored the visiting Panthers (15-12, 0-3 Big East) by a combined four runs in the series as Pitt narrowly missed pulling off a trio of upsets.

“I thought we played really well against one of the best teams in the country,” senior catcher Holly Stevens said. “We battled, but we just couldn’t finish.”

Louisville 3, Pitt 1

Pitt pounced on its unbeaten opposition in Saturday’s series opener when freshman Savannah King’s single scored Stevens to give the Panthers an early 1-0 lead.

King, in her first career Big East game, carried that momentum into in the pitching circle with three hitless innings to begin the game against Louisville’s Big East-leading offense. But in the decisive fourth inning, the Cardinals strung together five hits that produced all three of their runs.

The Panthers tried to rally, but their offense struggled with runners on base. Pitt stranded nine total base runners in the defeat.

“We just couldn’t put hits together,” King said. “We needed to have more resilience and a little extra fight, which could have made the difference in the game.”

Louisville 4, Pitt 3

The second game of Saturday’s doubleheader was eerily similar to Louisville’s first victory.

Trailing 1-0 entering the third inning, the Panthers grabbed the lead when Stevens hit a two-run single and freshman Maggie Sevilla and senior Kelly Hmiel crossed the plate.

However, the rally ended when Louisville threw Stevens out at the plate following a single by freshman Carissa Throckmorton.

Freshman Alexa Larkin, who also made her Big East pitching debut, conceded Pitt’s advantage in the fourth inning when Louisville regained the lead with a three-run home run.

A Sevilla solo home run narrowed the deficit to one, but yet again the Panthers couldn’t find the crucial hit to score the tying run.

Louisville 2, Pitt 1

The Cardinals completed the sweep on Sunday after edging out the Panthers in a defensive battle.

After five scoreless innings, Pitt grabbed the first lead for the third game in a row. Stevens was the orchestrator of the offense — she singled and then scored her 17th run of the season following a double from fellow senior Yvette Bravo.

But the lead didn’t last long.

In the bottom of the sixth inning, Louisville used a single, an error and a walk to load the bases with Cardinals before a double scored the two runs necessary to snatch yet another victory away from the Panthers.

Despite the losses, Pitt senior infielder Kristen Cheesebrew said she believes this weekend provided another example of the softball program’s progress.

“We’ve been competitive against some of the best teams in the country this year, like Texas, Oregon and now Louisville,” she said. “Now we need to grow as a team and get better so we can get over that hump.”

The Panthers will host Kent State in a nonconference doubleheader Wednesday afternoon before welcoming No. 22 South Florida to the Petersen Sports Complex for a three-game Big East series beginning Saturday.

“We’re ready to come back this week and start picking up some wins,” King said.

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