#31 Louisville Softball 2015 Preview

Louisville Cardinals

Overall Rank: #31
Conference Rank: #3 ACC
#31 Louisville Softball 2015 Preview
Louisville Team Page


In its one season as a member of the American Athletic Conference, the Louisville softball program really stood out. Although the Cardinals did not clinch the AAC regular season title, they swept through the conference tournament and won the automatic NCAA bid. Sadly for the team, its tournament stay was short, but it salvaged a season that saw a steep drop in wins from 47 to 36. It has been a steep downhill slide for a program that finished the 2011-12 campaign with 55 victories. What can be done to stop the bleeding? There were some key exits from last year’s program, and the move to the Atlantic Coast Conference may raise more questions. Still, if any program can show signs of rebound from a tough year, it is this one.

2014: 36-22, 14-7
2014 Postseason: NCAA
Coach: Sandy Pearsall

Field Players:
There will be some adjustments to the lineup this spring thanks to the departure of two top players. The loss of Katie Keller and Taner Fowler leave holes at the top to fill, but senior Brittany Duncan (.329-10-41) will provide plenty of pop thanks to her home-run bat. Maryssa Becker (.310-3-25) is also back this season, as is Kelsi Jones (.307-11-38). Louisville will have most of its power back in the lineup, including the two top homer hitters, but Keller and Fowler’s departure will hit the team’s .303 batting average hard. Senior Kayla Soles (.297-9-27) is also back this year, so the cupboard does have some key players. Expect Whitney Arion (.277-6-32) to also contribute to the hitting whenever possible. Pearsall will have to move some players around to accommodate departures, but this is an area where the Cardinals may be all right.

This may be a problem area, however. Becker (13-7, 2.13 ERA, 147 strikeouts) is the only pitcher back with considerable experience. Sophomore Tiarra Sanabria, who had a 5.37 ERA in eight appearances, will likely earn more playing time thanks to the departures of Caralisa Connell and Rachel Le Coq. Like any good coach does, Pearsall has recruited heavily and brought in pitchers Bridgette Flaherty and Madi Norman. Connell and Le Coq accounted for 23 wins and 189 strikeouts between them, so those are some pretty big shoes to fill in the circle.

Who to Watch:
Speaking of Madi Norman, she may be the key to how well the Cardinals’ staff rebounds in 2015. The freshman has been the No. 2 pitcher behind Becker in fall ball, and she has done fairly well in the process. Whether this translates over to success at the college level remains to be seen. After all, her last win was against Campbellsville, and that’s a far cry from the ACC teams of the world. Still, Pearsall saw something in Norman that looked impressive, and time will tell if that translates to spring and ACC play.

Final Projection:
With early-season challenges lined up against Minnesota and Washington, Louisville will be tested right off the bat. The good news is the non-conference schedule doesn’t appear to be difficult in some areas, so that will give the Cardinals a chance to get their sea legs before ACC play kicks in and the team gets to the heart of its schedule. Louisville figures to be one of the top contenders in the league despite its graduation losses, as the ACC historically hasn’t been too strong of a softball league. The Cardinals should bounce up to around 40 wins, maybe a few more, and gain another trip to the NCAA tournament.

Projected Postseason: NCAA Softball Tournament

Returning Leaders:
At Bats: Kelsi Jones, OF, 192
Hits: Kelsi Jones, OF, 59
Home Runs: Kelsi Jones, OF, 11
RBIs: Brittany Duncan, IF, 41
Runs: Kelsi Jones, OF, 46
Stolen Bases: Kelsi Jones, OF, 11

Wins: Maryssa Becker, P, 13
Innings Pitched: Maryssa Becker, P, 144.1
Strikeouts: Maryssa Becker, P, 147
Complete Games: Maryssa Becker, P, 6


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