#42 Louisville Softball 2018 Preview

Louisville Cardinals
Overall Rank: #42
Conference Rank: #4 ACC
Louisville has some unfinished business to attend to heading into the 2018 softball season. The Cardinals won 31 games and finished second in the ACC during the regular season. However, the ACC is not as loaded of a conference as say the SEC. So when you lose in the ACC Quarterfinals to an NC State that had struggled all year long it ended up costing the Cardinals a spot in the NCAA Tournament. There is a nice amount of returning experience that should set Louisville up to be in the NCAA Tournament conversation this year.
2017: 31-19, 14-8
2017 Postseason: None
Coach: Sandy Pearsall
Key Departed Players:
Maryssa Becker, P, 2.54 ERA, 204.0 IP, 49 BB, 163 SO, .329 BA, 4 HR, 32 RBI
Jordan McNary, OF, .327 BA, 0 HR, 15 RBI, 14 SB
Tiarra Sanabria. IF, .319 BA, 4 HR, 15 RBI
Key Returning Players:
Nicole Pufdahl, OF, .366 BA, 8 HR, 43 RBI
Alison Szydlowski, C, .300 BA, 3 HR, 18 RBI
Jenna Jordan, C, .284 BA, 2 HR, 18 RBI
Megan Hensley, P/OF, 2.98 ERA, 122.0 IP, 78 BB, 62 SO, .288 BA, 3 HR, 28 RBI
Caitlin Ferguson, IF, .274 BA, 2 HR, 18 RBI
Sidney Melton, IF, .364 BA, 0 HR, 0 RBI
Louisville is going to have to do some damage during the non-conference portion of their schedule in order to give some breathing room when ACC play begins. The Cardinals will have games against Northwestern, Ohio State, South Carolina, and Kentucky that will be great opportunities to get resume building wins. The conference schedule is not bad as Notre Dame visits to start ACC play and Florida State is the toughest road series. Nicole Pufdahl is the top returning player in the everyday lineup and will be expected to lead the way once again in 2018. Pufdahl hit .366 and has excellent power as she hit eight home runs last season. Sidney Melton’s return to the lineup after a season ending injury in 2017 will provide stability at shortstop, along with a quality speed threat on the bases. Alison Szydlowski brings experience and versatility to the table as Szydlowski hit .300 last season while spending time at catcher, designated player, and third base. Megan Hensley is the top returning pitcher in the circle for Louisville this season. Hensley went 9-9 with a 2.98 earned run average last season and will need to do a better job with her control in 2018 after walking 78 and striking out 62 last season. Hensley is also productive at the plate as she hit .288 while splitting time between designated player and right field. The Cardinals will need some of their young players to come along quickly and, if that happens, they should get to the NCAA Tournament while winning about 35 games this season.
Projected Postseason: NCAA Softball Tournament