Softball Games of the Week (4/24 – 4/28)

Michigan College Softball

Softball Games of the Week (4/24 – 4/28)


#9 Louisville v. #17 Kentucky  Wed (4/24 6pm ET, Lexington, KY)

Louisville is an impressive 42-6.  The Cardinals are atop the Big East at 15-1, tied with 13-1 Notre Dame in the loss column.  Their RPI, as of last week, has them ranked 13th and in solid position to host an NCAA Regional.  Louisville has won 15 straight contests.  They are getting the job done both in the circle and at the plate.  The Cardinals have a 1.99 staff ERA, second in the conference, and a .340 team batting average, tops in the Big East.  Louisville leads the league in almost every positive offensive category, including slugging, on-base, runs scored, hits, RBI, doubles, triples, home runs, total bases and walks.  Kentucky is 34-14 overall and 10-8 in the SEC East, where they are fifth, because three of the teams in the SEC East are among the very best in the country.  The Wildcats come off a 3-2 week and a 1-2 weekend, where they lost two of three to Arkansas in Fayetteville.  Their last seven regular season games are against Louisville, Missouri and Alabama.  UK is hitting .272 as a team and has a 2.58 team ERA.  These teams have split their last two meetings, both one-run affairs.  The last one was at Louisville in the Regional.  The Cardinals came out on top 3-2.


#2  Florida v. #16 Georgia Fri, Sat & Sun (4/26 5pm, 4/27 12pm, 4/28 12pm ET, Gainesville, FL)

The Gators are 45-5 and just continue to roll along.  They are second in the SEC East, one game behind Tennessee, though they were able to beat the Vols twice.  Coach Walton’s crew has won all six of its SEC series, but was not able to get the sweep over Kentucky, Mississippi State or Auburn.  Florida is scoring just under seven runs per game and has a 1.68 staff ERA.  Hannah Rogers is 25-3 with a 1.41 ERA.  Lauren Haeger is 12-2 with a 2.29 ERA.  Freshman phenom Kelsey Stewart is batting .399 with 19 extra base hits and 30 stolen bases.  Georgia has begun to play better as of late, coming off a sweep of Texas A&M over the weekend.  They are 11-7 in the SEC, just ahead of Kentucky, sitting in fourth.  The Gators and LSU remain for them in the conference regular season.  The Bulldogs are hitting a robust .350 with 53 home runs in 49 games.  Paige Wilson and Kaylee Pualiloa are hitting above .400, both with double digit long balls.  Freshman Geri Ann Glasco leads the squad with 18 bombs.  She’s hitting a solid .385.  Pitching will be the challenge for Georgia against the Gators.  As a team, their ERA is 3.06.  Last season, Georgia won the first game of the series and then dropped the next two.  Senior Morgan Montemayor started both losses and lasted just three innings in both games.  Given history, a sweep is not likely, but if the Bulldogs cannot stay in the game(s) with Montemayor throwing and have to go to the bullpen early, advantage Gators.   


#10 Missouri v. #17 Kentucky Fri, Sat & Sun (4/26 5pm, 4/27 1pm, 4/28 1pm ET, Lexington, KY)

Missouri is 26-7, playing a total of just 33 games.  Most teams have played between 45 -50 games already.  Fourteen of the Tigers’ contests have been lost due to bad weather.  Of course, given Coach Earleywine’s thin pitching situation, less innings may turn out to be a blessing in the post season.  Senior All-American Chelsea Thomas has thrown close to two-thirds of the Tigers’ innings.  She is 17-4 with a 1.41 ERA.  Mizzu is 11-6 in the SEC, third in the brutal SEC East and comes off a weekend where they got two of three from LSU.  Offensively, Missouri has a .324 batting average with a powerful 50 homers, scoring seven runs a game.  Kentucky needs wins to secure their spot in the SEC Tournament.  The top 10 teams will qualify.  The Wildcats sit seventh currently, but with six league games left, three against Mizzu and three versus Alabama, it could get tough.  The last time these two schools faced off was February 2003.  They played twice at Stanford.  Kentucky won both.


#6 Arizona State v. #11 California  Fri, Sat & Sun (4/26 7pm, 4/27 7pm, 4/28 3pm PT, Tempe, AZ)

Before the season one might have predicted this series would determine the Pac-12 regular season champs, but Utah taking two from Arizona State has altered the landscape.  The Sun Devils sit three games behind Oregon in the loss column.  Cal is four back.  Nonetheless it will still be a competitive and entertaining series between two of the top pitchers and teams in the country.  Arizona St. is 39-7 overall, hitting .348 as a team with a ridiculous 75 homers in just 46 games.  Amber Freeman and Cheyenne Cole each have 14.  The Sun Devils have eight players that have tallied at least five bombs and they are scoring almost 7.5 runs per game.  Coach Clint Myers’ pitching staff is strong.  Dallas Escobedo is 21-4 with a 2.20 ERA.  Mackenzie Popescue is 16-2, posting a 1.30 ERA.  Unlike Arizona St., Cal has been riding Jolene Henderson for all of their meaningful innings.  The senior has thrown over 82% (243) of Cal’s innings (295).  She is 27-7 with 26 complete games.  The Golden Bears are 35-9 and 9-6 in conference.  Cheyenne Cordes is hitting .347 and Lindsey Ziegenhirt has a .330 average with 15 homers.  Last season, in route to the conference title, the Bears took two of three from the Sun Devils at home.


#7 Alabama v. #12 LSU  Thur, Fri & Sat (4/25 6pm, 4/26 5pm, 4/27 1pm CT, Baton Rouge, LA)

Alabama is 40-7 and 12-6 in the SEC.  The Tide is tied with LSU atop the SEC West.  Coach Murphy’s team will take on LSU coming off a weekend where they lost the series opener to Miss St. at home.  Led by Haylie McCleney’s .479 average, Bama is hitting .337.  They have hit 54 homers and stolen 106 bases and Kayla Braud has 35 of those.  Jackie Traina and Leslie Jury are both pitching well.  Traina is 17-4 with a 2.12 ERA and Jury is 15-3 with a 1.91 ERA.  LSU is 5-4 in their last nine SEC tilts, sliding back into a tie with Alabama.  Missouri got them twice last weekend in Baton Rouge.  The Tigers are 37-11 overall.  This year’s team is hitting .289, delivering 5.2 runs a game, a 70 point and two runs per game improvement over 2012.  Bianka Bell delivers the power, hitting 11 home runs so far.  LSU’s strength is in the circle and primarily in the person of Rachele Fico.  Fico is 22-9 in 26 starts.  She has posted a 1.99 ERA and pitched 10 shutouts.  In 2012, LSU won the middle game of the series with Fico in the circle.  The series winner probably wins the SEC West.


#4 Oregon v. #13 UCLA Fri, Sat & Sun (4/26 7pm, 4/27 6pm, 4/28 12pm PT, Los Angeles, CA)

Oregon is 38-6 and 13-2 in the Pac-12.  The Ducks have a solid lead in the conference and sit in good position with three game and four game leads over Arizona St. and Washington, respectively.  Oregon is hitting .346 with three regulars over .400.  They have crushed 62 homers.  Leading the power parade are Kailee Cuico (14) and Kaylan Howard (12).  Alexa Peterson is hitting .485, best among her teammates, and has nine long balls.  Coach White’s pitching staff is among the deepest in the country with three hurlers with ERAs below 1.60.  Jessica Moore leads the bullpen with a 20-3 record and 1.37 ERA.  She has 133 of the teams 281 innings and the most starts among the Ducks with 23.  Cheridan Hawkins is 15-3 with a 1.32 ERA in 106 innings.  Karissa Hovinga is 3-0 with a 1.51 ERA over 41 innings and seven starts.  The UCLA bats will need to figure out the Duck pitchers to slow the Oregon run for a title.  The Bruins are in an uncharacteristic spot, the bottom half of the conference standings at 7-11, but they have won their last two league series, taking two of three from both Cal and Arizona.  The Bruins are hitting just .293 as a team.  In 2012 and 2011 UCLA hit .340 and .310.  Stephany LaRosa, Ally Carda and B.B. Bates have done their part at the plate, hitting .379, .336 and .336 respectively.  Bates has 17 homers, Carda 14 and La Rosa 11.  Although the Bruins have a few bright spots, their current on-base percentage of .380 illustrates some of the struggles.  In 2012 and 2011 they reached at a much higher clip, .429 and .420.  Along with the reduced production at the plate, the Bruins have a 2.44 staff ERA.  Ally Carda has a little over 50% of the innings.  She’s 20-8 in 36 appearances with a 2.23 ERA.  Oregon got the best of this matchup last season winning the last two of the series after getting run-ruled in the opener.


#8 Michigan v. #22 Nebraska  Fri, Sat & Sun (4/26 6pm, 4/27 1pm, 4/28 12pm CT, Lincoln, NE)

These two teams are nine and 10 respectively in the current RPI rankings.  Michigan is undefeated in Big 10 play with a 16-0 record.  They are 39-7 overall.  Nebraska is second (12-4) in the conference and 34-10 overall.  Michigan has quality wins over ULL, Texas A&M, Washington, Arizona State and Arizona.  The Cornhuskers were the first team to beat Oklahoma this season.  The Wolverines have won 21 straight games.  Nebraska lost Sunday to Purdue, dampening even a long shot chance to win the conference.  Michigan is solid all around, hitting .349, scoring 7.6 runs per game with a staff ERA of 2.14, led by All-American Sara Driesenga.  Driesenga gets a majority of her team’s innings and has made 39 appearances.  She is 23-5 with a 1.68 ERA.  At the plate freshman Sierra Romero is outstanding, batting .406 with 19 home runs.  Half her 58 hits are for extra bases.  The shortstop is slugging .888.  Nebraska’s bullpen is also full of quality arms.  Tatum Edwards has made 31 appearances, 25 starts.  She is 21-7 with a 1.95 ERA.  Edwards has handled well over 50% of her squad’s innings.  Emily Lockman is 13-3 with a 1.55 ERA.  Nebraska will have to be at their best at the plate to stop the Michigan win streak.  They are hitting just .296 as a team.  This will be the first conference meeting between these two clubs.  Michigan and Nebraska did not meet in 2012, Nebraska’s first year in the conference.