Sandy Pearsall is out, submitting her resignation Tuesday as head coach of the University of Louisville softball team. Her decision to retire followed a second consecutive season in which UofL softball failed to make the NCAA tournament.
Coincidentally, Pearsall’s departure fell on the same day that Florida State was winning its first national championship with a win over Washington. FSU is the first Atlantic Coast Conference team to win a national title in a sport traditionally dominated by the Pac-12 and the Southeastern Conference.
Pearsall’s teams were never much of a factor NCAA competition, winning only three of eight games in their last five appearances. They were 13-22 in 13 appearances in the tournament. Their failure to make the NCAA the past two years was disappointing.
Fans had high hopes for the program following the 2012 season when UofL won its first 28 games and the Big East conference and tournament titles. Great start, finishing 55-5 overall, but bowing out early again at NCAA tournament time.
Pearsall deserves credit for starting the program 19 years ago. Over that span she won 65% of her games, compiling 718-371 won-lost record, with at least 40 victories in eight seasons.
Three runs in the first inning, nine in the second, and six in the third.
The UCLA softball team having a field day against the University of Louisville Saturday in the runners-up bracket of the NCAA tournament. The final score was UCLA 19-2. Could have been much worse, mercifully the game being shut down after five innings. Embarrassing for the host team, still another early out in NCAA action.
Indications of discomfort from the fan base, some individuals wondering out loud about Coach Sandy Pearsall’s ability to take the program to the next level. Coming on a day when the Cards had lost earlier to Alabama-Birmingham 7-4 and eliminated from the tournament.
A couple of UofL donors who were there say they were frustrated and humiliated, asking if it may be time for a change. A bad day all around for people close to the team, anticipating much more. There was similar debate on at least two fan message boards.
A good indication of the growing level of interest in the program but somewhat unfair, considering what Pearsall has accomplished.
She has set high expectations, compiling a 553-274 won-lost record since building the program from ground up, starting in 1999. She has guided UofL into NCAA play 10 consecutive seasons. This year’s team had a 47-13 record, following on the heels of the best-ever 55-5 season last year.
No one is hurting more than Pearsall herself, who will find plenty of motivation in the program’s most recent shortcoming.
After falling to Michigan for the second time in as many days on Sunday, the University of Louisville softball season came to a close. Since the establishment of the program in 2000, Sandy Pearsall has committed herself to building one of the up-and-coming college softball programs. While falling short of the goal of a Women’s College World Series, there are plenty of positives to reflect on:
55-5 won-lost season (Record)
25-0 Regular Season Home Record
Big East Regular Season Conference Champions
Big East Tournament Champions
Big East Coaching Staff of the Year
Nine All-Big East players
Five All-NCAA Great Lakes players
Three game season sweep of Kentucky
Single game attendance record, 3,124 (against UK)
After losing only three seniors, (Tori Collins, Kristin Austin, Tesha Paysen), the Cards should be poised for another exciting season in 2013. The next step is putting together a respectable out-of-conference schedule. UofL had the best record in college softball, but received only a No. 15 seed because of its schedule and RPI.
Tom Jurich and Julie Hermann are looking out for the softball program, with plans for a $2.6 million expansion Ulmer Stadium. Improvements will include a terrace, an expanded press box, new locker rooms and team space, and concession areas. The investments will keep bringing NCAA tournament action to Floyd Street, enhance recruiting and greater respect nationally.
Tori Collins of the University of Louisville would throw five innings of no-hit softball but would need help from Chelsea Leonard in eliminating Kentucky with a 3-2 decision at Dan Ulmer Stadium.
A crowd of 3,124, the largest ever at Ulmer, would see the Cardinals hang on for a sweep of all three games against UK this season, sending UofL to the NCAA Regional Final Sunday against Michigan at 1 p.m.
A win over the Wildcats is always nice, but ending their season and sending them home for keeps is even better.
Baseball Cards claim share of Big East title
The Louisville baseball team will have the No. 1 seed going into the Big East Tournament, tied with St. John’s with for the regular season conference title with identical 18-9 won-lost records.
U of L defeated Pittsburgh 9-5 Saturday while Seton Hall was edging St. John’s 5-4. The top seed goes to UofL by virtue of winning two out of three games against St. John’s last weekend.
The win was claimed by Jared Ruxer who spaced out 10 hits over seven and a third innings to for his eighth win against only one loss.
U of L will open the double-elimination championship against a familiar foe in No. 8 seed Pittsburgh on Wednesday at 5 p.m., ET at Bright House Field in Clearwater, Fla.
Editor’s Note: Guess who the fan was jumping up and down behind the right field fence after the winning home run in the Louisville softball team’s 6-4 win over Valparaiso? None other than:
By Creighton Harley
Earlier in the week all efforts to obtain chairback seats proved unsuccessful, so I packed up my lawn chair and sat out on the berm. Turned out to be a blessing in disguise, as the Alicja Wolny’s three-run, walk-off shot knocked off the pole in right field and landed right at my feet.
Yeah, that was me jumping up and down like a mad man, dropping the ball, picking up the ball, waving the U of L banner I had with me and starting the C-A-R-D-S cheer.
From near despair to a moment of pure euphoria.
Early on, it looked like the heavily-favored Cards were going to cruise to an easy win after taking a 3-1 lead in the bottom of the first inning. However, the pesky squad that Valparaiso brought down made sure that the Louisville faithful in attendance had to sweat this one out. Pitching woes were the story for the Cards throughout the game in this NCAA tournament. Several times Valparaiso loaded the bases, putting four runs on the board while the pitcher was keeping the clamps on the Cards.
While several of the fans in the sweltering heat were trying to figure what was causing the softball team to struggle, nobody was giving up hope. Everybody in the stadium rose to their feet as the bottom of the seventh began, in what seemed to be one of the better attended games of all time at Ulmer stadium. Somebody in the pressbox cued up “Sandstormm,” and from that point on we knew the Cardinals would not go down without a fight.
My only disappointment of the night was having to return the softball. What’s up with that?