For the second time this season, Indiana softball will play the University of Louisville.
The first meeting was a regular season victory for Team 50 at home, but this time the stakes are much higher. The Hoosiers and Cardinals will begin play in the double-elimination Knoxville regional of the NCAA Tournament Friday.
Both teams’ most recent games ended in 2-1 losses as Indiana fell to regular-season champion Northwestern in the Big Ten championship, whereas Louisville lost to No. 5 Virginia Tech in the Atlantic Coast Conference Championship quarterfinal.
Team 50 was the No. 2 seed in the Big Ten Tournament, just as they are in the Knoxville regional. The Cardinals are the No. 3 seed in the regional, one better than they were in their conference tournament.
Both schools boast their respective conference’s Freshman of the Year. Indiana has infielder Taryn Kern, while Louisville has catcher Sarah Gordon. Gordon also made the All-ACC First Team alongside sophomore outfielder Korbe Otis and graduate pitcher Taylor Roby.
Otis leads Louisville with a .406 batting average and is perfect in stolen base attempts –– 21-for-21.
Roby and freshman pitcher Alyssa Zabala lead the Cardinals in the circle. Zabala has 14 wins and 93 strikeouts in 119 innings –– all team-highs. Roby holds the team’s lowest earned run average at 2.56 in just seven fewer innings than Zabala.
Louisville has dominated the all-time series between Indiana, 20-4, but the schools have never met in the NCAA Tournament. Indiana did take the most recent meeting earlier this year at Andy Mohr Field, doubling up Louisville 10-5 April 11. Team 50 scored three runs in each of the first two innings to win wire-to-wire.
First pitch is at 3 p.m. from Sherri Parker Lee Stadium in Knoxville, Tennessee. The game will be televised on ESPN2. Immediately following the conclusion of the Indiana-Louisville game, the No. 4 overall-seed University of Tennessee will face Northern Kentucky University.
The winners of the two games will play Saturday afternoon, as will the losers.