KNOXVILLE, Tenn. - In the battle of the birds, the Ball State Cardinals fell to the Louisville Cardinals 5-1 in its second game of the double-elimination NCAA Regional.
With the loss, Ball State ended the season with a 43-16 overall record, a Mid-American Conference Co-Championship, the MAC Tournament title and the school's second ever appearance in the NCAA Championships.
"We made too many mistakes to win," Ball State head coach Craig Nicholson says. "Which is very uncharacteristic of this ball club. It is what it is."
Ball State took a 1-0 lead in the first inning, which began with a trio of singles by Jessie Ware (Phoenix, Ariz./Hamilton), Lisa Rozanski (Tampa, Fla./Alonso) and Alicia Barkley (Oklahoma City, Okla./Putnam City). Ware attempted to run home on Barkley's hit, but was called out on a throw from right fielder Vanessa James that advanced both Rozanski and Barkley. Ball State scored on the next play as Amanda Carpenter (Santee, Calif./Santana) hit a sacrifice fly to drive in Rozanski for the Cardinals first run of the Regional.
Louisville notched its second and third hits in the third inning which opened with James doubling to right centerfield. She was followed by the team's top hitter, Melissa Roth, whose double drove in James to even the score. On the next play, Barkley initiated the second double play of the game for Ball State by throwing out Alicja Wolny at first. Kate Wilczynski (Tucson, Ariz./Canyon Del Oro) finished the double play effort by throwing out Roth at third base.
In the top of the third, Ball State was unable to answer Louisville's run and Ware was the only batter to reach base.
Louisville's offense continued its momentum in the fourth inning when leadoff batter Jordan Trimble reached on an error by Elizabeth Milian (Grand Blanc, Mich./Grand Blanc) and eventually scored when Wolny singled to right center.
Despite two hits by Louisville and one by Ball State, neither team was able to score in the fifth and sixth innings.
Louisville began to make its move in the seventh when Esteban reached on a throwing error by Ball State. James followed with her second hit of the day to advance Esteban to second base. Then, Kristin Austin reached on a throwing error by Ware, who scooped up the bunt but overthrew the ball to Wilczynski on first base and Esteban scored unearned. Roth was intentionally walked to load the bases and the Big East Player of the Year, Chelsea Bemis, reached on a fielder's choice that saw James out at home on a throw from Ware. With just one out, Trimble hit a sacrifice fly to score Austin for the Cardinals' fourth run of the game. Louisville would score one more as Colby Wherry's double drove in Roth.
The game ended with Ball State putting together two hits in the final frame, but the Cardinals were unable to score.
Milian suffered the loss and fell to 32-7 on the season, while Ware and Barkley each tallied two hits apiece for Ball State.
"We didn't even make the MAC Tournament when I was a freshman," Milian says. "To make it to the NCAA Tournament as a senior was a great feeling."