TAMPA, Fla. - Game 3 of the BIG EAST Softball Championship Thursday featured the 2012 champion, No. 12/11 Louisville (46-10), against the 2010 and 2011 champions, Syracuse (23-29). The No. 3 seeded Cardinals relied on their top-ranked offense to combine for 12 runs on 12 hits in four innings, defeating the No. 6 seeded Orange 12-3 at the USF Softball Stadium. Louisville awaits the winner of No. 2 USF (40-14) against No. 7 Providence (23-27-1) for a 6:30 p.m. ET contest tomorrow.
Thursday's game marked the fourth meeting at the BIG EAST Championship between the two schools. The Cardinals won the first meeting in 2007 6-1 in the first round, however, the Orange defeated Louisville in the 2010 and 2011 finals by scores of 2-1 and 1-0 respectively.
Louisville leads the league in several offensive categories in BIG EAST games and its top-ranked offense came out swinging once again Thursday. The Cards, who lead the league in batting average (.364), slugging percentage (.604), on-base percentage (.441), runs scored (173), RBI (165), doubles (45), and home runs (31), tallied 12 runs in just four innings. The team opened the game with a five-run first inning on four hits including two triples from senior leftfielder Katelyn Mann, a First Team All-BIG EAST selection, followed by sophomore third baseman Kayla Soles.
Syracuse retaliated in the top of the third with back-to-back home runs from freshman Corinne Ozanne and sophomore leftfielder Julie Wambold, respectively, to cut the deficit to two. Ozanne was named a Third Team All-BIG EAST selection Wednesday night.
The Orange run was short-lived as 2012 BIG EAST Championship Most Outstanding Performer, senior centerfielder Jordan Trimble, connected on a two-out grand slam in the bottom half of the inning to increase the Cards' lead to six. Louisville added three more runs in the fourth to put the eight-run rule into effect and claim a 12-3 win through 5.5 innings.
Louisville has reached the BIG EAST Championship semifinal round each year since joining the league in 2006. The team is 5-2 in semifinal action.