Louisville Walks Off with 2012 BIG EAST Softball Championship

NOTRE DAME, Ind. - Louisville sophomore Jordan Trimble sent the first pitch of the bottom of the eighth inning over the right field fence to earn a dramatic 4-3 walk-off victory over Notre Dame and give the Cardinals the 2012 BIG EAST Softball Championship title. It is the second championship in program history for Louisville, and the first since 2007.  The Cards won the championship after falling in the title game in both 2010 and 2011.
With the game tied 3-3 in the bottom of the seventh, Notre Dame starting pitcher Laura Winter, the 2012 BIG EAST Pitcher of the Year, got Louisville sophomore Taner Fowler to ground out to second to send the game into extra innings.  This marked the fourth time that a championship game has gone into extra innings, and the first time since 2005.  Championship games were previously decided by extra innings in 2003, 2004 and 2005.  Notre Dame has been a participant in all four of the extra-inning championship games with a record of 1-3.
In the top of the eighth, Louisville sophomore pitcher Chelsea Leonard got a popout, a strikeout and a groundout to send the Cardinals to bat and the subsequent game-winning home run.  
The Cardinals fell behind early, giving up one run in the second inning and two in the third. ND freshman Katey Haus sent a long fly ball over the outfield fence for her seventh home run of the season in the top of the third.  The bomb also scored freshman Emilee Koerner to give Notre Dame a 3-0 lead.
Louisville responded in the bottom of the fourth to climb within one run.  Fowler led off the inning by smashing her 12th home run of the season to left field.  Trimble followed with a triple and used her speed to score on a bunt single by junior Katelyn Mann, cutting the Irish lead to 3-2.
Fowler came up big again for the Cardinals in the fifth inning when she tied the game on a single to left field.  Junior Jennifer Esteban rounded third and crossed home plate, bringing the score to 3-3. 
The Irish built some momentum in the top of the seventh, earning two walks to put the go-ahead run on second base.  With two out, Leonard entered the game for the Cardinals and got Haus to groundout to third to end the inning with the score still tied at 3. 
With the win, the Cardinals improve to 53-3 on the season.  Leonard picked up the win, pitching 1.1 innings with one hit and one strikeout.  The Irish fall to 38-14 on the season.  Winter took the loss for Notre Dame.
The BIG EAST Championship All-Tournament team was announced at the conclusion of the game.  Trimble was named the tournament's Most Outstanding Player after batting .600 in three games, with six hits, one double, one triple and the championship-clinching home run.  She is joined on the All-Tournament team by teammates Tori Collins, Alicja Wolny and Fowler, along with four Notre Dame players, and two apiece from semifinalists DePaul and St. John's.
BIG EAST softball teams will find out their NCAA fate Sunday at 10 p.m. ET when the NCAA airs its softball selection show on ESPNU.  The NCAA Championship is a 64-team tournament beginning on May 17.  Regional action will take place at host schools to be determined on May 17-22 with Super Regionals running from May 24-27.  The Women's College World Series will be held in Oklahoma City, Okla., from May 31 through June 6.
Recaps and scores from all BIG EAST Softball Championship action can be found on the BIG EAST Championship Central page. 
BIG EAST Championship Awards
Most Outstanding Player
Jordan Trimble, Louisville, OF
All-Tournament Team
Lynsey Ciezki, DePaul, 2B
Kirsten Verdun, DePaul, P
Ashley Beza, St. John's, P
Kristi Cady, St. John's, OF
Amy Buntin, Notre Dame, C
Katey Haus, Notre Dame, 3B
Kelsey Thornton, Notre Dame, OF
Laura Winter, Notre Dame, P
Tori Collins, Louisville, P
Taner Fowler, Louisville, DP
Jordan Trimble, Louisville, OF
Alicja Wolny, Louisville, 1B