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Sports Notes: Western Kentucky softball star Kramer has monster week, but modest record

Western Kentucky pitcher Miranda Kramer pitched a no-hitter against Charlotte last week and nearly had another against No. 17 Kentucky (WKU Athletics Photo/Megan Stearman)

Western Kentucky pitcher Miranda Kramer pitched a no-hitter against Charlotte last week and nearly had another against No. 17 Kentucky (WKU Athletics Photo/Megan Stearman)


Western Kentucky University senior pitcher Miranda Kramer had quite a week last week even though she only had a 2-2 record to show for it.

Kramer is 20-7 and the only active NCAA Division I pitcher with over 1,000 career strikeouts. She began her week with a 1-0 nine-inning loss to nationally ranked Kentucky despite holding the Wildcats hitless over the first seven innings and striking out 18. The winning run scored on her throwing error with two outs in the ninth.

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If that turn of events bothered her, the disappointment didn’t last long. Two days later, in the first of three games against Conference USA rival Charlotte, Kramer was at it again, tossing a one-hitter in a 1-0 decision, her school-record 11th shutout of the year. Wait, it gets better.

The left-hander from Iowa hung her second no-hitter of the season on Charlotte Saturday, striking out 10 in a 3-1 decision. Again, the run scored against her was unearned. (During the first weekend of the season, she held Troy without a hit and fanned a personal-best 19 batters).

Alas, her luck ran out in the series finale when Charlotte won 3-1 on two unearned runs in the 11th inning. The hallmark of the game, though, was Kramer setting a new Conference USA record with 18 strikeouts.

Her week: four games, 33.2 innings, 59 strikeouts, nine hits and one earned run permitted. Opponents combined to bat .083 against her.

Also during the week, WKU became the first C-USA team to clinch a spot in the league championship May 7-9 in Miami. The Toppers have a three-game advantage over Florida Atlantic in the Eastern Division with a 14-4 mark. Alabama Birmingham is 14-5 in the Western Division, with Louisiana Tech at 12-6.

Western completes its regular season this week, traveling to Louisville Wednesday and then closing the year out with three games at Middle Tennessee. Entering play, Kramer leads the nation in strikeouts per seven innings and is second in strikeouts (346) and shutouts. Her earned run average of 0.80 ranks third overall.

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Louisville, a participant in the College World Series the last two years, is having another strong year, perhaps its best yet.

The Cardinals bring a 34-10 record into its Tuesday night home matchup with Kentucky and are ranked third in the country. After winning three in a row over Bethune-Cookman over the weekend, Louisville has six series sweeps on the season and has won seven of its last eight games.

Some other notable numbers: The Cardinals are 22-4 at home this year and have compiled a winning rate of nearly 76 percent since Jim Patterson Stadium opened in 2005. Through 44 games this year, the Louisville bullpen has a 1.31 earned run average, a 14-0 record and 173 strikeouts against just 54 walks over over 151 innings of work.

It would follow then, that the Cards have won a mind-boggling 129 straight games when entering the ninth inning with a lead, a streak that dates to May of 2012. That includes 31-0 this year. It would behoove Kentucky to get an early lead.

In his last nine starts, Josh Rogers is 7-0 with a 1.28 ERA and 49 strikeouts in 56.1 innings pitched. Nick Solak extended his career-best hitting streak to 19 games, he longest hitting streak of the season for the Cardinals. Sutton Whiting leads the Cardinals with a .351 average and 32 walks while starting all 44 games. Corey Ray leads Louisville with nine home runs, 42 RBI, four triples, 35 runs scored and 24 stolen bases in 28 attempts.

Louisville travels to Clemson this weekend then will be in Lexington to face UK on May 6 at Cliff Hagan Stadium. Kentucky will host Vanderbilt in an SEC series this weekend.

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Although Florida ended UK’s six-game winning streak with a win Sunday, the Wildcats come into the week playing well. They have won their last two SEC series, topping Tennessee and the fifth-ranked Gators. Kentucky (25-17, 10-10) also posted its third consecutive series win over the Gators, equaling the best run in series history and the longest since 1973-75.

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Anthony Davis proved this season that he can post elite statistics, ending the year with a 30.89 player efficiency rate, a comparison of players’ overall games. He also took another major step forward in his first postseason experience, a 4-0 series sweep at the hands of the Golden State Warriors, to show he belongs in the discussion of the NBA’s elite players.

The third-year New Orleans power forward was second in postseason scoring and blocks per game, and 10th in rebounding per game. He averaged 31.5 points in four games, second only to Warriors’ MVP candidate Stephen Curry, and his 3.0 blocks a contest was second to Portland’s LaMarcus Aldridge.

The former UK All-American averaged 24.4 points and 10.2 rebounds a game during regular season action, compared to 31.5 and 11 in the four playoff games.

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The University of Louisville men’s basketball team will play up to six games against national teams from Puerto Rico and the Dominican Republic during a week-long trip to Puerto Rico in August. The Cardinals will face the Puerto Rico National Team, the Puerto Rico Junior National Team and the Dominican Republic National Team during their Aug. 10-17 visit.

Details on game dates will be available at a later date.

The competition coincides with UofL Coach Rick Pitino’s decision to serve as the head coach of the Puerto Rico basketball team in two international events this summer. During the games in Puerto Rico, Pitino will coach the Puerto Rico team while his UofL assistant coaches will direct the Cardinals.

Pitino will coach the Puerto Rico team in the Pan American Games on July 21-25 in Toronto. He will also coach the team in a 10-team, pre-Olympic FIBA qualifying tournament in Monterrey, Mexico on Aug. 25-Sept. 5, where the top two teams qualify for the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.

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The Louisville and Western Kentucky women’s basketball teams will be among the participants in the third annual Gulf Coast Showcase, set for Thanksgiving week in Estero, Fla.

The field that Louisville is in Nov. 27-29 includes four teams – Dayton, Louisville, LSU, and Stanford – that competed in the NCAA Tournament and three that advanced to the WNIT (Maine, Marist, and Missouri State). Purdue went 11-20 last year and made it to the second round of the Big Ten Tournament. The Cardinals are coming off their sixth-consecutive trip to the Sweet 16, posting a 27-7 overall record.

WKU will be part of the Gulf Coast Showcase played earlier that week, Nov. 23-25 at Germain Arena. The Toppers will be joined by Murray State, Central Michigan, Drake, Duquesne, Milwaukee, Pepperdine and Weber State in the field. Each team will play three games in the tournament.

WKU went 20-12 in 2014-15 and finished 12-6 in C-USA action in its debut season in the league.

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