LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- Holly Aprile experienced a lot of the typical ups and downs that come with being a program's new coach.
"It's been challenging. It's been exciting," Aprile said. "We've dealt with some adversity. We have to battle through that. It's been a lot of different things but overall really amazing. And that's just a tribute to this team and the type of people they are, the type of character that they show on and off the field, how hard they work."
Louisville earned an at-large bid to the tournament after finishing 33-21 in the first year under Aprile. They won six straight games late in the regular season then dropped six of seven to finish the campaign. They are looking to regain some positive momentum this week.
The Cardinals are the second seed in the Evanston (Ill.) regional. They meet Southern Illinois at 1 p.m. Friday. It's a double-elimination format with host Northwestern meeting Detroit Mercy in the other first round game.
"I look at it personally as a fresh start," senior catcher Madison Cousineau said. "It's the postseason, and at this point, your record doesn't matter. You're in the regional, and it's a new start for anybody."
"I think we need to play Louisville softball," sophomore pitcher Danielle Watson added. "We're a team that has to have a lot of fun. We're all excited. If we bring the energy and have a passion for the game, we'll be in a good spot."
This is the Cardinals' 14th NCAA appearance in the 20 years of the program. They are trying to advance beyond the Regional level into the Super Regional for the first time. Aprile said that hasn't been a topic of conversation.
"We try not to get too results focused," she said. "We've had some lessons. We learn from those losses just like we do with our wins. We focus on getting 1 percent better. That's our goal every time. We try not to get too high or low and get bogged down in the outcome but how we can learn from what happened."
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