On Wednesday, the University of Louisville Softball program witnessed four high school players sign their national letters of intent to play for the Cardinals at the next level. Catcher Sarah Gordon, pitcher Cassie Grizzard, outfielder Madison (Pickle) Winkler and pitcher Alyssa Zabala will all join Holly Aprile’s squad next fall.
From the university’s press release:
“Pitching and catching are such an important part of our game and the class of 2022 embodies that mindset in addition to our commitment to recruiting terrific in-state talent,” said Aprile. “Cassie Grizzard and Alyssa Zabala will be key aspects of our future success on the mound as they are both outstanding competitors with high expectations for themselves and our program. Sarah Gordon will be on the receiving end of many of those pitches from her future classmates and she will undoubtedly make our pitching staff better with her high energy and positive spirit behind the plate. Pickle Winkler, who hails from the same hometown and high school as Coach Griffin, brings speed, tenacity, and a love for Louisville Softball that we value so highly.
The class of 2022 is a group of high character, high achieving, determined young women and we are fired up to see them in the Louisville red and black!”
Hometown: Lexington, SC
High School: Lexington High School
Travel Team: Louisville Lady Sluggers
Sarah Gordon comes to Louisville from Lexington, South Carolina, where she plays for Lexington High School and helped lead her team to the 2019 5A state title and the regional championship in 2021. As a junior, posted a .495 batting average and .552 on-base percentage and1.066 slugging percentage with five home runs, 20 doubles, 34 runs and 14 stolen bases.
Following the season, the catcher earned numerous honors including: 2021 5A Region Player of the Year, All-Chronicle Co-Player of the Year and team MVP. She was also named to the Extra Innings All Summer Team.
The two-time all-state and three-time all-region honoree is on the 2022 All-American Futures Watchlist and stands at No. 56 in the Extra Innings Class of 2022 Watchlist and is No. 21 among catchers.
Gordon also plays for the Louisville Lady Sluggers travel ball team.
Sarah Gordon on Louisville
“I love the coaching staff because they made me feel welcomed since I first visited campus. I also love the layout of the school and how it is separate from downtown, but still close enough.”
Hometown: Midlothian, Va.
High School: Midlothian High School
Travel Team: Louisville Lady Sluggers
Cassie Grizzard joins the Cardinals from Midlothian, Virginia where she plays for Midlothian High School. As a junior, she registered a 1.02 ERA with 117 strikeouts in 85.0 innings of work. She was also solid at the plate, turning in a .375 batting average with nine doubles. Following the completion of her season, she earned first team all-region and all-metro honors.
As a freshman, the left-handed pitcher did not allow a run and struck out 29 batters in 13.2 innings.
While playing for the Louisville Sluggers, she batted .420 and helped her travel team reach the final 16 in the Alliance Fastpitch series and the final four in the Colorado TCS.
Grizzard is also successful in the classroom, earning Athletic Scholar honors for the past three years.
Cassie Grizzard on Louisville
“I chose the University of Louisville because of the great atmosphere the campus and softball program have. The coaches’ vision matched perfectly with my future.”
Madison (Pickle) Winkler comes to Louisville from Crofton, Ky., where she plays for four-time district champion Christian County High School. She also helped the Colonels to the 2018 regional title and a fifth-place finish in the state tournament.
As a junior, collected numerous honors, including all-region, all-state honorable mention and was named an East West All-Star. The accolades were earned after an impressive season on the field as she posted a .543 batting average and a .647 on-base percentage while leading her team with 57 hits, scoring 50 runs and producing 40 RBIs. She also set a school record, going 45-of-48 in stolen bases.
The outfielder also registered a perfect 1.000 fielding percentage. She is also a two-time all-district selection (2019, 2021).
While playing for the Louisville Sluggers, she helped her travel team to the Triple Crown Fireworks 18u TV Challenge Championship in 2019 and the Southeastern Fastpitch League (SEFL) fall championship in 2020.
The two-time Extra Innings All-American (2019, 2021) is ranked No. 62 in the Extra Elite 100.
Madison (Pickle) Winkler on Louisville
“I chose Louisville because it’s close to home with an amazing coaching staff who cares about you as a person, not as just a player. It felt like home when I stepped on campus.”
Alyssa Zabala comes to Louisville from Miami, Fla., where she plays for 2021 state champion Doral Academy.
The right-handed pitcher is coming off of a stellar junior season in which she garnered several awards, including: 6A Dairy Farmers State Player of the Year, USA Today Southeast Florida High School Player of the Year, Miracle Sports 6A Player of the Year, all-state Pitcher of the Year, first team all-state, MaxPreps second team all-American and Extra Inning Softball first team all-American.
In 2021, Zabala helped her team to the state title with a 23-2 record, capping the season with a complete game two-hitter in the 6A state championship. She finished the year with a 0.78 ERA in 144 innings pitched with 193 strikeouts.
The two-time first team all-state selection and all-county Pitcher of the Year (2019, 2021) also earned the team MVP Award in 2021 and was named Rookie of the Year as a freshman.
While playing for the Miami Stingrays travel team, she helped lead her team to a third-place finish in the Triple Crown Colorado 4th of July Power Pool.
Alyssa Zabala on Louisville
“I chose Louisville because I loved the campus and loved all the resources and opportunities the school had to offer during and even after my time there.”