The start of the 2015 college baseball season is nearly here and the top ten ranked University of Louisville is gearing up for a third consecutive run for the College World Series.
Ranked as high as No.7 in the preseason polls, the Cardinals will open their season on Friday against Alabama State in the three-day Clearwater Tournament that will also include contests against South Florida and nationally-ranked Cal State Fullerton.
Here's five things to know as the season draws near...
The Cardinals return the entire starting rotation from last season's NCAA Regional sweep, with All-American junior Kyle Funkhouser serving as the team's ace.
Funkhouser, who finished 13-3 with a 1.94 ERA and 122 strikeouts in 2014, will be the Friday starter for the Cardinals this season. The righty has received multiple preseason All-American accolades, including first team honors from Baseball America, Collegiate Baseball newspaper, the NCBWA and Perfect Game.
Fellow junior Anthony Kidston, a Louisville Slugger Freshman All-American in 2013, will get the nod on Saturdays. Kidston, who is 14-1 through two seasons at U of L, finished 9-1 with 3.40 ERA and 69 strikeouts in 2014.
Sophomore lefty Josh Rogers will receive the Sunday start. Rogers pitched started and three six innings in the clinching win over Kentucky in last year's Regional to secure a spot for the Cardinals into the Super Regional.
Drew Harrington, who appeared in 21 games as a freshman in 2014, will serve as the mid-week starter and potential weekend relief.
“He wants to start on the weekend like they all do, but you're talking a power left-handed arm with experience that is very durable,” McDonnell said of the sophomore. “He's a tough kid with an opportunity to help us win not just one game during the week, but maybe two or three depending on how we use him.”
Here's a quick glace at the projected position starters:
|C||30|| Will Smith
|-or-||42|| Colby Fitch
|1B||8|| Danny Rosenbaum
|2B||17|| Nick Solak
|SS||1|| Sutton Whiting
|LF||2|| Corey Ray
|CF||24|| Logan Taylor
|RF||35|| Colin Lyman
Senior infielders Zach Lucas and Sutton Whiting and junior righty Anthony Kidston were chosen by their fellow teammates and the coaching staff to serve as team captains in 2015.
Lucas, a Louisville native, was a third team All-Conference selection last season after hitting .270 with five home runs and 44 RBI. Whiting finished in the top five nationally with 37 stolen bases and was selected to the NCAA Louisville Regional All-Tournament team in 2014.
Kidston, a native of Defiance, Ohio, has lost just one game during his time at Louisville, compiling a career mark of 14-1 with an overall ERA of 2.60 and 127 strikeouts.
Lucas and Whiting also served as captains in 2014.
Increased Television Coverage
The University of Louisville baseball team has 22 regular season games slated for national and regional television coverage in 2015 as part of the Atlantic Coast Conference TV schedule released on Monday.
The Cardinals will make two appearances on ESPNU for “ACC Monday” matchups at Virginia on April 6 and at Clemson on May 4. Louisville will have 18 regular season games televised on ESPN3, including 16 at Jim Patterson Stadium. Additionally, the Cardinals will have two road games televised by the Regional Sports Network – May 2 at Clemson and May 16 at NC State.
Each of the first 14 games of the ACC Championship on May 19-23 in Durham, N.C., will be televised by the Regional Sports Network, while the ACC Championship title game on May 24 at 1 p.m., ET will be carried by ESPN2. All of Louisville’s remaining 17 home games not selected for national or regional television will be available for viewing through CardsTV at GoCards.com.
After opening the season on the road at the three-day Clearwater Tournament, the Cardinals return home for the Jim Patterson Stadium opener on Wednesday, Feb. 18 against in-state foe Eastern Kentucky.
The game against the Colonels will begin a homestand that will have Louisville hosting 17 of the next 18 games in the friendly confines.