Hosting an NCAA Regional for a fifth straight time, Louisville, the No. 7 national seed, welcomes Oklahoma, Xavier and Radford to Jim Patterson Stadium for double-elimination opportunity to advance to the Super Regional round.
The Cardinals will open on Friday at 6p.m. against Regional four-seed Radford, which received an automatic bid after winning the Big South Conference tournament.
"We address a few things throughout the week - who likes to run, who likes to bunt, who likes to steal and little things like that - but, we physically don't go through a scouting report until hours before the game with the players," McDonnell said, adding that the point is to emphasize the players "keep it about themselves. Do what you do well and play the game the way we play here at the University of Louisville and if its good enough, great, if not, so be it."
For the U of L seniors, it is the final attempt to help the program return to the College World Series - an experience they enjoyed as freshmen in 2014.
"We'd love to get there," senior centerfielder Logan Taylor said of the CWS. "We have to take care of our Regional and Radford first, so our minds are more on them than what else lies ahead."
Kade McClure (7-3, 3.24) will make the start against Radford.
After finishing the the regular season with three consecutive losses - a road trip to Indiana and a pair at home to Florida State - the Cardinals managed just a 1-1 outing at the ACC Baseball Championship, where they also lost to the Seminoles in pool play.
Instead of worrying about the cause for the late-season slide, the Cardinals have conducted what McDonnell labeled as a "reboot week." The focus was on working on the little things - base running, fielding, bunting and other situational items. The purpose was to improve, relax and have fun as the NCAA postseason approached.
"We try to hit everything to prepare these guys to be at their best," McDonnell said. "Be confident, feel good about themselves and have fun. It was a spirited practice today. Guys were really loose and having a good time and that's how I want them to be. I want them to relax, have fun and play the game."
Player of the Year
The first of what is likely to be multiple Player of the Year honors for two-way star Brendan McKay,Collegiate Baseball Newspaper selected the Cardinals junior for their award announced on Thursday.
The Darlington, Penn., native becomes the program's first National Player of the Year.
Also chosen as the ACC Player of the Year, he's currently hitting .363, with 17 home runs, 52 RBI, .705 slugging percentage and .481 on-base percentage. On the mound, McKay owns a 9-3 record with a 2.37 ERA and 124 strikeouts in 91.0 innings.
A two-time John Olerud Two-Way Player of the Year, McKay is once again a finalist for that award.
Collegiate Baseball also selected McKay as a First Team All-American as a utility player. The newspaper also tabbed third baseman Drew Ellis and closer Lincoln Henzman as First Team All-Americans.
Ellis leads the Cardinals with a .376 batting average to go with 17 home runs, 18 doubles, 53 RBI, .728 slugging percentage and .467 on-base percentage.
Henzman leads the nation with 16 saves. He's 2-0 overall, with a 1.41 ERA and 32 strikeouts in 32.0 innings pitched and 23 total relief appearances.
Following Louisville's loss to Florida State in the ACC Baseball Championship, two-way player Brendan McKay eluded that thoughts of the upcoming Major League Baseball Draft was causing a distraction for some on the team. With a roster featuring multiple players expected to be selected in the draft, McKay, a possible No. 1 pick, challenged his teammates to focus on the task at hand.
"If anyone can challenge you about focus and the draft, I think its the guy who could be the first pick in the draft" McDonnell said. "It's showing his commitment to the team."
For U of L, dealing with the distraction of the MLB Draft during its postseason journey has become an annual thing and something that McDonnell believes his players, especially those now draft eligible are "used to."
"It is something that we embrace as a team.
Oklahoma: The Sooners enter the postseason at 34-22 overall. The Sooners won five top-25 RPI series; the most of any school in the country this season. Oklahoma is 79-69 in its 36 previous trips to the NCAA postseason. It has reached the College World Series 10 times, winning it twice - most recently in 1994.
Xavier: The only team in the Regional that has a series history with Louisville. Xavier is the Regional three-seed and will face Oklahoma in its opener. Louisville holds a 37-20 series lead and has won 9 of the last 10 meetings, with the most recent a 13-4 win on March 15. The Musketeers are 32-25 and earned an automatic bid by winning the Big East Conference tournament.
Radford: The Big South tournament champions, the Highlanders have a 2-6 record against common opponents with Louisville. Radford went 0-3 vs North Carolina, 0-2 against Wake Forest and took two of three against Northern Kentucky. It is the second time in three years that Radford has made the NCAA postseason.
2017 NCAA Baseball Louisville Regional Schedule
Friday, June 2 | (TV: ESPN3)
Game 1: No. 2 Oklahoma vs. No. 3 Xavier - 2 p.m.
Game 2: No. 1 Louisville vs. No. 4 Radford - 6 p.m.
Saturday, June 3 | (TV: ESPN3)
Game 3: Game 1 Loser vs. Game 2 Loser - Noon
Game 4: Game 1 Winner vs. Game 2 Winner – 7 p.m.
Sunday, June 4 | (TV: ESPN3)
Game 5: Game 3 Winner vs. Game 4 Loser - 1 p.m.
Game 6: Game 5 Winner vs. Game 4 Winner - 7 p.m.
Monday, June 5 | (TV: ESPN3) - If necessary
Game 7: Game 6 Loser vs. Game 6 Winner - 7 p.m.
All times are Eastern Daylight Savings