Here's a notebook as Louisville prepares to participate in the program's fourth College World Series.
Enjoying the Draft
Louisville All-American Brendan McKay became the highest-ever drafted player from the program on Monday evening when the Tampa Rays selected him with the No. 4 overall pick.
Watching the draft in the Omaha Room with his teammates, coaches and family members, McKay learned of the eventual pick just moments before it was announced by the league commissioner. While he had the heads up, it didn't change the impact when that moment came.
"That moment when you finally see the pick come in and hear your name called, its kind of a relief and you can't move at that moment," McKay said. "You're kind of like, 'wow, it finally happened,' and then you get that emotion."
McKay, who will have the opportunity to play first base and pitch professionally, was joined by teammate Drew Ellis as a first day selection.
Ellis was selected early in the second-round by the Arizona Diamondbacks with the No. 44 overall pick to make him the fifth highest draft pick in program history.
Describing it as an "awesome" experience, Ellis was also surrounded by his team and family when the pick came in.
"I think everybody is happy for the person who gets his name called. Part of why you come here is to play professionally and to continue your career at the next level, so to have this experience, to have this opportunity, in front of my teammates and family was awesome."
Cardinals leading MLB Draft
On Tuesday, closer Lincoln Henzman, shortstop Devin Hairston and pitcher Kade McClure were each taken the in MLB Draft.
Henzman was No. 117 overall by the Chicago White Sox, while Hairston was chosen by the Milwaukee Brewers with the 174th overall pick. The White Sox added another Cardinal by taking McClure with the 177th selection.
With the three additional players selected in the draft on Tuesday, U of L tops all programs with the most selections with a total of five.
The team was back at practice on Tuesday, preparing for a weekend series as if it was a normal week during the schedule. While there are off-the-field distractions, such the MLB Draft and increased media requests, the goal is for the team to "stick to the process" that has helped them reach his point.
"The kids know that I love practice, but this is definitely the best week of the year to be practicing and getting ready to take our show on the road," McDonnell said.
For this squad, the fourth at U of L to reach Omaha, it means remaining loose around the clubhouse and on the practice field.
"You just have to go with the pulse of your team," McDonnell said, adding that "this group is pretty loose. It's a funny group and they have a lot of personality, but when it comes time to take care of business they lock in and take care of business."
This will be the fifth trip to Omaha for the Cardinals head coach, once as a player at The Citadel and three times leading the U of L program, and he hopes to use those prior trips to guide his current crop.
"You hope that the experience prepares you to lead these kids there."
Dan McDonnell mixed his starting rotation up a bit during the NCAA post season, giving the ball to junior Kade McClure to open both the Regional and Super Regional, with National Player of the Year Brendan McKay, the season's key ace, moving to the second game of each series.
The shift worked, helping the Cardinals reach a five-game win streak heading to Omaha.
However, McDonnell wants to get through the week and gain a better idea of the upcoming opponents before setting his rotation for the College World Series.
"There's no secrets who we'll probably turn to, but there's no reason on jumping the gun," McDonnell said. "Let's get through the week of practice and see how everybody performs and they feel. Make sure we get enough scouting reports on the three teams in our bracket."
McDonnell goes Blonde
Prior to the start of NCAA Regional play, the players on the Cardinals roster chose to give themselves a bit of new look as a sign of unity. New hair styles were the avenue of choice - from red mohawks, cornrows, blonde dye and mullets - each player underwent some sort of change.
After sweeping through both Regional and Super Regional play, head coach Dan McDonnell made the decision to join his players and made a visit to a local salon since the completion of the two-game sweep against rival Kentucky.
McDonnell's choice of new look? It's a blonde top for the College World Series
Louisville will begin play on Sunday at 2pm (ET) vs Texas A&M. The winner advances to play on Tuesday at 7pm, while the loser will play on Tuesday at 2pm.
(**note bracket lists time in central zone)