The Cardinals entered NCAA postseason play ranked among the nation's top five staffs and while the pitching has remained consistent, the team's bats have become red hot. Offensively, the Cardinals have been Through eight games, McDonnell's team is more than doubling the run output by it's opponents, outscoring a trio of the nation's better teams by an average of 9.6 runs to 4.4 per game.
Louisville will need to continue to put the bat on the ball and must have a strong outing from the mound and defensively in game one against traditional power Rice, which is making their sixth College World Series appearance since 1997. The Owls also completed the regular season with one of the nation's top five pitching staffs, holding opponents to just 2.83 runs per game.
Big East Pitcher of the Year, Zach Pitts (10-2; 2.23) of Louisville is scheduled to face recent Philadelphia Phillies first-round selection, Rice junior Joe Savery (10-1; 2.78) on Friday afternoon. In his last outing Pitts, who has thrown a school record 117 innings and limited opposing bats to a .217 average this season, threw seven shutout innings in the Cardinals 9-0 win over Oklahoma State in the Super Regional last Friday.
As evidenced by the 77 total runs scored during NCAA play, the Cardinals are much more than great pitching. The Louisville offense, which finished the regular season among the top 35 in batting, has established a number of school records this spring.
Senior outfielder Isaiah Howes leads the Cardinals with a scorching .392 average and is tops on the team in hits (104), home runs (18), RBI's (67) and slugging percentage (.691). Fellow seniors Boomer Whiting, who leads the country and established a new school mark with 73 stolen bases this season, Logan Johnson and Daniel Burton, along with junior Jorge Castillo, also hit better than .300.
Friday's contest between Louisville and Rice, which will be the home team, will be broadcast nationally on ESPN2.