The Cardinals return seven position starters from last season and enter 2010 ranked in the top 20 in every major preseason poll. Louisville is also the preseason favorite to win its second straight BIG EAST Conference title after sweeping BIG EAST regular season and tournament titles in 2009. The Cards finished 2009 ranked 15th overall after advancing to their second NCAA Super Regional in three seasons and had a 47-18 record overall.
The Cardinals' lineup will include a lot of explosive experience with junior 3B Phil Wunderlich (.367 avg., 18 HR, 78 RBI), senior 1B Andrew Clark (.350 avg., 9 HR, 55 RBI), sophomore SS Ryan Wright (.335 avg., 5 HR, 66 RBI), senior 2B Adam Duvall (.328 avg., 11 HR, 51 RBI) and junior OF Josh Richmond (.307 avg., 7 HR, 31 RBI) as well as senior catcher Jeff Arnold, junior OF Drew Haynes and redshirt sophomore OF Stewart Ijames.
Head coach Dan McDonnell also welcomes back an experienced and talented pitching staff, led by junior righty Thomas Royse (3-2, 3.48 ERA), who will get the starting nod in the season-opener on Friday. Junior lefty Dean Kiekhefer (6-5, 5.00) will start game two, while sophomore righty Tony Zych (6-2, 3.25) will start on Sunday.
In McDonnell's three seasons in Louisville, the Cardinals have made three straight NCAA appearances overall, two NCAA Super Regional appearances and one College World Series appearance. Louisville also ranks sixth nationally with 135 wins over the last three seasons for an average of 45 victories per year.
Under the guidance of head coach Danny Schmitz, Bowling Green enters the 2010 season as the preseason favorite to win its second straight Mid-American Conference regular-season championship. Led by reigning MAC Pitcher of the Year Brennan Smith (junior righty), who is scheduled to earn Friday's starting nod against Royse, the Falcons finished 28-22 overall in 2009 before falling in the MAC Tournament. Offensively, the Falcons are led by senior 3B Derek Spencer (.385 avg., 15 HR, 59 RBI), who is expected to contend for MAC Player of the Year honors in 2010.
Last season, the Cardinals earned a three-game sweep over the Falcons with wins of 15-6, 8-5 and 9-2 on Feb. 27-March 1 at Jim Patterson Stadium.
Following the season-opening series against Bowling Green, the Cardinals will close their homestand with a midweek game against Morehead State on Tuesday at 2 p.m. ET at Jim Patterson Stadium.
Friday Fish Fry at Patterson Stadium
Louisville baseball will host its first Friday Fish Fry during the season-opener against Bowling Green. The Friday Fish Fry menu will include fried fish, French fries, cole slaw, hush puppies and rye bread for $6.50. The Cardinals will host a total of Friday Fish Fries during the traditional Lenten season including Feb. 19 (Bowling Green), March 5 (Le Moyne), March 19 (Ball State), March 26 (UConn) and April 2 (Villanova).