Jan. 25, 2013
Video Interview: Coach Dan ~nbsp>McDonnell Prior to the Cardinals' First Practice of 2013
LOUISVILLE, Ky. - The fourth-ranked Louisville baseball team kicked off its preparations for the 2013 season with the first day of official practice on Friday afternoon.
"As soon you get eliminated the year before, and we lost to Arizona in the regional final, you meet with the team and you start working," said Cardinals' head coach Dan McDonnell on Friday. "You have summer baseball, the fall, all of the workouts, the early morning running - this has been a work in progress since last June. These guys are anxious and ready to get out there and represent this university in seeing what they can do as a team."
After Friday's first full-squad practice session, Louisville is tentatively scheduled to scrimmage on Saturday at 1 p.m., ET at Jim Patterson Stadium and again on Sunday at noon. A reminder to fans that due to ongoing expansion construction at Jim Patterson Stadium, there will be no access to the primary seating areas in the ballpark this weekend.
With the program's highest ranking in school history at No. 4 in the Baseball America Preseason Top 25 released on Thursday, the Cardinals return 21 letterwinners from the 2012 team, which finished 41-22 and advanced to an NCAA Regional for the fifth time in six seasons. In his six previous seasons leading the Cardinals, McDonnell is 258-122 with three BIG EAST regular-season titles, two BIG EAST Tournament titles, two NCAA Super Regional appearances and one College World Series berth.
"The preseason ranking says a lot about our past players and what they've done and the success they've had," said McDonnell. "But ultimately, it says a lot about the current players and the success they've had in college baseball and what the rest of the country thinks of our program."
Selected as the BIG EAST Conference favorite by the league's head coaches, Louisville won its third BIG EAST regular season title in the last four seasons in 2012. The Cardinals are led in 2013 by the return of seven of its school record 10 All-BIG EAST performers from last season, including second team outfielders Adam Engel
and Cole Sturgeon
. Most of Louisville's pitching staff returns for 2013, led by All-BIG EAST right-hander Jeff Thompson
as well as BIG EAST Rookie of the Year and Freshman All-American righty Jared Ruxer
"We want to have a Top 20 program year-in and year-out and we want to get to Omaha and win a national championship," McDonnell said. "Those in the world of college baseball know how difficult that is. The goal is to always be on the doorstep of Omaha and in special years, bust through and give yourself a chance to win that national championship. Right now, being that we're an older club and an experienced club with guys that have had a lot of success, everybody is expecting this to be one of those special years."
Just three weeks from Friday's first official practice, Louisville will open the 2013 season on Feb. 15 against Indiana (7:30 p.m., ET) in Dunedin, Fla., at the BIG EAST/Big Ten Challenge. The Cardinals' 36-game home slate at the newly expanded Jim Patterson Stadium is set to open on Wednesday, Feb. 20 at 3 p.m., ET against Eastern Kentucky.
Fans can follow Louisville baseball on Twitter at http://twitter.com/uoflbaseball and on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/ulbaseball.