Jan. 27, 2011
LOUISVILLE, Ky. -
The University of Louisville earned its second preseason top 25 ranking on Thursday as the Cardinals opened at No. 21 in the USA Today/ESPN preseason coaches' poll.
Louisville was No. 20 in the Collegiate Baseball newspaper's preseason poll released last month, but the Cardinals were not ranked in the Baseball America preseason poll also released on Thursday. The final major preseason poll, the National Collegiate Baseball Writers Association Preseason Top 35, is expected to be released next week.
The Cardinals were joined by Connecticut (No. 22) as the only BIG EAST Conference teams ranked in the preseason coaches' poll. Future BIG EAST member TCU earned the No. 2 ranking, while Vanderbilt, which will visit Louisville and Jim Patterson Stadium on May 10, was No. 4 in the coaches' poll.
Last season, the Cardinals won their second straight BIG EAST regular season championship, finished with a school record 50 wins and earned the program's first ever selection as a national seed for the NCAA Championship. Louisville also hosted an NCAA Regional at Jim Patterson Stadium for the second straight season and closed last season ranked as high at No. 16 overall.
Despite the departure of six seniors to graduation and six juniors to the Major League Baseball Draft, expectations remain high for the Louisville baseball program in 2011. The Cardinals return All-American junior second baseman Ryan Wright, All-BIG EAST junior outfielder Stewart Ijames and experienced position players in senior catcher J.J. Ethel and senior outfielder Drew Haynes.
On the mound, Louisville is led by preseason All-American righty Tony Zych. Other returnees for the Cardinals' pitching staff include senior righty Gabriel Shaw, junior righty Derek Self, sophomore righties Justin Amlung, Matt Koch, Mike Nastold, Andy Flett and Curtis McCombs and sophomore lefty Keith Landers. Louisville also welcomes a talented group of 14 newcomers, which includes a balanced mix of pitching, fielding and offense.
In his four seasons as the Cardinals' head coach, Dan McDonnell
has led Louisville to impressive heights, including its first ever College World Series appearance in 2007, four consecutive 40-win seasons, 185 wins overall and a school record four straight NCAA Championship appearances. Louisville has also hosted NCAA post-season games in three of the last four seasons.
Louisville will open the 2011 season at the BIG EAST/Big Ten Challenge in St. Petersburg, Fla., on Feb. 18-20. The Cardinals' home schedule will begin with a three-game series against Toledo on Feb. 25-27 at Jim Patterson Stadium.