Dec. 20, 2013
LOUISVILLE, Ky. - The first preseason national poll was released on Friday and the Louisville baseball team will open 2014 in the same position it ended the 2013 season as the Cardinals were tabbed at No. 8 by Collegiate Baseball newspaper.
After closing their record-setting 2013 season at the College World Series and earning a No. 8 national ranking in multiple national polls, the Cardinals will enter 2014 in familiar fashion. Friday's national ranking marked the second straight year Louisville will enter the season with a Top 10 preseason national ranking after Baseball America pegged the Cardinals at No. 4 entering 2013.
Cal State Fullerton sits atop the Collegiate Baseball preseason Fabulous 40 and is followed by No. 2 Mississippi State, No. 3 LSU, No. 4 Oregon State and No. 5 Florida State. The Cardinals are the only American Athletic Conference squad in the Top 40, while 2014 opponents Indiana (No. 7) and Vanderbilt (No. 9) join Louisville in the Top 10.
Led by eighth year head coach Dan McDonnell, Louisville returns 19 letterwinners from last year's squad, which won a school record 51 games, the program's fourth regular season conference title in five seasons and hosted NCAA postseason games for the fourth time. The Cardinals capped the season by defeating No. 2 national seed Vanderbilt in the Nashville Super Regional to clinch the program's second College World Series berth.
Among the top returnees for Louisville for the 2014 season are senior captains and All-Conference standouts Jeff Gardner and Cole Sturgeon, junior righty pitcher and All-American Nick Burdi, All-Conference shortstop Sutton Whiting, senior catching duo Shane Crain and Kyle Gibson and Freshman All-American pitchers Kyle Funkhouser and Anthony Kidston. A strong group of experienced upperclassmen including the likes of infielders Alex Chittenden, Zach Lucas and Danny Rosenbaum, outfielder Mike White and pitchers Jared Ruxer, Kyle McGrath and Joe Filomeno are joined by a deep and talented set of newcomers setting the stage for an entertaining season on the diamond for the Cardinals.
In his seven seasons at Louisville, McDonnell has won more than 300 games while leading the Cardinals to two College World Series appearances, four regular season conference championships and two conference tournament titles. Overall, Louisville ranks ninth in the nation in wins over the last seven seasons with 309 for an average of more than 44 wins per campaign. The Cardinals have also produced 13 All-Americans, 44 all-conference selections and six conference player/pitcher of the year winners during that span while 26 Louisville players have signed professional contracts after being selected in the Major League Baseball Draft.
Louisville will open the 2014 schedule on Feb. 14-16 in Charleston, S.C., at the Homewood Suites Tournament hosted by The Citadel, while the Cardinals' home-opener is set for Feb. 19 at 3 p.m., ET at Jim Patterson Stadium against Eastern Kentucky.