With the new year just a few days around the corner, it also means that it’s almost time for another exciting season of Louisville Cardinals baseball. On February 16th, 2018, the Cards will take the field in Charleston, South Carolina to take on the Richmond Spiders as part of The Citadel Tournament, hosted by head coach Dan McDonnell’s alma mater. Before the season gets underway in less than two months, what could we expect to see out of this year’s squad?
Going into his 12th season as head coach of the Cardinal Nine, Dan McDonnell could face one of his toughest coaching tasks to date. Through either graduation or the MLB Draft, the program lost 6 of its 8 starting position players, including arguably the greatest player in program history, Brendan McKay. Leading base-stealer OF Josh Stowers (.313 avg, 6 HR, 34 RBI) and 2B Devin Mann (.268 avg, 8 HR, 44 RBI) are the lone starting position players to make a return to Jim Patterson Stadium. Someone to keep an eye out for this season is new permanent third basemen Justin Lavey. While Lavey only got to see action in 26 games last season due to strictly being a third basemen and being second string behind Drew Ellis, he was able to post a very impressive batting average of .345 in 29 at-bats.
While there will be plenty of new faces at the plate, there will still be plenty of familiar ones to take the mound despite having lost 2017 Golden Spikes Winner Brendan McKay and 2017 Stopper of the Year Lincoln Henzman. Relievers Sam Bordner (who didn’t allow runs in 22 of his 23 appearances) and Adam Wolf (2.18 ERA), as well as freshman sensation SP Nick Bennett will all be making returns to a loaded Cardinals pitching staff. After a stellar offseason as a two-way player in the summer leagues, watch out for Adam Elliott as well.
It’s hard to project how a team will perform after losing so many key components. But after losing a ton of offensive production but a limited amount of pitching prowess as well as one of the most decorated players in college baseball history, I would not be surprised to see this team record double digit losses by the end of the regular season. However, while we could straddle the double digit regular season loss mark, I still fully expect this team to compete for a spot in the NCAA Tournament behind new captains Josh Stowers, Sam Bordner and Adam Wolf. It also helps to have a two-time Coach of the Year as the head coach.
If you’re just as excited as I am about the upcoming season, attending the 2018 Louisville Baseball Lead-Off Dinner is an absolute must. This year’s feature guests will be UofL Alumni and current MLB players Adam Engel (Chicago White Sox) and Kyle McGrath (San Diego Padres), and will take place at the Louisville Marriott Downtown on Friday, January 26th at 7pm. Tickets to the event are listed at $60 per seat with tables of 10 also available for reservation at $600. The deadline for reservation is January 19th, and can be done so here.
Unlike in years past where entry to most games has been free of charge, with the program becoming an elite one in the last decade since Dan McDonnell’s arrival, the 2018 Louisville Cardinals Baseball games will now be ticketed entry. Chairback season tickets are priced at less than $4.50 per game, with Berm season tickets priced at less than $4.00 per game. Individual games will be priced at $10 for chairback seats and $5 for Berm seating. If you are interested in purchasing season tickets for the 2018 season, you can follow this link here.