The only program in the country to advance to an NCAA Super Regional in each of the last four seasons, the University of Louisville baseball team will enter the 2017 season in a similar position on the national landscape after receiving a No. 11 ranking in the Collegiate Baseball preseason poll released Tuesday.
Tuesday’s ranking extends a record-setting run for the Cardinals, who have remained ranked in at least one major national poll every week since the release of the 2012 preseason rankings — the longest such stretch in school history. Louisville has also been ranked in a national preseason poll for 10 consecutive seasons (2008-2017).
Sitting atop the Collegiate Baseball newspaper preseason poll is No. 1 TCU, while No. 2 LSU, No. 3 Florida, No. 4 South Carolina and No. 5 Oregon State round out the top five. Louisville is among eight ACC programs in the Collegiate Baseball Top 40 – No. 8 Miami, No. 9 Florida State, No. 12 Clemson, No. 15 North Carolina, No. 16 Virginia, No. 31 NC State and No. 38 Georgia Tech.
The No. 11 Cardinals are scheduled to open the 2017 season on Feb. 17-19 in Clearwater, Florida with a trio of games at Bright House Field. Louisville will face Alabama State on Feb. 17 at 3 p.m., ET, Maryland on Feb. 18 at 6 p.m., and Ball State on Feb. 19 at 1 p.m.
LOUISVILLE BASEBALL IN 2017
The Cardinals return a trio of All-Americans and 19 total letterwinners from last year’s team, which won its second straight ACC Atlantic Division championship, advanced to its fourth straight NCAA Super Regional and reached the 50-win plateau for the fourth time in school history. Two-time John Olerud Two-Way Player of the Year and two-time First Team All-American Brendan McKay returns for his junior season after finishing with a 12-4 record, 2.30 ERA and 128 strikeouts on the mound and a .333 batting average, six home runs, 19 doubles and 41 RBI at the plate last season.
Junior righthander Kade McClure, an All-American selection by the NCBWA and Perfect Game in 2016, is expected to give the Cardinals a 1-2 All-American punch in their weekend rotation after closing his sophomore season with a 12-0 record, 2.54 ERA and 77 strikeouts 13 starts and 15 total appearances. Joining McKay in the Louisville lineup is junior shortstop Devin Hairston, who hit .361 with three home runs, 16 doubles and 45 RBI while earning ABCA Third Team All-America honors last season.
In 10 seasons guiding the Louisville baseball program, head coach Dan McDonnell has placed the Cardinals among the nation’s elite programs with three College World Series berths, six NCAA Super Regional appearances, nine NCAA Regional bids, seven regular season conference championships, two conference tournament titles, 29 All-Americans and 456 wins overall.