With the first official practice of the 2016 season just four days away, the Louisville baseball team received another high preseason ranking Monday as Baseball America placed the Cardinals at No. 2 in its preseason Top 25. It marked the fourth No. 2 preseason ranking for Louisville, which is also second in the Collegiate Baseball newspaper poll, D1Baseball.com Top 25 and Perfect Game Top 25.
The No. 2 rankings stand as the highest preseason ranking in program history for the Cardinals, two positions better than their previous preseason high of No. 4 by Baseball America during the 2013 College World Series season. The No. 2 ranking also equals the best overall ranking in school history matching the high point last season when Louisville was second in the nation in back-to-back weeks on May 4(D1Baseball.com and National Collegiate Baseball Writers Association) and May 11 (D1Baseball.com, NCBWA, USA Today & Perfect Game).
Landing in the No. 1 position in the Baseball America Top 25 was Florida, which was also in the top spot in each of the previous three polls. Following the No. 2 Cardinals in the Baseball America rankings were No. 3 Texas A&M, No. 4 Virginia and No. 5 Oregon State. Louisville leads five ACC schools in the Baseball America Top 25, including three in the top 10 with the reigning NCAA champion Cavaliers at No. 4 and Miami at No. 6. They are joined by No. 17 Florida State and No. 19 NC State.
The Cardinals have received a preseason top 10 ranking in four straight seasons (2013, 2014, 2015, 2016) and have earned a preseason national ranking in nine straight seasons (2008-2016) overall. Monday’s ranking extends a record-setting run for the Louisville baseball program, which has 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.
The second-ranked Cardinals are scheduled to open the 2016 season on Feb. 19 at 3 p.m., ET at Jim Patterson Stadium in the first game of a weekend series at home against SIU Edwardsville.
2016 BASEBALL AMERICA PRESEASON TOP 25
- Texas A&M
- Oregon State
- Oklahoma State
- Florida State
- NC State
- Mississippi State
- Cal State Fullerton
- Coastal Carolina
- Ole Miss
D1Baseball Names Five Cardinals Preseason All-Americans
Five players from the Louisville baseball team received D1Baseball.com Preseason All-America recognition on Monday, including a trio of first team selections in sophomore pitcher/first baseman Brendan McKay, junior outfielder Corey Ray and junior infielder Nick Solak.
That group was joined by junior pitcher Zack Burdi and senior pitcher Kyle Funkhouser, who were tabbed as second team honorees. Louisville and Florida led the way among all schools with three first team selections and five total selections each.
McKay (Darlington, Pa.) was tabbed last season as the John Olerud Two-Way Player of the Year and was named national Freshman of the Year by Baseball America, D1Baseball, Collegiate Baseball newspaper and Perfect Game. He was also chosen as a First Team All-American by Baseball America, D1Baseball, the NCBWA and Perfect Game, was named as the ACC Freshman of the Year and was an All-ACC First Team selection. A member of the USA Collegiate National Team over the summer, McKay had a 9-3 record with a 1.77 ERA and 117 strikeouts in 96.2 innings and 20 appearances on the mound for the Cardinals, including 13 straight weekend starts, while also hitting .308 with four home runs, 34 RBI, 38 walks and 32 runs scored in 58 starts as a hitter.
Ray (Chicago, Ill.) earned Second Team All-America honors last season from Baseball America and the NCBWA and was a Third Team All-America selection by D1Baseball after hitting .325 with 11 home runs, 56 RBI, 15 doubles, five triples and 34 stolen bases while starting all 65 games in the outfield. A standout performer over the summer with the USA Collegiate National Team, Ray was also an All-ACC First Team honoree during his sophomore season in 2015.
Solak (Woodridge, Ill.) emerged last season as one of the key components in the Louisville lineup hitting .324 with three home runs, 40 RBI, 15 doubles, 18 stolen bases and 47 runs scored. Holding down the No. 2 spot for the Cardinals in all 65 games in 2015, Solak was named to the NCAA Louisville Regional All-Tournament Team and the ACC Championship All-Tournament Team before earning Cape Cod League All-Star accolades during his summer.
Last season, Burdi (Downers Grove, Ill.) was a Third Team Louisville Slugger All-American and an All-ACC First Team selection earning a 6-1 record with nine saves and a 0.92 ERA in 20 relief appearances. A member of the 2015 USA Baseball Collegiate National Team, Burdi finished with 30 strikeouts and issued just eight walks in 29.1 innings of work on the mound for Louisville during his sophomore season.
Funkhouser (Oak Forest, Ill.) ranks second in career wins with his 26-9 collegiate record, including an 8-5 mark and 104 strikeouts in 17 starts and 112.1 innings pitched in 2015. An All-America honoree during both his sophomore and junior seasons, Funkhouser has a 2.47 career ERA with the Cardinals and ranks second in career strikeouts with 281, fourth in career starts with 41 and sixth in career innings pitched at 287.1. In June, Funkhouser was chosen in the first round of the Major League Baseball First-Year Player Draft but elected to return to Louisville for his senior season with the Cardinals.
The preseason No. 2-ranked Cardinals are slated to open the 2016 season on Friday, Feb. 19 at 3 p.m., ET at Jim Patterson Stadium in the first game of a weekend series at home against SIU Edwardsville.
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