The Louisville baseball team was slotted at No. 2 in the 2016 D1Baseball.com Preseason Top 25 released on Tuesday. It is the second No. 2 preseason ranking for the Cardinals, who were also positioned in that spot in the Collegiate Baseball newspaper poll last month.
The No. 2 ranking is the highest preseason ranking in school history and two positions better than Louisville’s previous preseason high of No. 4 by Baseball America during the program’s 2013 College World Series season. The No. 2 ranking equals the best overall ranking in school history matching the high point last season when the Cardinals were second in the nation on May 4, 2015 in the D1Baseball.com and the National Collegiate Baseball Writers Association polls and again on May 11, 2015 in the D1Baseball.com, NCBWA, USA Today & Perfect Game polls.
Landing at No. 1 in the D1Baseball.com Top 25 was Florida, which was also in the top spot in the Collegiate Baseball poll. Following the No. 2 Cardinals in the D1Baseball.com rankings were No. 3 Vanderbilt, No. 4 Texas A&M and No. 5 Oregon State. Louisville is the highest ranked program among six ACC teams and is joined by No. 6 Miami, No. 10 NC State, No. 13 Virginia, No. 16 North Carolina and No. 20 Florida 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 No. 2 Cardinals are scheduled to open the 2016 season on Feb. 19 at Jim Patterson Stadium in the first game of a weekend series at home against SIU Edwardsville.
ABOUT LOUISVILLE BASEBALL IN 2016
The Cardinals return an experienced, talented and deep roster of players from last year’s record-setting club, which won the ACC Atlantic Division title with the most league wins in conference history (25-5 record) and advanced to an NCAA Super Regional for the third straight season. Louisville returns more than 75 percent of its pitching starts from 2015, anchored by the 1-2 All-American punch of senior righty Kyle Funkhouser and sophomore lefty Brendan McKay. The pitching staff also returns 83 percent of its relief innings, including Burdi, talented junior lefty Drew Harrington and Freshman All-Americans Lincoln Henzman and Sean Leland.
Offensively, the Cardinals return seven players who started 30 or more games last season, including the top three hitters in junior outfielder and All-American Corey Ray, Solak and McKay, the reigning John Olerud Two-Way Player of the Year. Collectively, Louisville returns 78 percent of its runs driven in, 73 percent of its extra-base hits, 72 percent of its total hits and 70 percent of its runs scored from the 2015 team.
In his nine seasons guiding the Louisville baseball program, head coach Dan McDonnell has placed the Cardinals among the nation’s elite with three College World Series berths, five NCAA Super Regional appearances, eight NCAA Regional bids, six conference regular season titles, two conference tournament titles, 22 All-Americans and 406 wins overall (sixth most nationally during that nine-year span).
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