Junior righthanded pitcher Zack Burdi, junior catcher Will Smith and junior infielder Nick Solak have been chosen by Louisville players and coaches as team captains for the Cardinals baseball team in 2016.
Burdi (Downers Grove, Ill.) was a Third Team Louisville Slugger All-American and All-ACC First Team selection last season while 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.
Smith started 47 games behind the plate in 2015 hitting .242 with two home runs and 15 RBI. The Louisville native and Kentucky Country Day product’s first collegiate home run was a game-winning solo shot in the eighth inning of the Cardinals’ series-clinching victory over Florida State on May 10. Overall, Smith has made 68 starts and played in 96 games through his first two seasons at UofL.
Solak (Woodridge, Ill.) emerged as one of Louisville’s top offensive players in 2015 hitting .324 with three home runs, 40 RBI, 15 doubles and 18 stolen bases while starting all 65 games. Hitting in the No. 2 spot in the Cardinals lineup throughout the season, Solak was named to the NCAA Louisville Regional All-Tournament Team, the ACC Championship All-Tournament Team and was an All-ACC Academic Team selection.
The Cardinals are slated 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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