On the same day that multiple publications placed the University of Louisville baseball program in their preseason Top 25 polls, head coach Dan McDonnell sat down with Cardinal Authority to discuss the upcoming 2014 season.
It has been more than 7 months since the Cardinals last played. A disappointing loss to No. 3 Oregon State that ended U of L's participation in the 2013 College World Series. The early departure from Omaha last June has served as motivation for the latest group of Cardinals. The goals appear clear. Win the AAC championship and make a return trip to Omaha.
The team has worked both as a group and individually during the off season.
“We've worked hard at every thing that we've been able to do in the Hack Shack and in the Trager,” said McDonnell. “The kids are working hard, that's definitely been a positive.”
As his team begins preparations for the quickly approaching season, McDonnell has the comfort of a veteran filled squad. He and his staff have also recruited well and have a strong group of newcomers that will not only fill needs, but also provide competition around the diamond.
While impressed with his freshman class, McDonnell feels that he won't need to “lean on them to much, or throw them to the fire.” With 19 letter-winners returning, the Cardinals skipper has a solid group of experienced veterans that he will turn to in 2014.
One newcomer will be expected to contribute immediately. Despite his eventual position still to be determined, Iowa Western Community College transfer Grant Kay will have a spot on the field. Kay, an Omaha, Neb., native, also has an active bat that McDonnell wants in the every day lineup to help fill the void at the top of the lineup.
Junior infielder Sutton Whiting is currently projected as the lead off hitter.
Junior reliever Nick Burdi has received multiple preseason accolades, including 1st Team All-American. McDonnell credits Burdi's self-motivation and pitching coach Roger Williams for his continued improvement.
Below is a portion of Cardinal Authority's visit with McDonnell. He begins with his thoughts on his team following their first outdoor scrimmage on Sunday.