For the fourth time in eight years the University of Louisville has reached a Super Regional in college baseball's tournament to determine a national champion and for just the second time in school history will host the final stage before reaching Omaha.
The 4th-ranked Cardinals, which are attempting to reach the College World Series for a second consecutive season, welcome No. 12 Kennesaw State to Jim Patterson Stadium for a best-of-three series that begins Friday night at 6:30 p.m.
The Owls are a surprise opponent for the Cardinals in the Super Regional. A three seed in the Tallahassee Regional last weekend, Kennesaw State upset Alabama in the regional final to reach the program's first Super Regional. The Cardinals preperation and respect for their opponent remains unchanged.
"There's definatley a lot of respect for our opponents," said McDonnell. "We watch game film, we talk to other coaches, we get as much information as we can to pick up tendancies. It's important for our hitters to know what their pitchers like to do. It's important for Coach Williams, the pitching staff, as well as the defense, to know what the hitters do, how we'll pitch them, where we'll shift our defenses, but at the end of the day you have to go back to your strengths. You have to do what you do well."
The Owls, who have won 26 of their last 28 contests, have one of the nation's best behind the plate. Catcher Max Pentecost is a First Team All-American and was an early first round draft pick on Thursday evening. His .423 batting average is second in the nation. As a team, Kennesaw State enters the weekend ranked among the nation's top 20 in team batting average.
Louisville will counter the Owls bats with a pitching staff that are a combined 24-5, including Friday starter Kyle Funkhouser, with Anothony Kidston slated for Saturday and Josh Rogers scheduled to take the mound on Sunday if the series reaches the third day.
It's a great feeling being able to pitch at home," said Funkhouser, who boasts a 13-2 record. "It's the same though, whether you are at home or on the road, you just take it one pitch at a time and just do your thing out there."
All three contests will be broadcast nationally, with ESPNU televising the first two games, with ESPN2 airing the Sunday's potential game.