Around the Bases: Week One

Mid-February is here, and that means the Louisville baseball team is just two days away from the start of another season. The Cards kick off 2019 with a neutral site series in Lakeland, FL, taking on a UConn team that has aspirations of a possible run in the NCAA Tournament.

The Cards enter the 2019 season looking to bounce back from an earlier-than-usual elimination in the NCAA Tournament, falling short in the Lubbock Regional final to Texas Tech.

With a veteran cast of players and high rankings across the six major polls, Louisville will be looking to return to the Super Regionals for the sixth time in seven seasons, and looking for their fourth College World Series appearance in the last six seasons.

The Polls

Louisville enters the 2019 season ranked in the top ten in five of college baseball’s six major polls. The Cards are ranked as high as fourth in D1baseball.com’s top 25.

Louisville is eighth in both the USA Today / Coaches and Perfect Game Top 25 polls. Their other top ten rankings come in the NCBWA and Collegiate Baseball polls, where they are ninth.

The lowest ranking for Louisville comes from Baseball America, where they are 11th.

Combining all six major polls, Reddit’s composite poll has the Cardinals at ninth.

The News

  • Louisville baseball had its 15th straight semester with a cumulative 3.0 GPA or better.
  • Pitchers Nick Bennett and Shay Smiddy, along with Tyler Fitzgerald, Zeke Pinkham, and Logan Wyatt are captains for the 2019 Louisville baseball team.
  • Louisville tweaked its ticketing process for the 2019 season. All ACC games, as well as non-conference games against Kentucky and Vanderbilt, are charged admission. All other non-conference games are free.
  • 93.9 The Ville will air the majority of Louisville’s games on the radio. Select games will be on 1450 AM, while ACC Network Extra (available via WatchESPN app) will televise a majority of the games.
  • Louisville baseball has four games outside of the ACC Network Extra. It’s road trip to Eastern Kentucky on March 19th will air on ESPN+, and their visit to Kentucky on April 16th will be on SEC Network+. The Cards have two games on ESPNU: May 7th at home versus Vanderbilt, and May 14th at Indiana.

The Opponent

Louisville takes on Connecticut in an old-school Big East / AAC matchup this weekend.

UConn finished the 2018 season with a 37-22-1 record. The Huskies made an appearance in the NCAA Tournament, but came up short in the Conway Regional final against Washington.

Ranked as high as 20th in the Perfect Game Top 25, the Huskies are one of the early favorites in the American Athletic Conference. In the preseason voting, they were projected to finish third in the conference, behind East Carolina and Houston.

In the other preseason polls, Connecticut is ranked 32nd in Collegiate Baseball’s Top 40, and 35th in the NCBWA Top 40.

Players to Watch (for UConn)

Louisville gets an early challenge against one of college baseball’s best pitchers in Mason Feole. The junior was selected as a preseason All-American across multiple publications, as well as the Preseason AAC Pitcher of the Year.

Feole had a terrific 2018 season, posting a 9-2 record with a 2.50 ERA, throwing 120 strikeouts, and holding opposing batters to a .220 average. His performance earned him some All-American honors in 2018, and he was named to the Golden Spikes Award watchlist to start the 2019 season.

UConn also has a terrific reliever in right-hander Jacob Wallace. Wallace was also chosen as a preseason all-conference pitcher in the AAC based off his 2018 season, ending with a 1-0 record, three saves, and a 3.95 ERA while holding batters to a .226 average. He also had a terrific summer in the Cape Cod League, earning all-league honors after pitching 13.2 scoreless innings.

At the plate, UConn will be led by another preseason all-conference player in shortstop Anthony Prato. Prato had a .324 batting average in 2018, adding 11 doubles, two triples, and 23 RBIs to his totals. Prato had a phenomenal postseason run in 2018, earning All-AAC tournament honors as well as a spot on the Conway Regional team.

UConn returns one other .300 hitter in senior Michael Woodworth (.302 batting average, 22 RBIs).

How to Watch / Listen:

Louisville and UConn start their 2019 seasons on Friday at 6:00 p.m. ET. The series will continue throughout the weekend, with Saturday’s game starting at 3 p.m. ET, and Sunday’s series finale at 1 p.m. ET.

All three games are available on 93.9 The Ville FM.

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