Cardinal baseball: UofL’s steady success story amid the storm

Cardinal baseball: UofL’s steady success story amid the storm
Dan McDonnell speaks at 2019 Media Day (Source: Annie Moore)

LOUISVILLE, KY (WAVE) - As years of tumult have surrounded the basketball and football programs, as scandals and coaching changes have occurred at an historic rate, UofL skipper Dan McDonnell has quietly put on his wide-brimmed sun hat and gone to work everyday.

Since joining the University of Louisville in 2006, McDonnell has cultivated a culture of humble success and standards of greatness which have taken his program to the top of the national college baseball scene.

“Today is the day we let the rest of the country know we want to win a national championship,” Dan McDonnell frankly said Tuesday.

It’s an understated tone of high expectations and steady leadership which has brought UofL Baseball to the position it’s now in, when a trip to Omaha is the standard each season. During McDonnell’s years, Cardinal baseball has become Louisville Athletics’ quieter, unproblematic child.

When McDonnell arrived, the Cardinals had never gone to Omaha. 353 days later, they stepped on the field at Rosenblatt Stadium for their first appearance at the College World Series.

That summer, as the baseball Cards made history, while elsewhere in the athletic department, changes were happening and what seemed like fixtures would soon be memory.

The football team at that time was led by Steve Kragthorpe. Kragthorpe had recently taken over after Bobby Petrino left the program unexpectedly after an Orange Bowl victory on January 2. Led by quarterback Brian Brohm, the first year of Kragthorpe’s tenure saw the Cards finish 6-6.

Rick Pitino was in his sixth season with Louisville, and his team included Terrence Williams, Earl Clark and future Cardinals coach David Padgett.

All told, Dan McDonnell’s tenure at UofL has seen three men’s basketball coaches, four football coaches (one twice), two athletic directors and four university presidents.

During a time period where much of the athletics program and the campus and university as a whole saw unprecedented change UofL baseball has continued to build a legacy of greatness. Since McDonnell’s arrival, the Cardinals have made four trips to the College World Series, 11 NCAA Regional appearances, seven NCAA Super Regional appearances (including five straight), eight regular season conference championships (2009, 2010, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017), one National Player of the Year, 37 All-Americans, 91 all-conference selections and six conference Pitchers of the Year.

Cardinal Baseball has seen 76 players selected in the Major League Baseball draft, 64 signing pro contracts.

The Cards are in the top ten of most major preseason College Baseball polls once again this year and look to continue their quiet tradition of excellence.

Louisville opens play Friday, February 15 in Florida against No. 20 Connecticut. After returning from the UConn series, the Cards return home for a 14-game home stand.

With Derby City’s unpredictable weather, it’s often hard to know what early baseball season will hold. But one thing is as sure as its been in the past 13 years of Cardinal athletics, anyone who makes it out to a game at Jim Patterson Stadium will see a team quietly going about its business, with elite-level talent, led by a coach who quietly demands a standard of success.

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