Tag Archives: Trunnell

Younger team looks to maintain U of L’s winning ways

By Lilly Trunnell

Out of the eight regular positions on the field, only three positions will see returning players. The catchers will be a mix of seniors Shane Crane and Kyle Gibson. Senior Cole Sturgeon will be returning to right-field, a player that Coach McDonnell calls “the best right-fielder” in collegiate baseball. Junior Sutton Whiting is slated to be the regular shortstop, however, at the time this article was written Whiting had suffered an injury and the timeline for his return was unknown.

Because of this, the Cardinals will be developing a new lineup. The first six slots of the lineup will look as follows: shortstop Sutton Whiting, right-fielder Cole Sturgeon, designated hitter Grant Kay, left-fielder Jeff Gardner, first baseman Danny Rosenbaum, second baseman Zach Lucas.

The final three slots, which will be held by third base Alex Chittenden, center-field Mike White, and either Shane Crane or Kyle Gibson depending on who catches, will be evaluated on a game-to-game basis to better be able to get the lineup back to the leadoff.

Regardless of what happens at leadoff, the Cardinals will be relying on senior right-fielder Cole Sturgeon to set an example for the younger, fresher team. Sturgeon appeared in 61 of 65 total games last year with a .339 batting average. In 221 at-bats he struck out only 18 times, and knocked in 33. His batting average ranked first on the team in 2013, and his on base percentage second only to drafted outfielder Coco Johnson.

The anticipated lineup shows again the turnover from the 2013 team, who made it to the College World Series. However, with the leadership of senior captains Jeff Gardner and Cole Sturgeon and junior captains Zach Lucas and Sutton Whiting, the young team has a strong backing to prove themselves this year.

“I always say this program’s about two constants, and that’s player development and team success,” Head Coach Dan McDonnell said. The coaching staff of McDonnell, Chris Lemonis, and Roger Williams work with a unique harmony and unparalleled commitment to their players. On this year’s squad, McDonnel says, “I hope there’s a chip on their shoulder.” He’s right — the 2014 team, as a young and mostly unseen group of players, will not initially get the respect they likely deserve.

Once again after this season, the Cards will be looking at yet another big turn around. Luckily, the temperature is just right for recruitment. The current freshmen make up a big percentage of this team, and it’s expected that next year’s freshmen will do the same thing.

“As I challenge the seniors and the older players, it’s very important for the young freshmen and the young position players to understand what the standard is right now. They need to get acclimated to the culture that we have, because it seems like an eternity but before they know it they’ll be sitting behind this desk (at the press conference) next year and there’ll be a lot of young kids running out next spring,” McDonnell said.

The coaching staff isn’t alone in making these young players into capable players, and the support they’ll receive from the influence of the older players will definitely make an impact on the young players that will take over next year.

With their focus on helping players develop and hopefully get them to their dream role in the big leagues, McDonnell, Lemonis and Rogers are making their young players into high-quality everyday men to fill the shoes of those before them year after year. Look forward this season to seeing a piece of that commitment out on the field, fighting for a chance to go back to every college team’s dream: The College World Series, 2014.

Louisville pitching staff

By Lilly Trunnell

At this time last year, we would be looking at a starting rotation of Jeff Thompson, Chad Green, and probably Dace Kime for the first weekend of Louisville Baseball. But this is no longer 2013, and the faces to be seen on the field prove it. All three of those pitchers were drafted in the 2013 MLB Draft, giving opportunity for new starters to make an impression on baseball fans and, potentially, major league scouts.

Fridays will be given over to junior left-handed pitcher Joe Filomeno. Though he didn’t start a game last season Filomeno appeared in 14 games for the Cardinals, putting up a 5.30 earned run average and a 1-0 record. Coach McDonnell admits that the Friday night starter is a “sexy term in college baseball,” but also admits the best teams are the ones that have several guys that can pitch Friday night. The other two weekend starters could also pitch Friday night, but the fact that Filomeno will be took the mound on the Cardinals’ opening day means the coaching staff must see something special in him.

“He’s fought through some tough times, some adversity, dealing with some injuries and a few setbacks in his career here, he’s come out of the bullpen and he’s tried to just throw by guys, and he’s had success,” McDonnell said. Filomeno fought back from an injury last year after the regional.

On Saturday the ball goes to right-handed pitcher Kyle Funkhouser. In 22 appearances in 2013, six of those were starts. He boasts a small 2.14 ERA with a 5-1 record in just over 54 innings. A sophomore, Funkhouser will be one of the youngest players to see playing time this season. It’s these young guys that the Cardinals will rely on for support this season, and then to take on a leadership role next season. Funkhouser will not be eligible for the MLB draft until summer 2015, meaning this is a pitcher we will see not only this year, but likely taking over the roles of the to-be-drafted juniors and graduating seniors after 2014.

Finally, on Sunday, right-handed pitcher Jared Ruxer will take the mound. Though appearing in 19 games and starting seven, Ruxer has only 38 innings under his belt from last season, with a 5.63 ERA. Ruxer, a junior, has postseason experience having pitched a scoreless inning of relief against Oklahoma State in last year’s NCAA regional championship game. Ruxer seemed to be a magnet for bad luck having six unearned runs in his relatively small number of innings. This former Big East Freshman of the Year will enter 2014 with a chance to prove himself as the starter he has the potential to be.

“These three guys that are very hungry… They’re hungry to make their mark,” McDonnell said.

With the loss of four junior pitchers to last season’s draft they will have that opportunity with this season. Returning from last year is right handed pitcher closer, junior Nick Burdi. The 100 mph pitcher has been named First Team Preseason, named to the Golden Spikes Award watch list, and has been known to hit triple digits with his fastball.

“He wants to be great,” says Coach McDonnell.

While these three guys will likely not be the exclusive three to start this season, they give a perfect example to the new faces we are likely to see this season in Cardinal baseball.