By Micah Brown —
The departure of Brendan McKay may leave baseball fans feeling as if the 2018 season will be a transition year. With the pitching talent Louisville retains, that may not be the case.
The trio of Sam Bordner, Adam Wolf and Nick Bennett combined to go 13-1 last season.
Furthermore, two Louisville natives aim to elevate their roles on the team — junior Riley Thompson and sophomore Adam Elliott.
A Christian Academy of Louisville alumni, Thompson will be competing for a starting role this season after pitching in relief as a sophomore.
Thompson’s sophomore year, his first season of competition, gave the coaches a preview of what he can do. In just 15.2 innings, Thompson struck out 23 batters and posted a 4.02 ERA to go along with a 1-0 record.
For Thompson, there is no doubt he possesses the skills necessary for being a factor in a starting role this season.
The right-hander return for his junior year after being selected by the New York Yankees in the MLB draft’s 25th round. With a fastball hovering around 96 mph, Thompson will have the opportunity to showcase his talents in a starting role this season.
Elliott, a St. Xavier graduate, was primarily used from the bullpen last season, specializing in facing left-handed batters.
Head coach Dan McDonnell wasted no time in getting Elliott in-game experience. In their first game at Jim Patterson last season, the left-handed pitcher came in against Eastern Kentucky for his collegiate debut and recorded three strikeouts in just 1.1 innings.
While Elliott will most likely continue his role as a reliever who specializes in striking out left-handed batters, he has proven that he can be effective against hitters on both sides of the plate.
The lefty finished his freshman year with a 2-0 record and a 2.14 ERA, striking out 31 batters in just 33.2 innings pitched.
Elliott, who also considered committing to Kentucky out of high school, flashed his potential against the Wildcats in their second matchup last season. As a freshman, Elliott came out of the bullpen to shut out the Wildcats in the three innings he pitched.
Even with the departures of some star players from last season, the 2018 season looks to be a promising one due to the bullpen. Assuming Thompson and Elliott remain healthy, there is no reason this team can’t compete for another appearance in the College World Series.
You can follow Micah on Twitter @micah_brown74.
Photo by Nancy Hanner / The Louisville Cardinal