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Opponent Preview: Louisville

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Meet the Cardinals...

NCAA Womens Basketball: ACC Tournament - Notre Dame vs Louisville
Quit your creepin’, creepy bird
Jim Dedmon-USA TODAY Sports

Who’s the Pack playing?

Opponent: Louisville

Mascot: Cardinals | School Location: Louisville, KY | Conference: ACC

2019 Record: 25-8 (10-5, 3rd Atlantic) | 2018 RPI Rank: 10

2018 Record: 45-19 (18-12, 3rd Atlantic) | 2018 RPI Rank: 21

2017 Record: 53-12 (23-6, 1st Atlantic) | 2017 RPI Rank: 6


When? Where? How do I watch?

Location: Doak Field at Dail Park (Raleigh, NC)

Game Time(s): Friday, Apr 12 @ 6:30pm; Saturday, Apr 13 @ 2:00pm; Sunday, Apr 14 @ 1:00pm

TV: ESPN 8, “The Ocho” (Friday | Saturday | Sunday)

Radio: WKNC 88.1 in Raleigh, GoPack All-Access

Live Stats: Sidearm Stats


Tell me about this team

First, let’s take a look at what was said about Louisville from our 2019 Season Preview:

For the first time since 2011, when they were still in the Big East, Louisville didn’t finish 1st in their conference/division for the regular season. Based on the team they have this year, that’s probably not the start of a trend.

JR 1B Logan Wyatt (.339/.490/.522, 22 2B, 6 HR, 63:37 BB:K), JR Danny Oriente (.331/.403/.416, 10 2B, 13:17 BB:K), JR OF Drew Campbell (.313/.374/.425, 8 2B), JR OF Jake Snider (.300/.423/.383, 12 2B, 24 SB), JR SS Tyler Fitzgerald (.264/.344/.378, 17 2B, 23 SB), JR 3B Justin Lavey (.248/.307/.360, 13 2B, 7 SB) all return to the starting lineup. JR OF Ethan Stringer (.276/.355/.429, 6 2B, 3 HR) and SO INF/OF Lucas Dunn (.303/.397/.439, 3 2B, 11:9 BB:K) are primed for a bigger roles. The Cardinals also return all of their catchers from last year, although none of them ran away with the job. This is Louisville under Dan McDonnell, so the incoming freshman are ridiculous. Among the Cardinal’s 3rd ranked 2018 recruiting class are INF/RHP Jared Poland, INF/OF Alex Binelas, INF Tim Borden, INF Andrew Benefield, and C Henry Davis. This is a stacked lineup with a ton of juniors, but these freshman will add quality depth at the very least.

JR LHP Nick Bennett (8-2, 2.84 ERA, 1.11 WHIP, .203 OBA), JR RHP Bobby Miller (6-1, 2.97 ERA, 1.06 WHIP, .198 OBA), and SO LHP Reid Detmers (4-2, 4.85 ERA, 1.47 WHIP, .223 OBA) are the likely weekend rotation starters - at least unless a freshman arm pops up to nab one of those spots. SR RHP Bryan Hoeing (7-2, 2.88 ERA, 1.29 WHIP, .240 OBA), JR RHP Shay Smiddy (5-1, 3 SV, 2.96 ERA, 1.37 WHIP, .223 OBA), and JR LHP Adam Elliott (0-1, 2 SV, 0.00 ERA, 1.32 WHIP, .171 OBA) are three strong returning bullpen arms. Hoeing and Smiddy also have starting experience. JUCO JR RHP Luke Smith should factor into the pitching staff in a decent capacity. There are any number of freshman arms that have the ability to contribute, if not dominate, right away. RHPs Kerry Wright, Jack Perkins, and Jared Poland, along with LHP Carter Lohman, were all Top 125 recruits. FR LHP Garrett Schmeltz is a hometown kid who put up video game numbers in high school (40 W, 412 K in his career).

This Louisville team will be the class of the ACC, but unfortunately for them, they have a tougher ACC slate than Florida State or Clemson with the cross-division series.

2019 Projected Record: 43-13 (20-10)

NCAA Tournament Bound?: Yes

After starting off ACC play at 5-1 with series wins over Boston College and Duke, Louisville has lost their last two conference series. As we mentioned in the preseason preview, the Cardinals have a tough conference slate. Those last two ACC series have been against Georgia Tech and Clemson, both of which rank in the top 20 in RPI and firmly vying for regional hosting duties come NCAA Tournament play.

Louisville has been a ridiculously good program under Head Coach Dan McDonnell. The Cardinals have won 40+ games and made the postseason in all but one of McDonnell’s 12 seasons. Prior to McDonnell’s arrival, the Cardinals had never reached 40 wins in a season and had only one postseason appearance (2002). They’ve also made the College World Series three times under their current head coach.

This year’s Cardinals team is not the offensive juggernaut that McDonnell usually puts out, but the pitching staff might be his best overall unit - and that’s saying something. While the offensive is slashing a decent but underwhelming (by Louisville standards) .258/.363/.379, Cardinals pitchers are holding opponents to a ridiculously meager .204/.290/.308 slash line with an absurdly good team 2.97 ERA and 1.10 WHIP.

Louisville doesn’t hit the ball incredibly well, but they’re pushing the issue on the basepaths to make up for it. A top 20 team nationally in stolen bases with four different players who have 9+ stolen bases on the year, the Cardinals are likely to try and test out NC State’s ability to stop them from stealing bags after seeing Boston College successfully take 3-of-4 attempts last weekend.


Who’s on the mound for these guys?

Friday: LHP Reid Detmers (SO)

Saturday: LHP Nick Bennett (JR)

Sunday: RHP Bobby Miller (SO)


Key Players:

Offense

UTIL Lucas Dunn (SO) - .350 BA, .443 OBP, .483 SLG, 60 AB, 3 2B, 1 3B, 1 HR, 21 R, 7 RBI, 10 BB, 11 K, 9-10 SB. Began the season as a starter, but then fell out of favor for some reason; did start the last two games, though, going 4-for-11 with 3 SB. Has been their best hitter when he is playing. Played for Team Germany in the 2018 Baseball World Cup.

1B Logan Wyatt (JR) - .276 BA, .480 OBP, .419 SLG, 105 AB, 4 2B, 1 3B, 3 HR, 29 R, 20 RBI, 42 BB, 24 K, 4-4 SB. Clean-up hitter for the Cardinals and LOOK AT THOSE WALK NUMBERS (insert Vince McMahon gif)! He also had a 63:37 BB:K ratio last year, so that’s no fluke. He also hit 22 doubles and 6 HR last year en route to 1st Team All-ACC honors. The left-handed hitter is a Top 50 MLB Draft prospect by several publications.

SS Tyler Fitzgerald (JR) - .303 BA, .377 OBP, .455 SLG, 132 AB, 7 2B, 2 3B, 3 HR, 28 R, 28 RBI, 14 BB, 29 K, 12-14 SB. Was a 30th round selection by the Red Sox in 2016. Has alternated between the leadoff spot and the 3-hole in the lineup. Has gone 6-for-9 with 2 2B, 3B, and 2 SB in his last two games.

RF Danny Oriente (JR) - .277 BA, .367 OBP, .351 SLG, 94 AB, 7 2B, 0 3B, 0 HR, 8 R, 20 RBI, 10 BB, 18 K, 0-1 SB. Had been the 3-hole hitter for Louisville until hitting a recent cold spell and getting pulled from the starting lineup the last two games. He’s a good hitter, though, who slashed .331/.403/.416 with a 13:17 BB:K ratio last year while earning 3rd Team All-ACC honors, so he’ll find his way back into the lineup.

LF Jake Snider (JR) - .268 BA, .365 OBP, .354 SLG, 127 AB, 5 2B, 3 3B, 0 HR, 30 R, 10 RBI, 17 BB, 34 K, 9-11 SB. The 2-hole hitter for the Cards, he has three multi-hit games in his last five. He’s a better hitter than his overall numbers indicate, plus he has some wheels on the bases.

C Henry Davis (FR) - .286 BA, .357 OBP, .476 SLG, 63 AB, 3 2B, 0 3B, 3 HR, 6 R, 13 RBI, 7 BB, 9 K, 0-0 SB. Davis doesn’t start every game for Louisville, but he has started two games in each of their ACC series. He’s an impressive catching prospect who’s thrown out 8-of-11 attempted base stealers this year.

Pitching

LHP Reid Detmers (SO) - 5-2, 1.65 ERA, 0.70 WHIP, .147 OBA, 42.2 K%, 4.9 BB%, 54.2 IP, 28 H, 10 R, 10 ER, 10 BB, 86 K. 32nd round draft pick by the Braves in 2017. He is, uhh... talented, to say the least. His fastball sits in the low 90’s with a lot of arm-side run, and he mixes in a well-above-average curve and an excellent change. He’ll be a high draft pick in 2020.

LHP Nick Bennett (JR) - 4-2, 3.40 ERA, 1.22 WHIP, .234 OBA, 20.8 K%, 7.8 BB%, 45.0 IP, 40 H, 21 R, 17 ER, 15 BB, 40 K. Bennett was a Freshman All-American and 3rd Team All-ACC pick in 2017 and a 2nd Team All-ACC selection in 2018. A 40th round selection by the Giants out of high school in 2016, Bennett mixes four pitches. A good low-90’s fastball with a bit of run to it, a plus curve, a plus slider, and an average change.

RHP Bobby Miller (SO) - 1-0, 2 SV, 4.80 ERA, 1.07 WHIP, .215 OBA, 32.5 K%, 7.3 BB%, 30.0 IP, 23 H, 16 R, 16 ER, 9 BB, 40 K. A 38th round pick by the Orioles in 2017. He’s a high-effort guy who has lively stuff, but can sometimes overthrow causing him to be inconsistent with his release point and miss either high-and-in or low-and-away, but control is not typically an issue for him. The 2018 Freshman All-American and 3rd Team All-ACC performer just moved to the starting rotation in the last three weeks.

LHP Michael Kirian (SO) - 2-0, 1 SV, 0.54 ERA, 0.86 WHIP, .172 OBA, 34.4 K%, 6.3 BB%, 16.2 IP, 10 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 4 BB, 22 K. Big 6’6, 235 lbs lefty struggled with control a year ago as a freshman, but has shown out brilliantly this year. He has a fastball that runs in the low-to-mid 90’s and a very good curve.

LHP Adam Elliott (JR) - 2-1, 0 SV, 1.88 ERA, 1.06 WHIP, .170 OBA, 26.8 K%, 12.5 BB%, 14.1 IP, 8 H, 3 R, 3 ER, 7 BB, 15 K. Has been excellent in his three years as a Louisville reliever, although he was used almost exclusively as a LOOGY last year. Has a delivery that starts off slow and then speeds up quickly, finishing with an odd over-the-top with body lean slot. Sits high-80’s to low-90’s with his fastball.

RHP Michael McAvene (JR) - 1-0, 3 SV, 1.93 ERA, 0.57 WHIP, .128 OBA, 38.0 K%, 4.0 BB%, 14.0 IP, 6 H, 3 R, 3 ER, 2 BB, 19 K. Control was an issue throughout his first two seasons, but not this year. Pitched 3.0 innings without allowing a baserunner and striking out six hitters last weekend against Clemson. Sits in the mid-90’s with his fastball which he relies on for the most part, but has a curve-slider that is very good when he does throw it.

RHP Bryan Hoeing (SR) - 2-2, 0 SV, 3.38 ERA, 1.37 WHIP, .256 OBA, 23.0 K%, 6.7 BB%, 29.1 IP, 31 H, 15 R, 11 ER, 9 BB, 31 K. Another big 6’6 pitcher, he’s regarded pretty highly as a pro prospect by a lot of publications. He was drafted in the 36th round last year by the Giants (he was also taken in the 32nd round by the Diamondbacks in 2015), but chose to come back for his senior season. Has the stuff and the size that makes scouts drool, but hasn’t yet put it all together. Began the year as a starter before moving to the bullpen after the first two ACC series.


Quick! Fun Facts!

Louisville has had 21 players selected in the last three MLB Drafts, including a whopping 13 in the top 5 rounds.

Louisville has won 10 regular season or conference tournament championships in McDonnell’s 12 seasons.

The Cardinals’ coaching staff has a very Carolinas flare to it as three of the four coaches played their college ball in North or South Carolina (Dan McDonnell, The Citadel; Roger Williams, East Carolina; Adam Vrable, Coastal Carolina).

NC State trails in the all-time series with Louisville, 4-9, but did win 2-of-3 in last year’s series.


Prediction

NC State hasn’t faced a team with a talented enough and deep enough pitching staff to shut down their bats over a three-game series... this is the exception. If you love low-scoring baseball, this is the series for you. Wolfpack Head Coach Elliott Avent hasn’t been his normal small-ball, bunt-happy self this year, but that might change in this series where runs will be at a premium.

Outcome: Louisville snaps the Wolfpack’s streak of series wins, taking two-of-three in Raleigh with the run differential being even across the entire series.