Inside Cardinal Baseball: Weekly notebook

Ty Young

The University of Louisville baseball team will begin practice on Jan. 25. The Cardinals are the preseason favorites to win the Big East title. Cardinal Authority has a weekly baseball notebook. Here's this week's edition:

KEY DATES FOR BASEBALL PROGRAM

The football season is complete and the basketball team is into conference play. So, that means baseball is not too far off.

The U of L baseball team has reported back to campus for the semester and is currently going through individual workouts with the coaches.

The full squad will holds its first practice on Jan. 25.

Louisville has won the Big East Conference title three of the past four years and will open the 2013 season on Feb. 15 against Indiana in the Big East/Big Ten Challenge in Dunedin, Fla.

The Cardinals will play the first of 36 home games on Feb. 20 against Eastern Kentucky University. Big East action begins the weekend of March 22 with the Big East Championship to be played May 22-26 in Clearwater, Fla.

YOUNG HAS THE POWER AND HANDS

The Cardinals will have plenty of firepower on offense this season but the best all-around hitter could be junior Ty Young.

U of L coach Dan McDonnell said the third baseman has "what we call maybe the best hands," and he hit .344 last season with six home runs and 42 RBIs.

"If you watch Young in a practice or a scout it watching us take batting practice, it's hard not to say that's your best hitter," McDonnell said. "He has the balance and he has quick hands. He grew up an awful lot last year."

Young, a native of Coatesville, Pa., was a third-team All-Big East Conference performer last season. McDonnell said he's playing a little out of position at third base and will likely be a second baseman at the professional level.

"He's really a second baseman and will play that in pro ball," McDonnell said. "But he has the tools to be the best hitter on our team."

McDonnell added that second baseman Nick Ratajczak "is probably the most consistent hitter on the team." He hit .343 last season with an on-base percentage of .463 and played in all 63 games for the Cardinals.

"His swing is so short, he repeats it and is so balanced," McDonnell said. "Ratajczak gets on base a lot and never strikes out."

He only struck out nine times in 245 at-bats last season.

SENDING OUT THE MESSAGE

In a recent interview with Cardinal Authority, U of L coach Dan McDonnell talked a lot about what the coaching staff "has been preaching."

McDonnell is entering his seventh season at U of L and he said the staff has been using past success to sell the program.

"It's kind of been our staple," McDonnell said pointing to a paper that had outlined what the coaches have to sell with the program.

In six years, the Cardinals have five NCAA Tournament appearances and four Big East championships. U of L has been the NCAA Regional hosts three times, while advancing to two Super Regionals and one College World Series appearance.

"We just want to keep adding to that," McDonnell said.

CARDS GOT AFTER IT IN OFFSEASON

McDonnell said several times during the offseason he reminded his players that "what separates the best" players and teams is the offseason.

He said by all indications he was pleased with the way this U of L group went at it in the offseason, especially in the weight room.

"Everybody works hard in the fall and in January," McDonnell said. "But who separates themselves (in December)? I told them, think about it like this. If I let one day pass, this guy is going to pass me.

"Look at (pitcher) Jeffery Thompson. These guys have been chasing him since he showed up. He got here, worked his tail off and seemed to be a little ahead. He's so consistent and such a hard worker and they have been chasing him for two years. Maybe they will catch up to him, but it's not because he's not working."

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