CWS Primer: Louisville
Omaha History: 2 CWS appearances
Overview: The Louisville Cardinals are the lone Big East representative in the CWS, and like many of the teams that made it this far they rely heavily on their arms. Louisville’s pitching staff put up a ridiculous 2.50 ERA which was good enough for fifth in the country. They rank tenth in the country in strikeout-to-walk ratio, and they lead the nation in strikeouts per nine innings. In other words, Louisville pitchers make batters feel like they have holes in their bats. But the Cardinals aren’t all pitching. They also know how to score runs. They rank in the top 30 in runs scored. They racked up 400 runs this season. And many of those runs were the product of slick base running. On the hardwood the Cardinals won a national title with a full-court press, run-n-gun style. Their baseball team applies a similar strategy to their offense. They finished second in the country with a whopping 150 stolen bases. They put pressure on the pitchers with their speed, and hope to cause them to make mistakes while they worry too much about the base runners.
Road To Omaha: Like many of the teams in Omaha, Louisville escaped through the Regionals and Super Regionals unscathed. In the Super Regionals they swept through Vanderbilt who was one of the favorites to win a title this season.
Players To Watch:
Jeff Thompson - He’s a third round pick of the Detroit Tigers and hitters struggle to make contact against him. He led the country in hits per nine innings. He amassed an 11-1 record while striking out 109 batters. Plus his ERA sits at just 2.00. On a team chock full of great arms he just might be the best one.
CoCo Johnson - Great name. Great player. Johnson is an all-around solid player. He can hit, run, and play good defense. The Marlin draft pick put together a .333 average with eight home runs and 50 runs batted in. He’s a force in the middle of the order, and he’s got the speed to put pressure on pitchers when he does get on base.
Take The Title If…: If their running game forces teams into errors and pitchers into make mistakes, and if their pitching staff continues to send batters back to the dugout with their heads hung low then this team could find themselves hoisting their first trophy in program history.
A Quick Trip If…: If their postseason inexperience causes their pitchers falter they might be done before they really get started. Or if their lack of a true big time threat at the plate causes their offense to struggle they could head home in a hurry.
Why Should Omaha Cheer For Them?: One of the greatest high school basketball players in Omaha history is now a Louisville Cardinal. So, Omaha Central grads at the very least should be supporting Cardinal Red if only to support Akoy Agau