Jan. 16, 2009

LOUISVILLE, Ky. – Led by Preseason Player of the Year Chris Dominguez, Preseason Pitcher of the Year Justin Marks and Preseason All-BIG EAST selection Jeff Arnold, the University of Louisville baseball team has been tabbed as the unanimous favorite to win the 2009 BIG EAST Conference title by the league’s head coaches, who were not permitted to vote for their own teams.

After winning the 2008 BIG EAST Tournament title and earning a second straight NCAA Championship appearance, the Cards return eight of nine position starters for 2009, as well as a deep and talented stable of pitchers. Louisville, which is ranked as high as No. 8 in the nation in the Collegiate Baseball Newspaper Preseason Poll, earned 121 points and all 11 available first-place votes in the preseason poll, while South Florida was the second choice by the league’s coaches with 103 points.

Leading the way for the Cards in 2009 is Dominguez, a junior third baseman from Miami, who has already been named Preseason First Team All-America by three publications, including the Collegiate Baseball Newspaper, NCBWA and Ping!Baseball. He was also named to the Brooks Wallace National Player of the Year Award Watch List to go along with his Preseason BIG EAST Player of the Year honor.

Dominguez was named to five All-America teams in 2008 and earned BIG EAST Co-Player of the Year honors after hitting .365 with a team-leading 21 home runs and 75 RBI to go with 13 doubles. Overall, he tied for the league lead in home runs, was second in slugging percentage (.687) and RBIs, and led the league in total bases (171). He was also named 2008 BIG EAST Tournament MVP after leading the Cards to their first ever BIG EAST title while going 8-for-18 (.444) from the plate with two home runs, nine RBI and seven runs scored.
Marks, a junior left-handed starter from Owensboro, Ky., earned the Preseason BIG EAST Pitcher of the Year honor after an impressive sophomore season for the Cards, which included a 9-2 record, a 2.37 ERA and 89 strikeouts in 91 innings of work en route to being named to a pair of All-America teams as well as All-BIG EAST First Team honors.

The BIG EAST honor is just the latest preseason accolade for Marks, who as also been named Preseason Second Team All-America by Collegiate Baseball Newspaper, NCBWA and Ping!Baseball, as well as also being named to the Brooks Wallace National Player of the Year Award Watch List for 2009. Overall, Marks is 18-4 in his career at U of L with a 2.53 ERA in 195.2 innings.
Joining Dominguez and Marks on the Preseason All-BIG EAST team was junior catcher Jeff Arnold, who did not commit an error throughout the 2008 season, throwing out 15 of 30 base stealers. A Louisville native, Arnold batted .333 on the season and tallied 32 RBIs.

Last season, the Cards finished 41-21 overall and were eliminated from the Athens Regional by eventual College World Series runner-up Georgia.

Louisville will open the 2009 season with a three-game series at preseason top 25 foe Florida on Feb. 20-22, while the home-opener is set for Feb. 25 against Eastern Kentucky.
 
2009 Preseason All-BIG EAST Poll
Team Points (First Place) 2008 Overall / BIG EAST
1. Louisville* 121 (11) 41-19 / 16-11
2. USF 103 31-27 / 14-13
3. Notre Dame 99 33-21-1 / 16-10
4. St. John’s 93 (1) 41-14 / 20-7
5. Cincinnati 77 23-11 / 19-8
6. Connecticut 62 27-28 / 11-16
7. West Virginia 60 35-21 / 13-14
8. Rutgers 58 23-29-1 / 11-16
9. Seton Hall 49 31-25 / 15-12
10. Villanova 31 30-28 / 12-15
11. Pittsburgh 27 19-34 / 7-19
12. Georgetown 12 18-32 / 7-20
 
Preseason BIG EAST Player of the Year:
   Chris Dominguez, Jr., 3B, Louisville
 
Preseason BIG EAST Pitcher of the Year:
   Justin Marks, Jr., LHP, Louisville*
 
Preseason All-BIG EAST Team                     
Pos.  Name, Class, School (Key 2008 Stats ;All Games Played)
LHP, Justin Marks, Jr., Louisville*
(9-2 Record, 2.37 ERA, 14 GS, 0 CG, 0 ShO, 91.0 IP, 39 BB, 89 SO)
RHP, Eric Maust, Jr., Notre Dame                 
(6-3 Record, 4.52 ERA, 10 GS, 0 CG, 0 ShO, 69.2 IP, 23 BB, 46 SO)
RHP, Michael Hill, Sr., Cincinnati                   
(6-4 Record, 3.46 ERA, 12 GS, 3 CG, 0 ShO, 80.2 IP, 16 BB, 65 SO)
RHP, John Folino, Sr., Connecticut               
(4-4 Record, 5.11 ERA, 7 GS, 0 CG, 0 ShO, 56.1 IP, 12 BB, 39 SO)
RHP, Sean Black, Jr., Seton Hall                   
(3-3 Record, 3.44 ERA, 8 GS, 1 CG, 1 ShO, 65.1 IP, 30 BB, 59 SO)
C, Jeff Arnold, Jr., Louisville                     
(.333 avg., 183 AB, 39 R, 61 H, 14 2B, 1 3B, 2 HR, 32 RBI, 12 SB)
1B, Jaren Matthews, So., Rutgers             
(.294 avg., 214 AB, 37 R, 63 H, 11 2B, 2 3B, 10 HR, 54 RBI, 8 SB)
2B, Jeremy Barnes, Sr., Notre Dame         
(.307 avg., 199 AB, 40 R, 61 H, 15 2B, 1 3B, 8 HR, 50 RBI, 3 SB)
3B, Chris Dominguez, Jr., Louisville           
(.365 avg., 249 AB, 68 R, 91 H, 13 2B, 2 3B, 21 HR, 75 RBI, 11 SB)
SS, Jedd Gyorko, So., West Virginia          
(.409 avg., 232 AB, 62 R, 95 H, 17 2B, 3 3B, 8 HR, 63 RBI, 4 SB)
OF, Ryan Lockwood, So., USF                    
(.415 avg., 193 AB, 44 R, 80 H,15  2B, 2 3B, 0 HR, 37 RBI, 12 SB)
OF, A.J. Pollock, Jr., Notre Dame                
(.350 avg., 217 AB, 49 R, 76 H, 15 2B, 3 3B, 4 HR, 42 RBI, 28 SB)
OF,  Cameron Satterwhite, Sr., Cincinnati  
(.364 avg., 225 AB, 49 R, 82 H, 21 2B, 2 3B, 14 HR, 61 RBI, 0 SB)
DH, Chris Affinito, Sr., Seton Hall               
(.308 avg., 201 AB, 38 R, 62 H, 9 2B, 3 3B, 10 HR, 40 RBI, 0 SB)
     
* - unanimous selection