LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) – University of Louisville junior pitcher Zack Burdi has won some difficult games on the mound and has seemed to master a difficult challenge off the field. Burdi won his third straight Omaha Challenge, a five-day, ten event physical challenge that head baseball coach Dan McDonnell introduced to the team in 2006.

“It’s fun to put guys in leadership roles and then put them in uncomfortable situations and see how well they’re able to compete,” said McDonnell after Tuesday’s final event.

That event held at the Trager Center featured each participant running with sled weights 100 yards, carrying a heavy bag another 100 yards and then sprinting back to the other end of the field.

“It’s not just the physical or athletic side (that’s important),” McDonnell said. “It’s 6 A.M. competing, then you gotta go to class, then come back in the afternoon.”  McDonnell says it’s mentally taxing as well.

U of L returns the majority of its pitching staff on a team that finished 25-5 in ACC play and won the Atlantic Division. The team also returns seven players who started 30 or more games in 2015.

“With all the returners coming back and with all the success they’ve had the past couple of years…we just felt like this may be the highest preseason ranked team we’ve ever had,” McDonnell said.

The Cardinals are looking to reach their fourth straight NCAA Super Regional this season.

“Hopefully we’re mature enough and disciplined enough to handle the high expectations,” said McDonnell.

The Cardinals open the baseball season February 19th at Jim Patterson Stadium with a three game series against SIU-Edwardsville.

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