The Student News Site of University of Arizona

The Daily Wildcat

82° Tucson, AZ

The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

    “Despite rough season, team keeps postseason dreams alive”

    Arizona junior catcher Konrad Schmidt starts his run to first after connecting with a pitch in the Wildcats 7-5 win over Southern Utah at Sancet Stadium in late April.
    Arizona junior catcher Konrad Schmidt starts his run to first after connecting with a pitch in the Wildcats’ 7-5 win over Southern Utah at Sancet Stadium in late April.

    Oh what a difference a year makes.

    This time a year ago, the Arizona baseball team had its sights set on a Pacific 10 Conference championship and a second straight trip to Omaha, Neb., for the College World Series.

    While they fell short in both pursuits, those plans aren’t even in the cards for the Wildcats this season as they hold on to an ever-so-slim postseason chance, still trying to creep above .500 with three weeks remaining in the regular season.

    After losing seven players to the MLB Draft from last year’s squad, the Wildcats knew they would be without some power this year. Junior shortstop Jason Donald said he did not expect a difficult transition, though.

    “”I didn’t think we’d skip a beat at all,”” he said. “”I honestly didn’t. The tough thing is you have a lot of guys at once learning.””

    Senior second baseman Brad Boyer said he thought it would take some time for the team to come together, but he believed Arizona would be firing on all cylinders by this point in the season.

    “”I knew we were going to have some bumps in the road in the beginning,”” Boyer said. “”But I thought we’d be able to put it together towards the middle end of the year.””

    The injuries to four key contributors – most notably junior closer Mark Melancon and sophomore southpaw ace Eric Berger – coupled with welcoming 21 fresh faces to this year’s roster has led to an up-and-down season, with Arizona sputtering to a 21-25 overall record and 6-9 conference mark after losing two of three to Nevada-Las Vegas (21-28) last weekend at Sancet Stadium in the final nonconference games of the year.

    The Wildcats won 7-6 in 11 innings Friday before falling 15-7 on Saturday and 16-12 on Sunday.

    “”I didn’t think we’d be where we are at this moment,”” said Arizona head coach Andy Lopez, who came into the spring thinking his squad would reach the postseason. “”We’ve had a couple major injuries, when you lose half of your rotation on a weekend. There’s 27 innings on a weekend, and we lose 14 with Melancon and Berger.

    “”Our pitching is making it more of a challenge right now.””

    Despite the Wildcats’ inconsistencies, Lopez said his team still has a shot at the postseason.

    Lopez said his gut feeling tells him the Wildcats will have to sweep one of their three remaining series, while winning two of three games in the other two to accomplish that.

    “”(That) is going to be a difficult task,”” he said.

    Arizona opens the final three weeks of the season at Sancet Stadium as it hosts Washington State (30-16, 7-8) and No. 18 ASU (30-16, 8-7) before traveling to Los Angeles to take on Southern California (24-22, 10-8).

    “”We still have an opportunity to go into the postseason,”” Boyer said. “”We’ve got to get hot.””

    More to Discover
    Activate Search