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The Daily Wildcat

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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

Arizona set to play ball

Gordon+Bates+%2F+Arizona+Daily+Wildcat%0ABaseball+vs+Sacramento+Sunday
Gordon Bates
Gordon Bates / Arizona Daily Wildcat Baseball vs Sacramento Sunday

As the No. 19 Arizona baseball team begins its season tonight with a three-game homestand against North Dakota State. The Wildcats’ biggest goal is to prove how much last year’s young team has matured.

“”We’re going to have more of a drive this year to prove to everyone that we aren’t young anymore,”” said sophomore ace and Friday’s starter Kurt Heyer. “”We’re going to hopefully get to a super regional (playoff), and then to Omaha this year.””

The Wildcats picked up a playoff win last season, but it wasn’t quite what they had in mind after a 20-4 start to the season evaporated into a 34-24 record by season’s end.

“”I think they’re hungry. They’re tired of me, and practice and inters quad,”” said head coach Andy Lopez. “”I think they ended the way they didn’t want to end last season. They started off extremely hot last year but spit oil at the end.””

Arizona will have its first chance at redemption this evening against a Bisons team that the Wildcats have never played in the 105-year team history.

Coached by former Arizona pitcher Tod Brown, the Bisons are fresh off their best season as a Division-I program, winning 22 games and finishing sixth in the Summit League last year.

The wildcats will go after the Bisons with trio of right-handers, with Heyer getting the nod tonight and Kyle Simon and Tyler Hale taking over on Saturday and Sunday, respectively.

Arizona will return its entire lineup, save for utility man Rafael Valenzuel, but the Wildcats will be without arguably their best offensive player, right fielder Steve Selsky.

Selsky, who was sidelined after a line drive broke a bone in his hand during an intra squad game, won’t return to the team until mid-March.

Cats moving forward with new bats

The biggest offseason controversy is the ushering in of the new bat regulations, and the Wildcats have finally come to terms with what they will be swinging.

Junior catcher Jett Bandy, who has been named to a few preseason All-American lists, is in heavy support of the more traditional offense being reintroduced with the decreased power.

“”With that aluminum bat, you can get away with a lot sometimes,”” he said. “”You can get jammed and it will go over that outfielder’s head, hit it off the end and it’ll go off the second baseman’s head. Now (hits) really have to be fundamentally sound and short to the ball.””

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