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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

Arizona baseball not looking to hit one out of the park in College World Series

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Gordon Bates
Gordon Bates / Arizona Daily Wildcat Victoria Ziarinik, Biology Freshman

Heading into its College World Series matchup against Florida State, it would be natural to want to compare the Arizona baseball team with the Seminoles to unearth any underlying advantages either team might possess.

Florida State holds the advantage in overall wins by five, and also lead in World Series appearances (21-16). The Wildcats have had more wins in Omaha, Neb., however, with a 33-26 advantage.
The biggest difference between the Wildcats and Seminoles, and the one that will have the highest impact on Friday night’s game, is Hi Corbett Field.

Arizona has played all its home games in a stadium similar to that of what will be their home for at least Friday and Sunday. TD Ameritrade Park Omaha’s dimensions, which includes a shorter distance from home plate to every spot along the outfield wall, bodes well for Arizona and their “small ball” hitting plan.

“I don’t think our hitting plan will be altered in any way,” Arizona head coach Andy Lopez said. “I think it will be a good situation for us. That will work to our advantage. I would expect that it will be an easier adjustment for us.”

Arizona’s hitting plan has changed over the course of the season because of the unique setting Hi Corbett presents. In February, when games began, Arizona’s hitters were admittedly frustrated by their inability to smack the ball around the yard, not only because of their lack of experience in a new stadium, but also because of less-potent bats now used by the NCAA.

The bats were made to decrease the reliance on home runs as offense, and instead switch emphasis to both pitching and defense. The bats, accompanied with the size of TD Ameritrade Park, can only assist the Wildcats’ small ball approach, right fielder Robert Refsnyder said.

“With the old bats, those big college kids are hitting home runs on fly balls,” Refsnyder said. “The new bats have really evened out the playing field.

“Ameritrade is kind of similar to us,” continued Refsnyder. “It’s big. It’s hard to hit it out because the wind blows in. That plays to our strengths. Any little advantage when you’re going for a national title helps. It helps (pitcher) Kurt (Heyer), he’s a bit of a fly ball pitcher at times. I’m sure he’ll have his confidence in those dimensions.”

The matchup with Florida State, a team with a much smaller stadium than Hi Corbett, will test the supposed advantage Arizona’s new home has given them.

“You watch other conferences and their stadiums look tiny,” freshman catcher Riley Moore said. “Guys are reaching with hands-out swings, barely getting it over the fence. Those things aren’t going to play in Omaha. A team like us, it’s much more compact strokes, hitting gap-to-gap.”

Hitting gap-to-gap and earning extra base hits is exactly the recipe that has allowed Arizona to reach its first College World Series since 2004. Thus far in the playoffs, the Wildcats have hit 23 extra base hits to Florida State’s 14.

“It will help us out,” Refsnyder said. “I’m looking forward to it.”

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