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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

Baseball faces another big test

Breaking in a young team could be compared to breaking in a new baseball glove.

Both are tedious processes that require a lot of repetition. Forming the perfect pocket in a glove can be frustrating and takes a while to feel comfortable.

For Arizona head coach Andy Lopez’s squad, the same is true of finding consistency on a nightly basis.

With perennial college powerhouse California State, Fullerton (No. 18) in town for a three-game series beginning tonight at 6, the process of breaking in the young Wildcats will continue regardless of the final scores.

“”We need to play good people, and we need to play a lot of games,”” Lopez said. “”It’s the only way to have young guys get old.””

After sweeping the first series of the year against Utah Valley University, Arizona (4-3) has been humbled by losing three of its last four games.

Inconsistent pitching and untimely hitting characterized those losses, and against a team like Fullerton (3-4), the margin for error becomes even smaller.

For Lopez, success rises and falls with pitching.

“”Nobody’s foolish in this program,”” Lopez said. “”They know our best years, and most successful years have been when we’ve been pretty good on the mound.””

Wednesday’s walk-off win against University of Nevada, Las Vegas, restored order for Arizona after it had lost three games in a row, and it all started with a solid start from redshirt junior pitcher Daniel Workman.

Workman, who will likely round out the weekend rotation on Sunday following freshman Kurt Heyer and sophomore Kyle Simon, says that playing series against teams like Fullerton will only help Arizona in the long run.

“”The better competition you see now, out of conference and everything, just makes you that much better for the teams that are ranked in your conference,”” Workman said.

“”It’s crucial for us because we aren’t ranked as high as (Fullerton), and getting those wins under your belt now keeps your confidence up for the season, and just helps to keep everything rolling,”” he added.

The back end of the Arizona bullpen has been shaky thus far, and the closer position remains unfilled heading into this weekend.

Young candidates for the job like freshmen Tyler Hale and Nick Cunningham won’t have any time to catch their breath against a potent Titan lineup.

Fullerton returns the core of last season’s team, which made it to the College World Series, and with a preseason ranking of No. 4, the Titans appear primed to make another deep run into the postseason this year.

Against such elite competition, the Wildcats’ mentality will ultimately dictate the outcome of the series. 

“”We’re young, but that doesn’t mean you can’t be good at baseball,”” said sophomore outfielder Steve Selsky. “”(The Titans) are good, and it should be exciting, if we play well. I know (Fullerton) and I think we can take it to them.””

No ‘Jett’ lag for Bandy

Sophomore catcher Jett Bandy has been locked in at the plate for the Wildcats in their first seven games.

Bandy leads the team in every major offensive category, with three home runs, 11 RBIs and a .485 batting average.

He has also been responsible for handling Arizona’s young pitchers. Although they’ve had their ups and downs early on, Bandy is confident that the experience from playing games will benefit the young arms.

“”It’s still early in the season,”” Bandy said. “”It’s like a new car, we’re still figuring out all the new buttons and stuff and how everything works.””

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