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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

Arizona Baseball’s Bash Brothers

Rodney Haas Arizona Daily Wildcat
Rodney Haas
Rodney Haas Arizona Daily Wildcat

As freshmen last year, Jett Bandy and Steve Selsky had to endure what head coach Andy Lopez called “”a nightmare”” and one of the worst years of his coaching career.

But as the saying goes, good things come to those who wait.

“”(Bandy and Selsky) were probably upset with last year too,”” Lopez said.

“”They fit in with this group. They didn’t fit in with last year’s group, they really didn’t. That was probably the worst group I’ve ever had in many ways,”” Lopez added. “”These guys weren’t a part of that. These guys were waiting for a group like this to be a part of.””

Because of their patience, the two Southern California natives now form one of the most feared duos in any lineup in the Pacific 10 Conference.

Bandy and Selsky hit back-to-back in the third and fourth slots in the order for the No. 18 Arizona (20-5) baseball team, the spots reserved for a team’s most potent hitters. The two sophomores have been the anchors of the freshmen-laden Wildcat lineup since the first game of the year.

Freshman Robert Refsnyder, who hits fifth behind Bandy and Selsky, brought up how their presence in the order sets the tone for the Pac-10’s top offense.

“”You know what you’re going to get from Jett (Bandy) and Steve (Selsky) everyday — that’s really good at-bats,”” said Refsnyder, who is fourth on the team in batting average (.435).

“”All year it’s just been consistency. You know what you’re going to get from them and it’s a great feeling to come out and bat behind those guys.””

The feeling of losing was something that was all too familiar for Bandy last year when Arizona underachieved. It is that bitter taste after a loss that fueled Bandy during the offseason and has helped him shoulder the Wildcats into the national spotlight.

“”Last year, the feeling of losing, you hate that feeling,”” Bandy said. “”It feels real good to put a good run together. Last year I kind of figured out a couple things toward the end and I just carried it into the summer and brought it into this year.””

Collegiate Baseball named Bandy a freshman All-American for his late season surge in 2009, and he is fully established as one of the most dominating hitters in the conference.

Taking a look at the Pac-10 standings for offensive statistics, Bandy appears near or at the top in every major category — first in batting average (.470) and total bases (73), and top three in home runs (5), RBIs (27), runs scored (34) and hits (47).

Something that might go unnoticed while Bandy tears the cover off the ball is that he is also dealing with a position change, shifting from third base to catcher this year.

It might be expected that added responsibilities like managing a young pitching staff and handling the daily grind of such a demanding position would take a toll on Bandy at the plate.

But something clicked for Bandy last year, and he has learned to keep his approach to the game as simple as possible.

“”Freshman year it’s a whole different field, different uniforms. The game was going a little fast for me,”” Bandy said. “”Coach Lopez is always pounding us on ‘slow the game down, keep it small, keep it simple.’ I’m just playing the game of baseball and having fun.””

Selsky has built an impressive resume of his own so far during his sophomore campaign. Like Bandy the week before him, Selsky was named the Pac-10 Player of the Week for March 22-28.

Arizona’s right fielder caught fire to raise his average to .450, right behind Bandy, and is tops in the conference in runs (35) and hits (49).

While Selsky was already one of Lopez’s most consistent hitters last year after also earning a freshman All-American nod from Collegiate Baseball, he credits health as the reason for taking the next step this year.

“”Last year I got pneumonia. I lost like 20 pounds. I got really weak and pretty fragile,”” Selsky said. “”To be honest, the difference is where I played last summer and having a year under my belt and being here before.””

When asked if Selsky has more confidence in the batter’s box this year, he said, “”A lot, 100 times more. It’s a good feeling to have. I definitely didn’t have that last year.””

Both Bandy and Selsky bring more than their statistics can show — they bring a sense of stability to a team of 21 newcomers.

They are young enough to relate to the freshmen in remembering what it’s like to play college baseball for the first time just last year, but are also seen as veterans having been around the block of Pac-10 baseball before.

It may look easy watching Bandy and Selsky launch baseballs around Sancet Stadium, but they had to wait out a hard year filled with ups and downs in 2009 before they could make the Wildcats fun to watch in 2010.

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