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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


Cats ready for Pac-10 grind

It’s no secret that the Pacific 10 Conference is one of the best when it comes to baseball, but what makes it so special?

According to Arizona right fielder Steve Selsky, it’s a little bit of everything.

“”Everyone’s really competitive, and the talent’s definitely there,”” Selsky said. “”Everyone has good coaching, you could say that there’s more pitching, maybe more hitting, I don’t know, maybe even more defense. It’s hard to describe, they’re all just good. You don’t really have any easy games.””

The Pac-10’s depth has been clear since the start of the season, when six teams from the conference — including UCLA at No. 2 — appeared in Baseball America’s preseason top-25 poll.

Though Selsky couldn’t pick one thing that makes the Pac-10 stand above the rest of the nation’s conferences, Arizona head coach Andy Lopez didn’t waste any time saying what he thinks the league brings to the table.

“”Let’s put it this way, there’s somebody throwing right now in the Pac-10 on a Friday night that’s going to be in the big leagues in a year,”” Lopez said, referring to the conference’s quality pitching. “”If you go through (the conference), the arms are pretty special on the West Coast.””

Recent history supports Lopez’s notion that pitching is what separates the Pac-10 from the rest of the NCAA. Tim Lincecum (Washington), Mike Leake (ASU) and Daniel Schlereth (Arizona) are all current major league pitchers who made their mark in the Pac-10 within the last five years.

Because of the depth of the conference, Pac-10 teams also face another unique challenge — facing a top-25 team nearly every weekend.

As tough as that task will be, Selsky said that Arizona is much more prepared for the grind of the conference schedule than it was last season, when the Wildcats roared out to a 20-4 start before struggling to a 12-15 conference record and seventh-place finish.

“”We worked hard,”” Selsky said about the offseason. “”Everyone’s in shape, everyone feels good at the plate and everyone’s pitching well. I think we’ll be fine in the (Pac-10).””

Lopez also said that this year’s team is up to the challenge, thanks in large part to the experience that the group gained last season with almost entirely freshmen and sophomores filling out the lineup.

“”It’s like the first time you drive a car, it might be a little interesting,”” Lopez said. “”But they’ve done it for a year and they understand the process. They understand what it feels like to go on the road for a couple weekends in a row … how important the games are — every pitch.

“”There’s a lot on the line, you either make or break your season in the Pac-10, and they understand that.””

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