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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

Moore looking to regain morale

File+Photo+%2F+The+Daily+WildcatArizona+baseball+catcher+Riley+Moore++catches+a+warm-up+pitch+during+Arizonas+6-5+victory+over+UCLA+on+April++13%2C+2014+at+Hi+Corbett+Field.+After+a+down+year%2C+Moore+and+the+Wildcats++are+looking+to+turn+around+the+program+this+season.

File Photo / The Daily Wildcat

Arizona baseball catcher Riley Moore catches a warm-up pitch during Arizona’s 6-5 victory over UCLA on April 13, 2014 at Hi Corbett Field. After a down year, Moore and the Wildcats are looking to turn around the program this season.

Last February, Riley Moore said he thought he would be playing his last season in an Arizona baseball uniform. 

But after not joining former teammates Trent Gilbert and Tyler Parmenter in the 2014 MLB draft, the senior is back in the desert for one more year, and he’s back with a vengeance.

Joining in on UA head coach Andy Lopez’s fall goal of improving mental toughness, Moore has been developing more of a leadership role than he has before in his career with the program.

“After two down years of not being the leader that I should have been, not taking control of the team that I should have taken control of, I’m stepping up and being the voice of this program that I always should have [been],” Moore said.

The catcher is one of four Arizona seniors to have won the National Championship in 2012. He played a vital role in the team’s sweep of the postseason, batting .389 in the 10 games it took to claim the title.

Since then, his performance at the plate has tapered, and with it, so has Arizona baseball. In 2013, Moore batted .285 and Arizona finished 34-21. Last year, he went .247; the Wildcats were just 22-33.

This year, he wants it to be different.

Lopez said the program needed an “attitudinal change” after last year’s roller-coaster season, and he thinks they accomplished that in the fall, especially in the leadership department.

Leadership is important to have on a team with five junior college transfers and 11 freshmen. Moore joins juniors Tyger Talley, Cody Hamlin, Scott Kingery and Zach Gibbons in the list of leaders Lopez expects to bring Arizona back to being the successful program it used to be.

“If we are going to be good, we need that [leadership],” Lopez said. “I don’t have any indication right now to tell me they won’t be those leaders.” 

Junior transfer Ryan Aguilar has already taken notice of the key players on this Arizona team. He listed Moore, along with fellow outfielder Tyler Krause, as guys that make a difference on and off the field.

“They’ve been here and they know what its like,” Aguilar said. “They know what coach Lopez expects, and what coach Lopez wants, they have.”

The Wildcats have a daunting 2015 schedule, facing preseason-ranked teams No. 20 Mississippi State, No. 18 Stanford, No. 19 ASU and No. 10 UCLA on the road and hosting No. 22 Rice in a sport already known for its grueling, nonstop season.

That’s where the mental toughness comes in.

“Last Saturday, we had an eight-and-a-half hour practice, which is just a little taste of what it’s going to take to be a tough team,” Moore said. “But having a team that’s willing to grind out long days, to grind out close games, is going to be making us tougher.”

The Wildcats also head into 2015 unranked for the first time since 2009, but they are using the lack of credibility to fuel the fire and reshape Arizona into a top-tier program.

“I agree with Lopez here when he says, ‘whoever the geniuses are that write that we’re unranked, that we are a nobody, we now have an opportunity to either prove them right, or we have an opportunity to prove people wrong,’” Moore said. “It’s a great opportunity when you’re not on the radar to make a big wake.”

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Follow Nicole Cousins on Twitter.

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