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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

UA baseball looks to redeem itself

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The last time the Arizona baseball team faced the Oregon Ducks, it lost 7-3 in game three and Wildcats head coach Andy Lopez rented out a ballroom at a Hilton in Oregon to share his displeasure with the team.

“We were getting changed (after the game) and we could tell Lopez was very upset by our performance,” said right fielder Robert Refsnyder. “He gave it to us pretty good, I don’t think a word was said by anybody.”

Refnsyder said losing the series to Oregon was the defining moment of last season, which the Wildcats would eventually end one win short of the super regional playoffs.

Now, with the Ducks flocking to Tucson for a three-game series this weekend, the No. 11 Wildcats have a shot at redemption, something that couldn’t come at a better time.

Oregon is currently a half game up on the Wildcats in the Pac-12 Conference standings and a series win against the Ducks this weekend would go a long way in the Wildcats’ attempt to solidify their spot at the top of the table with only 12 games left in the regular season.

The fact that the Oregon Ducks are even being mentioned in the Pac-12 conversation is a surprise to many. Baseball was relegated to a club sport at Oregon in 1982, and only managed to come back into the picture in 2009, when the university decided to field a Division I team again.

The Ducks’ quick development is due to Phil Knight and the Nike gods providing top-notch facilities and gear.

With this in mind, Lopez said he is not surprised.

“They’ve got very good support,” Lopez said. “They’ve got a marvelous facility, young guys are intrigued by the glitter and the gold and all the rest. I’m not shocked by any sense of the imagination.”

The one thing the Wildcats have this time around is Hi Corbett Field, which can be near impossible to figure out for anyone who doesn’t play there on a regular basis.

A ball hit anywhere high in the outfield is going to be caught, it’s just that simple.
Refsnyder says that the Wildcats are now accustomed to it.

“We know how this ballpark plays out, with the gaps and all that,” he said.

Another crucial element that Arizona’s been lacking for the past several years has been fan support, but Hi Corbett seems to have taken care of that problem.

Last Friday, the Wildcats hosted East Tennessee State and had more fans in the stands in the seventh inning of the blowout contest than they would have had last year at first pitch on a Friday, which Lopez says helps.

“If you’re chasing runs in the seventh or eighth inning, it’s just a lot different when people are on their feet when a guys gets on base,” he said. “There’s a distinct feeling when you have that support.”

Looking ahead

After Oregon, the Wildcats will have six more games before closing out the regular season with a three-game series against ASU.

After that, if all goes to plan, Hi Corbett will be hosting a playoff regional with the Wildcats as the number one seed.

According to Perfect Game, a baseball scouting website, Arizona is projected to face New Mexico, New Mexico State and Oklahoma in the Tucson regional.

If the Wildcats can win the regional, they’ll move on to the super regional and could eventually earn a spot in the College World Series in Omaha.

Refsnyder said that from day one that was the team’s goal, and with a more mature mentality this season, his goal remains the same.

“We have a lot of experience,” Refsnyder said. “We have that endurance, we’ve played that sixty game schedule.”

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