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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


    Junior gets his chance at bat

    Jake Lacey / Arizona Daily Wildcat

Students act as counselors for a weekend at Camp Wildcat where local kids sleep in Bear Down Gymnasium and do fun activities.
    Jake Lacey
    Jake Lacey / Arizona Daily Wildcat Students act as counselors for a weekend at Camp Wildcat where local kids sleep in Bear Down Gymnasium and do fun activities.

    Lopez’s ‘Johnny on the spot’

    Timing is everything.

    Just when the Arizona baseball team lost two of its starting outfielders to injury, junior outfielder Bill Rhinehart has picked up the slack and his offensive productivity by changing his swing and widening his stance.

    “”He’s changed his stance over the last four or five games,”” Arizona head coach Andy Lopez said. “”It looks better. He’s got more power.

    “”He’s gotten a little bit looser at the plate. He’s taking some real quality hacks. Now it’s just a matter of being productive with it.””

    With injuries to senior left fielder Derek Decater and freshman right fielder Jon Gaston, Rhinehart has seen more playing time over the past several weeks.

    Since March 3, he has collected seven hits and five RBIs and scored three runs. Most recently, the Citrus Heights, Calif., native went 3-for-3 in Arizona’s 5-1 win over UC-Irvine Saturday with three RBIs, two runs scored and a walk.

    “”I just opened up my stance,”” Rhinehart said. “”My shoulders are more towards the pitcher. I was closed off two weeks ago.

    “”Basically, it’s helping me out with having more rhythm in my swing because earlier I was just standing still. I had no power. That’s the benefit of opening, of just opening it up, is getting better rhythm.””

    His improved offensive production has drawn the attention of his teammates as well.

    “”Oh gosh, just look at the last two weekends,”” said junior shortstop Jason Donald. “”He’s had some big at-bats for us, some big hits. He’s really stoned some balls really good for us. It definitely has helped a lot.””

    Although he went 0-for-4 with a walk in Sunday’s 7-1 loss to the Anteaters, Rhinehart said he wasn’t disappointed with his performance.

    “”Even (Sunday), I went 0-for-4, I put some good swings on it, I just missed the ball,”” he said. “”It’s baseball, you’re not

    going to get a hit every time.””

    Rhinehart was able to put the ball in the air, flying out twice, but like the rest of Arizona that day, he was left stymied at the plate.

    Rhinehart is tied for third on the team in batting average at a .286 clip. He has also accumulated 14 hits, four doubles, a home run and 10 RBIs in 17 games this season.

    He was used as starter for the opening games of the season but later lost his job to Gaston. With Gaston listen as day-to-day with his return dependent on his pain threshold, Donald said his classmate has taken the opportunity and run with it.

    “”Bill just had his chance earlier in the season, and now getting a second chance, he’s made the most of it,”” Donald said.

    Last season, Rhinehart was used primarily as a designated hitter and made 19 starts and 29 appearances over the course of the season. He batted .279 with five home runs and 21 RBIs.

    “”He’s really done a great job for us,”” Donald said. “”It’s a huge benefit because he’s been through it before.””

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