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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

Heyer toes rubber as Arizona baseball opens at Hi Corbett

Ginny+Polin+%2F+Arizona+Daily+Wildcat%0A%0ABaseball+vs+Rice
Ginny Polin
Ginny Polin / Arizona Daily Wildcat Baseball vs Rice

Opening night has finally arrived for the Arizona baseball team, and while the season is full of expectations and the novelty of playing at a new field, the Wildcats still have a major constant in ace pitcher Kurt Heyer.

Heyer, a 2012 Louisville Slugger third-team pre-season All-American, has once again been given the role as the coveted Friday starter, beginning at 6 tonight against North Dakota State at Hi Corbett Field.

“He’s been doing it for two years, so if he’s not used to it, nobody is,” head coach Andy Lopez said.

There is a real comfort for the team to be able to put someone on the mound who has pitched in that position before, Lopez said. They have the confidence that he can do it again.

And as Heyer showed last season, he has the talent to warrant the role — he finished with an 8-5 record and an impressive 2.41 ERA with 134 strikeouts and only 26 walks.

And if he repeats his last performance against North Dakota State, that would be a great housewarming present for the Wildcats. Heyer pitched seven shutout innings and had eight strikeouts in a 10-0 victory over the Bison, and he just hopes to go out and have a similar performance this time around.

“I want to get that chance to help out the team as much as I can,” Heyer said.

The biggest change this season for Heyer isn’t playing at a new field though — it’s the new face behind home plate.

Freshman catcher Riley Moore has replaced Jett Bandy, but Heyer said he’s confident in Moore and that the freshman has shown a strong presence behind the plate.

As for Moore, he’s just excited to have the opportunity to play at the collegiate level, and he said he knows his first game is about letting his ace do all the work.

“The show is all him, I just hope to be a little bit of a stepping stone for him,” Moore said. “It’s going to be all him, he’s going to light it up.”

To prevent the Wildcats from taking NDSU lightly, Lopez has taken a concrete strategy to try and help his team focus on playing the game instead of concentrating on the opponent.

The schedule that Lopez handed out to his players lists the information about each game this season, but under the column of opponent it simply says “the game” 56 times, Lopez said.

“We teach that really the other team should be a secondary issue,” he said. “You have to go out and play the game soundly. You have to throw strikes, you have to play catch, you have to put the ball in play. You have to really just play those components — do that well and the (opponent) becomes a secondary issue.”

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