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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


Arizona baseball’s Nik McClaughry is a strong contender for Pac-12 Defensive Player of the Year

Megan Ewing

Arizona infielder Nik McClaughry hits the ball against the opposing Arizona State pitcher on Tuesday, April 6, 2021, at Hi Corbett Field in Tucson, Ariz. 

Arizona baseball shortstop Nik McClaughry has been a human highlight reel this season. 

Those are just a handful of the highlight plays McClaughry has made at the shortstop position for Arizona this season. 

When asked what makes McClaughry so special on the field, both head coach Chip Hale and starting pitcher TJ Nichols immediately alluded to his footwork.

“[McClaughry’s] feet are special, which makes him get into good positions to field balls,” Hale said. “Very rarely do you see him fighting balls and when he does, there are a few you can remember where he has kind of gotten caught and he got beat. He will get better as he gets older and more experienced in getting to higher levels. His feet will help him even more.”

When asked if McClaughry’s fielding makes it easier for him as a pitcher, Nichols made his confidence level in the junior shortstop clear.

“It helps a lot just because I know if it is hit to him, I know it is going to be an out,” Nichols said. 

Second baseman Garen Caulfield lives with McClaughry, so he gets a bit more of an inside look at him that most people don’t. 

“[McClaughry] is all about baseball,” Caulfield said. “He is pretty hard on himself when he doesn’t do well, and he is very committed to being the best that he can be. I admire that about him.”

Caulfield talked about McClaughry’s experience and how that has helped him have a short memory on the field.

“It’s not about one game or one bad game or one good game either,” Caulfield said. “It is just about coming to the next game and getting after it again.”

RELATED: The Arizona baseball team picked up the series win against No. 2 Oregon State this weekend at Hi Corbett Field 

Hale said he already started to assemble a case for McClaughry to be the 2022 Pac-12 Defensive Player of the Year. 

“Obviously, the errors are one thing,” Hale said. “I mean, there are some guys that have one or two errors, but they’re not at a premium position like shortstop.”

Hale referred back to the series this past weekend against Oregon State with how many huge plays McClaughry made on the field.

“If he doesn’t make one of those plays, it could cost us two or three runs,” Hale said. “In the last inning, making the play up the middle. I could think in my mind going through that whole series the number of plays he made.”

The Wildcats will close the regular season on the road this weekend against the University of Oregon with games on Thursday, Friday and Saturday. The first pitch on Thursday is scheduled for 6 p.m. MST.

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