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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

Column: Arizona baseball has big test upcoming on schedule

Arizona+baseball+pitcher+Tyger+Talley+%2819%29+throws+a+pitch+during+Arizonas+6-4+loss+against+Rice+on+Feb.+22+at+Hi+Corbett+Field.+Talley+and+the+Wildcats+have+a+great+opportunity+to+improve+against+Oregon+this+weekend.
Emily Gauci

Arizona baseball pitcher Tyger Talley (19) throws a pitch during Arizona’s 6-4 loss against Rice on Feb. 22 at Hi Corbett Field. Talley and the Wildcats have a great opportunity to improve against Oregon this weekend.

We all know March Madness is upon us, and basketball is the theme this month, especially at Arizona, but let’s not forget about the Arizona baseball team making history on Sunday. For the first time ever, Arizona swept Stanford at the Cardinal’s home field after a 6-0 shutout pitched by Tyger Talley.

After dropping its first Pac-12 Conference series to Utah, this was probably the best way Arizona could bounce back and get back in the thick of things.

Arizona joins Oregon State and ASU with a 4-2 conference record, placing them in the top half of the conference standings.

Although Oregon started off its season by crushing rankings and cruising to the best record in the Pac-12, the Ducks have only won two conference games and have dropped to seventh place in the conference.

There are only two ways this weekend’s series with Oregon could go for Arizona. Either Oregon comes prepared and tired of losing, or Arizona looks to continue sweeping, or at least winning, conference series.

Arizona leads the Pac-12 in team batting but falls near the bottom in team pitching.

Pitching has been a factor for Arizona all season, considering the Friday night rotation changed as the team hit conference play. The weekend rotation now consists of Cody Hamlin, Robby Medel and Tyger Talley.

Arizona baseball head coach Andy Lopez said that Talley has been so efficient this season because of his fastball location.

“That sounds like the perfect coach’s line, but that is really what it is,” Lopez said. “He’s been really good with his fastball location.”

With Talley doing his job, Lopez said the other two weekend starters still have room for improvements.

“Robby and I had a good conversation, and he’s frustrated,” Lopez said. “He says ‘Coach, I have to go for more than four innings,’ and I said ‘Yeah, that’s probably the roll.’”

Arizona shouldn’t be too concerned on offense, as the Wildcats have players like second baseman Scott Kingery and shortstop Kevin Newman.

Kingery is hitting .450 with 49 hits and 33 runs scored, and Newman has recorded 46 hits and 28 runs to go with a .438 batting average, making them two of four players who are hitting above .400 in the Pac-12.

Right fielder Zach Gibbons, who had a slow start to the season, has raised his batting average to .353.

Winning the Oregon series is crucial for Arizona to be able to build the confidence it needs to play USC and ASU down the road, two squads that are at their highest peaks right now.

Arizona’s matchup with Oregon State on the road may present one of its tougher matchups as well.

This weekend is a test for Arizona. If the Wildcats pass, they should be able to keep rolling through conference play.

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Follow Rose Aly Valenzuela on Twitter.

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