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The Daily Wildcat

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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

    Baseballers hit the books

    Sophomore lefthander Matt Denker signs autographs for fourth-graders from Wilson K-8 yesterday at Sancet Stadium. The Arizona baseball team read to and signed autographs for the Tucson students.
    Sophomore lefthander Matt Denker signs autographs for fourth-graders from Wilson K-8 yesterday at Sancet Stadium. The Arizona baseball team read to and signed autographs for the Tucson students.

    Though it’s on the verge of hosting its second series of the year, the Arizona baseball team played host to a different kind of visitor yesterday: Richard B. Wilson K-8 School.

    The students from the school, who visited Sancet Stadium as part of a field trip to the UA that included a look at McKale Center’s Hall of Champions, spread out on the stadium’s newly installed grass berms, reading various books with members of the Wildcats.

    Star-struck Jade Gutierrez, a fourth-grader at Wilson K-8, said that the players taking the time out to read with her meant the world to her.

    “”It’s really, really cool,”” she said from the Wildcats’ batting cages, where she was reading with a group of her classmates and some members of the team. “”It’s a great experience.

    “”I got a lot of signatures, and that was really cool,”” she continued. “”I mean they’re on TV and stuff, and its not often you get to meet them.””

    Started under former Arizona baseball head coach Jerry Stitt, the tradition of taking a day to read with local students is something that current Arizona head coach Andy Lopez said he was glad to continue, saying it was good to give back to the community.

    Team hopes surge in attendance continues

    A team that averaged 797 fans through the first series of the year last season – which, coincidentally, was against this weekend’s opponent, New Mexico – the Wildcats improved that figure by 361 fans to 1,158 in this year’s season-opening series Feb. 3-5 against Loyola Marymount.

    To put the difference in perspective, consider that during last season’s opening series against the Lobos, a total of 2,389 fans passed through Sancet’s gates. On opening day this season, the team pulled in 2,205 fans.

    “”It’s always good to get the fans here. That’s your home field advantage,”” redshirt freshman closer Daniel Schlereth said. “”I think that helps – not to an extent that that would change a ballgame – but it helps.””

    “”I never understood why fans wouldn’t want to come out,”” said junior pitcher Mark Melancon, who will start Friday’s game. “”We’re a top-10 team. I don’t see why you wouldn’t.

    “”I think we established a good fan base last year and hopefully it’ll turn out good this year.””

    Defense tightens screws

    After committing 11 errors at home against Loyola Marymount to open the season, the Wildcats cut that number to four against University of California-Riverside last weekend.

    “”We’re such a young team from a standpoint of young and new,”” Lopez said. “”There’s a time of mending and cohesiveness and communicating with each other and just getting used to each other, and it takes time.””

    Now, he said, the team is getting more comfortable on the field.

    “”They show up every day, and it’s like, ‘OK, he’s been there the last two nights and the groundball that’s hit, I know he can get it,’ or ‘I have to go get it,'”” he said. “”When you have new people, it’s, ‘Do I get that?'””

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