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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


Arizona baseball season comes to a close

Bill Mason, Cat Tran Driver (Brown hair) Dennis Cady, Cat Tran Driver (black and white striped shirt) AJ Dowgiert, Cat Tran Driver (Plaid/Checkered Shirt)

Andy Lopez’s final season at the helm of Arizona baseball offered the coach a bittersweet bag of memories.

On one hand, the Wildcats had three players who put together a brilliant season.

Few teams in the country could boast a better trio than Arizona’s Scott Kingery, Kevin Newman and Bobby Dalbec, who led the Wildcats to a 31-24 overall record in 2015.

However, the team failed to reach the postseason for a third straight season, which is in part what pushed Lopez into retirement.

The UA began the campaign with a strong start, winning its first five games. Arizona also earned a win over a top-25 Rice team in an early non-conference series.

Heading into Pac-12 Conference play, it looked like the Wildcats were on track to reach the NCAA Tournament. Through 20 games, their record stood at 16-4, matching the best start in Lopez’s tenure.

Then came the bumps in the road.

First, Arizona lost a home-series to conference bottom-feeder Utah. A few weeks later, following a pair of impressive sweeps of Oregon and Stanford, the Wildcats were swept at home by USC.

The home-sweep kicked off a 13-game stretch in which Arizona went 2-11, effectively eliminating the UA from postseason contention.

There were a few bright spots down the course of league play. The Wildcats took a game from ASU in Tempe and later destroyed the Sun Devils 17-6 at home.

Nonetheless, ASU would win the rivalry series three games to two.

After suffering a pair of series losses to Washington and UCLA to close Pac-12 play, Arizona ended the season winning three of its last four games.

The final home-stand served as a goodbye to the Wildcats’ seniors, as well as Kingery and Newman.

Kingery had a season for the record books. The junior infielder was named Pac-12 Conference Player of the Year last week after leading the league with a .392 batting average; the Philadelphia Phillies rewarded Kingery by drafting the Phoenix native in the second round of the 2015 Major League Baseball draft June 8.

Kingery did just about everything a coach could ask for. He hit for contact (92 base hits), hit for power (.561 slugging percentage) and was a defensive stalemate at second base.

Standing on the other side of the middle infield was Newman, who earned All-Conference honors for the third time in his career. His last season at Arizona was arguably his best.

Newman, a first-round MLB draft pick this year to the Pittsburgh Pirates, batted .370 at the plate and led the team with 19 doubles. He was also the conference leader in stolen bases at 22.

Joining Kingery and Newman with All-Pac-12 honors was Dalbec, a sophomore who thrived on the mound and at the plate.

Dalbec finished the year with a 3.21 ERA in 21 appearances. Down the stretch, he became arguably Arizona’s most reliable pitcher.

He batted .319 at the plate and hit 15 home runs, the most in the Pac-12.

Dalbec is expected to be Arizona’s top returning player next season. 


Follow Ezra Amacher on Twitter.

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