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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

    Transfers usher in new baseball generation

    Arizona second baseman Colt Sedbrook dives for a base during the Wildcats weekend series against Loyola Marymount. Sedbrook, a junior, is one of three Wildcats from a junior college who are starting for Andy Lopezs team this season.
    Arizona second baseman Colt Sedbrook dives for a base during the Wildcats’ weekend series against Loyola Marymount. Sedbrook, a junior, is one of three Wildcats from a junior college who are starting for Andy Lopez’s team this season.

    Unlike their major league counterparts, college baseball programs don’t have the luxury of a minor league farm system to develop talent.

    But don’t tell that to Arizona head coach Andy Lopez and his counterpart at Santa Rosa Junior College, located north of the Bay Area in Santa Rosa, Calif.

    “”He was a good player for me, and we’ve been dear friends,”” Lopez said of Bear Cubs coach Damon Neidlinger, who played under Lopez in the mid 1980s at Cal State-Dominguez Hills.

    “”He knows what we look for in our players because he played for me,”” Lopez added. “”He usually gets us in contact with them, and we’ve been pretty fortunate.””

    As a result of the relationship between Neidlinger and Lopez, a pipeline has been created from Santa Rosa to Tucson that has included Richie Gardner, a sixth-round draft pick in 2003 after one year with the Wildcats. Gardner, now pitching for the Cincinnati Reds’ Double-A affiliate, posted a 9-3 record in his junior year with the Wildcats.

    Now Wildcats, Santa Rosa junior transfers Stephen Pearson and Konrad Schmidt, both natives of Petaluma, Calif., who bat second and third respectively in the Arizona lineup, continue the tradition.

    And the transition from junior college to a nationally-recognized Division I baseball program couldn’t have been easier.

    “”We hit back-to-back too at the JC,”” said Pearson, the Wildcats’ everyday first baseman. “”(Neidlinger) is a big reason why we’re both here. (Arizona is) the closest that we’re going to get to what our program was. We knew what to expect. Pretty much all the drills we do are drills we did for two years at the JC.””

    Schmidt, Arizona’s starting catcher, said there’s plenty of good talent in junior college, especially in California.

    “”There’s so many ballplayers. Kids get overlooked,”” he said. “”It’s made it real easy for me to come in here. It’s the same program too. Our program (at Santa Rosa) matched up like this program, and it definitely prepared me to make an impact right away.””

    Pearson and Schmidt are two of six junior college transfers new to the program this year, including sophomore starting second baseman Colt Sedbrook, a transfer from Dixie State College in Utah.

    Sedbrook said that in some aspects, playing junior college baseball was an awkward

    transition.

    “”Going to my junior college, we had to swing a wood bat, so we didn’t have the chance to swing an aluminum bat,”” Sedbrook said. “”Coming from a wood bat to an aluminum bat, I felt very comfortable. It was frustrating going to a junior college, but I think going to a junior college prepared me for this.””

    In last weekend’s season-opening series over Loyola Marymount, in which Arizona took two out of three, Sedbrook, Pearson and Schmidt combined for 11 hits and four RBIs.

    “”You hope that when you have junior college guys that they’re impact guys,”” Lopez said after Arizona’s 10-5 win over the Lions on Friday. “”They’re going to come in and make an impact in your program. After tonight, we couldn’t ask for anything more.””

    Lopez was a junior college player himself, as he played for Los Angeles Harbor Community College for two seasons before transferring to UCLA.

    “”They are mature physically, and I want to say they are more mature mentally, and they’ll prove that when we go on the road,”” he said. “”I was a junior college player, and I was brought into UCLA to be an impact guy. In other words, we’re not bringing you here to watch, you’re coming here to play.””

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