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The Daily Wildcat

 

Arizona baseball coach Lopez retires after 14-year UA career

Coach+Andy+Lopez+signals+from+the+dugout+during+Arizonas+2-1+win+against+Hawaii+at+Hi+Corbett+Field+on+Saturday+night.
Rebecca Noble

Coach Andy Lopez signals from the dugout during Arizona’s 2-1 win against Hawai’i at Hi Corbett Field on Saturday night.

The Arizona Wildcats baseball head coach Andy Lopez tipped his cap one last time Monday after the 33-year coaching veteran announced his retirement from coaching at Arizona.

The 61-year-old Lopez controlled the reigns of the Arizona baseball program for 14 seasons and ended his career Sunday night after the Wildcats defeated the Hawai’i Rainbow Warriors 8-1, which also put the lid to the 2015 Arizona baseball season.

“For the past 14 years, I have been extremely honored to be a part of the Arizona baseball program,” Lopez said in a statement released by Arizona Athletics. “This is a special place with many special people, and I thank everyone at The University of Arizona for the opportunity to finish my career here.”

Before coaching in the old pueblo, Lopez had coaching stints at Cal State Dominguez Hills, Florida as well as earning a national championship in 1992 with Pepperdine.

At Arizona, Lopez brushed off the cob webs from the Jerry Kindall days leading the Wildcats to their first College World Series since 1986, their first regional titles since 1986, their first-ever super regional titles and their first 40-win season 1989. In Arizona’s first season from transferring from Jerry Kindall Field at Frank Sancet Stadium to Hi-Corbett Field in 2012, Arizona became Pac-12 co-champions and hosted the NCAA Tucson Regional and NCAA Super Regional. That stint would be the first time Arizona hosted postseason games since 1992.

Lopez didn’t stop there in 2012 as the veteran head coach placed the Wildcats in the national spotlight leading Arizona to a 10-0 record in the post season en route to the school’s 16th all-time College World Series.

Arizona would continue to pick at the school’s record books as the Wildcats defeated two-time defending champions South Carolina in a best-of-three championship series in Omaha, Neb. Arizona earned their fourth national title in program history, which would also mark Lopez’s second title as a head coach becoming just the second NCAA Division I head coach to lead two different schools to a national championship

Lopez would be recognized in the same season earning Pac-12 Coach of the Year and was named national coach of the year by Collegiate Baseball as well as the American Baseball Coaches Association.

“Andy Lopez is one of the great coaches college athletics has ever seen, more importantly he is a better man,” said UA Director of Athletics Greg Byrne said in the release. “We’ve been so fortunate to have Andy as the leader of our baseball program for the last 14 years. While we’ll certainly miss his presence on a day-to-day basis, Andy will forever be engrained in the history of Arizona baseball and remembered for his ability to lead and mentor young men. We can’t thank him enough for all he has done for both the program and Arizona Athletics as a whole.”

Developing players was a coaching trait that kept Lopez in Arizona as he had four players selected in the first round and a total of 58 players picked by Major League teams. Those numbers are certain to increase, as there will be a handful of draft hopefuls this season including potential first-round pick Kevin Newman.

There will be many rumors hovering the baseball program on who will be the successor for Lopez and who has the potential to pick up the program where Lopez left it.

“I have loved playing and coaching this game, and it has taken to me all over the world. I have been fortunate to develop life-long relationships that I cherish each and every day, and now I can dedicate more time to the people that mean the most to me,” Lopez said.

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