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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

Baseball hosts Meet the Team event over weekend

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File Photo / The Daily Wildcat

Arizona baseball infielder Kevin Newman (2) hits during Arizona’s 6-5 win against UCLA at Hi Corbett Field on April 13, 2014. Newman and the Wildcats hold a Meet the Team event this Saturday. 

It’s been a while since Arizona baseball fans filled the stands at Hi Corbett Field to cheer on the Wildcats: 256 days to be exact. After a short season last year, supporters can return to the ballpark this Saturday, for Arizona’s annual Meet The Team day.

The Wildcats struggled through a 22-33 season in 2014, missing the regional cutoff for just the third time in head coach Andy Lopez’s career at UA, and produced the school’s worst baseball record since the Jerry Kindall era in 1995.
This year, a host of new recruits and returning preseason All-Americans have members of the team saying they are back on the right track.

The open scrimmage will be a time for fans to witness one of the last battles for a starting position for the season opener against Eastern Michigan next Friday.

“We’re just going to try to get out and get back to the Arizona way,” said All-American junior infielder Kevin Newman. “We’re building up towards our season and working as hard as we can day to day.”

Newman and fellow preseason award winners infielders Scott Kingery and Bobby Dalbec are the only defensive players with definite starting positions next week. Kingery will start at second base, Newman at shortstop and Dalbec at third.

The battle for first base is still a toss-up between returner Michael Hoard, redshirt freshman Casey Bowman and freshman JJ Matijevic.

“I think it’s been good this fall,” Hoard, a Tucson native, said about the competition. “Working with [Matijevic] and Bowman at first base, I think we have had some really good competition.”

Surprise returner Riley Moore is dueling with freshman Handsome Monica, who Lopez said has made a big run this past week for the starting catching position after not having been drafted last summer.

The outfield is another gray area for the Wildcats. While returners Tyler Krause and Zach Gibbons have been putting in considerable practice time at their respective positions in right and left field, junior college transfers Ryan Aguilar and Justin Behnke are also in the running for a starting spot.

With so much yet to be determined, Lopez said he is happy with where his team is at and he’s ready to show Tucson what this baseball program is bringing to the diamond this season.

“I like this and I like Saturday,” Lopez said. “I like the fact that the fans can come down and meet a Kevin Newman or a Riley Moore, people that are going to be really successful in baseball and in life.”

Fans in attendance will have a chance to honor Arizona’s winningest baseball team, the 1974 team that went 58-6 under Kindall before losing to the University of Northern Colorado in regional playoffs.

After the scrimmage, there will be an on-field meet and greet where fans can get posters and memorabilia signed by the players and coaches. Single-game tickets and ticket packages will also be available for purchase.

“If it were me, I would have taken advantage of this,” Lopez said. “I would have wanted to meet these guys, see who they are and what it’s all about.”

The preseason kickoff event is free to the public and expected to start at 11 a.m., with doors opening at 10 a.m.

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Follow Nicole Cousins on Twitter.

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