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The Daily Wildcat

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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

Batter up

Batter+up

A postseason appearance was all Arizona head coach Andy Lopez wanted out of his team a year ago, but that won’t cut it for this year’s team.

“”It was a reality that with all of the freshmen playing (last season), you need that experience of playing in the postseason,”” Lopez said. “”I would hope that people expect us to be good. I would expect these guys to play well.””

A key to building off of last year’s regional loss to Texas Christian University is the continued development of Kurt Heyer. As a freshman in the 2010 season, Heyer led all Arizona pitchers with a 3.26 ERA over 102 innings pitched on his way to being named to the Yahoo Sports and Baseball America Freshman All-American teams.

“”I didn’t really expect to do that well last year, but there’s higher expectations for all of us now coming into this year,”” said Heyer, who didn’t pitch during the summer after surpassing his innings limit last season.

“”Coach Lopez didn’t want me to pitch and I respect him for that,”” Heyer said. “”I was a little down (at first), but it’s going to help me in the long run. I didn’t want to get hurt or anything like that.””

Pitching isn’t the only area the Wildcats are returning experience. UA brings back all eight position players from of last year’s 34-win squad, including All-Pacific 10 Conference right fielder Steve Selsky who led Arizona with a .370 batting average and nine home runs.

“”I think we’re going to be really successful (this season),”” Selsky said. “”Everyone that’s returning from last year has been to a regional, and that’s something that a lot of teams can’t say they have.””

Selsky, now a junior, said that the biggest difference between this and last year’s team is the level of maturity on the roster.

“”I can’t really explain how much you learn and how much experience you gain (in a year),”” Selsky said. “”But it really does play a role in how the season is going to play out.””

Although the Wildcats return all but two players off of last season’s team, their most important returnee may be second baseman Bryce Ortega, who missed all of Pac-10 play last season after suffering two herniated discs in his back.

“”We’re going to take it easy with him over the course of the season in terms of practice,”” Lopez said. “”I don’t know if he’ll ever be over (his injury), but he looks real good right now. He looks strong and he looks healthy. I think he’s as important a cog as we have.””

Lopez hopes that all of Arizona’s experience will result in a successful season in 2011.

“”There’s just a real comfort,”” Lopez said. “”I’ll be surprised if they don’t go out and play good baseball.””

 

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