Overall Rank: #22
Conference Rank: #5 PAC-12
Arizona finished 2011 just one win from a Super Regional appearance. Head coach Andy Lopez took the Wildcats to the tournament in back-to-back years and for the seventh time in nine years. Impressive statistically, they ranked third nationally hitting .320. It is the eighth consecutive season Arizona had an average over .300. The Wildcats defense finished with a .976 fielding percentage and the pitching staff posted its lowest ERA in 35 years (3.57). Coach Lopez and Arizona open 2012 by moving into a new home, Hi Corbett Field. The Wildcats will enjoy the home field in 20 of their first 22 games and 35 of their regular season 55.
2011: 39-21, 15-12
2011 Postseason: NCAA, Eliminated in College Station Regional (losses to Seton Hall and Texas A&M)
Coach: Andy Lopez, 11th Season
Four juniors and one sophomore return from the starting lineup. Outfielder Richard Joey leads the way, batting .347 in 2011. The junior All-Conference selection collected 86 hits, 11 doubles, stole 16 bases and drove in 37. Short stop Alex Mejia was also All-Conference, hitting .335 with 12 doubles and 42 RBI. He was second in league play batting .396. Robert Refsynder earned All-Conference honors in the outfield. The junior hit .320, had 13 doubles, mashed six home runs, tallied 55 RBI and was perfect in 81 tries in the grass, fielding 1.000. Junior Seth Mejias-Brean hit .313 and sophomore Johnny Field hit .297. The appropriately named Field is versatile, playing both infield and outfield. He hit .297 last season, with 15 doubles, knocking in 32.
All-American Kurt Heyer comes back to be the ace of the Wildcat staff. The junior right hander started 20 games in 2011. He picked up eight wins with a 2.41 ERA, striking out 134 in 138 innings. Sophomore Konner Wade was 3-0 as a freshman with a 3.21 ERA. Relievers Jacob Doyle and Nick Cunningham had 12 and 15 appearances last season, each earning one save.
Who to Watch:
Coach Lopez brings in a strong group of newcomers. Among them are six freshmen who were drafted last June but chose Arizona. Catcher David Schuknecht was picked in the 12th round of the amateur draft by the Rockies. As a senior at Palm Desert High he hit .411 and drove in 25. Tyler Parmenter out of Cibola High in Yuma, Arizona hit .500 over his prep career. The infielder was drafted in the 15th round by Tampa Bay. The Yankees 16th round pick Mathew Troupe posted a 1.00 ERA at Chaminade High School and struck out 91 while only allowing opponents a .157 batting average. Rylie Moore, the Phillies 21st round pick, is a switch hitting catcher. Trent Gilbert is a left-hand hitting shortstop. At Torrance High School, the infielder hit .441 with a .816 slugging percentage. Gilbert was a 40th round pick of the Marlins. Ethan Springston, an outfielder from Seton Catholic Prep, was the Yankees 47th round draftee. He hit .533 with 11 home runs and 54 RBI his senior season.
Arizona looks to continue its recent success in its new home in 2012 and with the returning core the Wildcats should have a good chance. Coach Lopez will field five position players and two starting pitchers from a solid 2011 team. With the addition of a large and talented freshman class and a large number of home games in their new park, Arizona will be ready to be competitive in the PAC-12 and return to the NCAA tournament for the third year in a row.
Projected Postseason: NCAA
At Bats: Joey Rickard, OF, 248
Hits: Joey Rickard, OF, 86
Home Runs: Robert Refsnyder, OF, 6
RBIs: Robert Refsnyder, OF, 55
Runs: Robert Refsnyder, OF, 51
Stolen Bases: Joey Rickard, OF, 16
Wins: Kurt Heyer, P, 8
Innings Pitched: Kurt Heyer, P, 138
Strikeouts: Kurt Heyer, P, 134
Saves: Jacob Doyle, P, 1; Nick Cunningham, P, 1