CWS Primer: Arizona Wildcats
An Old Regular Comes Back To Omaha
Omaha History: 16th CWS appearance, 3 Titles
Team Overview: The Arizona Wildcats are back in the CWS for the first time since 2004. Their team batting average of .333 is good enough for fourth in the NCAA, and only three of their regular starters posted a batting average of under .326. The Wildcats also possess plenty of pop, but instead of hitting homeruns they pepper the power alleys with doubles. Their 126 doubles ranks twelfth in the country. On the mound, the Wildcats have shown some weakness. Their staff ace, Kurt Heyer, produces like a true number one, but beyond him the staff gets shaky. There’s been no consistency in the rest of their rotation. And, the Wildcats team ERA sits at nearly four. This is a team that likes to beat you on offense and hope their pitching can hold onto the lead.
Road To Omaha: Arizona looked the part of a juggernaut on their way to the CWS. They didn’t lose a single game in their region, and they swept St. John’s in the super regional.
Players To Watch: Kurt Heyer is one of the top arms in the nation. He struck out 102 batters and tossed seven complete games. His 2.28 ERA ranks in the top 50 among starting pitchers, and very few pitchers in the country piled up more than Heyer’s 138 innings. The St. Louis draft pick is an absolute workhorse who will need to pick-up more than one win if the Wildcats are to bring home a title. The Wildcats are one of the best hitting teams in the country, and Johnny Field is arguably their best hitter. Field ranks among the NCAA’s best with a .383 average. He’s also a speed demon who racked up eleven steals and 67 runs.
Will Take Home The Title If…: If the Wildcats used the large power alleys at TD Ameritrade like they use the big gaps at their home park they could be very dangerous. Every hitter in the Arizona lineup features line drive, gap-to-gap power. If they start piling up doubles and grabbing extra bases on the base paths they could wind up with title number four.
A Quick Trip If: If the lack of pitching depth is exposed and the mashers at the CWS start racking up runs in bunches the Wildcats could find themselves back in Tucson after just two games.
Why Omaha Should Cheer For Them: Arizona pitching coach Shaun Cole played his college ball at William Penn in Oskaloosa, Iowa. Maybe CWS fans from the other side of the river will rally behind a local connection to the Hawkeye state.