UA Baseball Arrives in Fort Worth
June 3, 2010
FORT WORTH, Texas – The Arizona baseball team arrived in Fort Worth, Texas, on Wednesday evening in advance of the 2010 NCAA Fort Worth Regional hosted by Texas Christian University June 4-7 at Lupton Stadium.
The Wildcats, the region’s No. 3 seed, hit the field for a 75-minutes practice session at 1 p.m. CDT today. Players and coaches were in good spirits as the final preparations for tomorrow’s regional opener are well under way.
Head coach Andy Lopez and student-athlete representatives Rafael Valenzuela and Steve Selsky met with media members following the practice. Lopez and his players fielded questions about the youthfulness of the squad and the strength of the regional competition, which includes UA’s Friday foe, No. 2 Baylor. The Bears finished 34-23 on the season and reached the Big 12 Championship game last weekend.
Video of the press conference is available here.
Lopez announced that freshman Kurt Heyer will take the mound for the Wildcats on Friday. Coaches considered countering the left-hand dominated batting order of the Bears with a left-handed pitcher. But Heyer, who has been the club’s Friday night pitcher all season, will make his postseason debut along with a handful of other freshman and sophomores who have not experienced regional action before.
First pitch is scheduled for 2 p.m. CDT at Lupton Stadium. Host TCU, the region’s No. 1 seed, will take on Lamar at 7 p.m. CDT. The winners will meet up on Saturday at 7 p.m., with the loses squaring off at 2 p.m.
All Arizona games will be broadcast live on KCUB 1290-AM in Tucson and are available to Arizona Athletics All-Access subscribers on www.arizonawildcats.com.
Live video of the games will be available for all of the games. The Arizona-Baylor matchup can be seen here live once it begins on Friday.
NCAA Baseball Regional Pre-Tournament Press Conference (Courtesy TCU Media Relations)
Arizona Head Coach Andy Lopez
“We are excited to be here. We are a very young team. We are a little banged up right now. With all that this team has accomplished so far and for it being so young, I think we’re really excited. With 28 years of coaching experience I can say this with confidence, this is a great group of student athletes. There are great off the field, and are pretty good players, too.”
On trying to rebound from recent losses:
“The things that we talk about from day one are about showing up—the ability to play baseball, the ability to throw strikes, the ability to catch the baseball, the ability to make the other team play catch. If you look at the games we lost, against UCLA we almost took two out of three, Arizona State we lost a couple tight games and could have won two of three there. So I’m not concerned. I am pretty realistic.”
On how the team is doing now:
“It’s a young team that is really beat up. Our closer will pitch with a broken wrist this weekend. You will see that firsthand this weekend, and it’s something I’ve never experienced as a coach. Our starting second baseman is wearing a back brace. Our catcher has a broken toe from a foul tip. Things like that have happened, but I’m not really concerned. We just have to play the game. It’s a great tournament with great teams, we just have to play the game.'
On what he is looking to get out of this weekend’s play:
“It’s a funny game. We just play it hard. There are no answers. In 1998 I took a team to Omaha that was the No. 1 one team in the nation and had five future big leaguers on it. We didn’t win a national championship. In 1992, I took a team from Pepperdine University and nobody even knew our name, but we got hot and won a national championship. So on paper, we have no chance. But I learned a long time ago that it’s a funny game and you just have to play it hard. This group will play hard. We never suit up thinking we’re going to get beat. If we play the game soundly, we’ll be alright.”
On Arizona’s possible pitching lineup:
“We’ll go with what we’ve been doing. We’ll go with Kurt Heyer tomorrow afternoon, and then the second game we’ll go with Kyle Simon. I hope we need a third starter, and if that time comes we’ll figure it out. It’s kind of what we’ve had to do. It’s an amazing group for me. Our Friday night starter is a freshman, our closer, for the most part, is a freshman and our setup man is a freshman. Now it’s a sophomore closing. Our Saturday guy’s been a sophomore. Our Sunday guy’s been a freshman. We start as many as five or six freshmen in the field. We’re a young group. They’ve hung in there pretty well. Started off well then struggled a bit at the end, but they’ll recover.'
On originally considering starting a lefthander vs. Baylor:
“That was a thought because Baylor has a lot of lefthanded bats, but I woke up this morning and decided we were going to go with Kurt Heyer.
“I threw our pens the last couple days with (Vincent) Littleman in mind, our freshman lefthander. I thought about the matchup, but Kurt’s a young guy who’s pitched in the Friday night slot for us as a freshman and has every reason to have 10 wins as a freshman. According to the RPI, the Pac 10 is the No. 1 conference in the nation, and he’s been our Friday night guy on every Pac 10 weekend, so we’ll go with him.'
Sophomore 2B Rafael Valenzuela
On being the underdog:
“I think everyone needs to get hot. There are 64 teams in the tournament, and anyone can get hot at anytime. I’m just hoping it’s going to be us this weekend.
“We do have a lot of freshmen, a lot of young guys, so on paper it may not look good, but once we get out on the field I’m sure it’s going to be fine.”
Sophomore OF Steve Selsky
On playing a tought Pac 10 schedule will benefit them:
“We played Arizona State when they were No. 1 and beat them, played Arizona State when they were No. 2 and beat them and played UCLA when they were No. 4 or 5 and beat them. It definitely has given us an edge knowing that we can beat anyone at anytime.”