Baseball Plays for Series Sweep on Sunday
TUCSON, Ariz. — The Arizona Wildcats (4-2) and Southeastern Louisiana Lions (3-2) finish their four-game set at Hi Corbett Field on Sunday morning. First pitch is scheduled for 10:00 a.m. MST with a free live webcast on ArizonaWildcats.com.
Arizona opened their season last weekend with a series split against the Ball State Cardinals. The Wildcats won in shutout fashion on opening night, 3-0, and scored in every inning of the Monday morning finale to secure an 11-5 victory and the 2-2 split.
Southeastern Louisiana also kicked off their 2021 campaign last weekend. The Lions came away with a 3-0 series sweep in which they swept their opponent by a combined score 66-0.
A complete series preview is below.
|Date||Time (MST) / Result||Arizona Pitcher||SE Louisiana Pitcher|
|Thursday, Feb. 25||W, 7-4|
|Friday, Feb. 26||W, 13-11|
|Saturday, Feb. 27||W, 4-3|
|Sunday, Feb. 28||10:00 AM||RHP TJ Nichols (1-0, 3.60)||RHP Grant Upton (1-0, 0.00)|
- Arizona's second weekend of play in 2021 will see the Wildcats host the Southeastern Louisiana Lions for a four-game series this Thursday-Sunday at Hi Corbett Field. This is the first-ever meeting between the two programs.
- The Wildcats remain ranked in many major national polls, checking in at No. 19 according to Perfect Game, No. 23 by Baseball America, No. 24 from Collegiate Baseball, and No. 29 from the NCBWA.
- Arizona has scored at least one run in 113 straight games. They have not suffered a shutout loss since falling 1-0 at Washington on March 17, 2018. Their 113-game scoring streak is the longest active streak in the Pac-12.
- Under head coach Jay Johnson, the Wildcats have produced a record of 104-40 against non-conference opponents. Their winning percentage of .722 in non-conference games is the second-best mark in the Pac-12 Conference.
- Arizona's 165 wins since 2016 are the third-most in the Pac-12 Conference, behind only Oregon State (190) and Stanford (169). Head coach Jay Johnson's .627 winning percentage at Arizona is the second-best mark by a Wildcats head coach in the modern era (1950-current).
- Across four games on opening weekend, the Wildcats offense drew an astounding 34 walks. Arizona's 34 walks currently rank No. 1 in the nation and are three more than second-place Southeastern Louisiana, this weekend's opponent.
SOME SERIES THEMES: The Arizona Wildcats (2-2) welcome the Southeasten Louisiana Lions (3-0) to Hi Corbett Field for a four-game series this Thursday through Sunday...This weekend will be the first-ever games played between the two programs, making the Lions one of four opponents that Arizona plays for the first time in 2021 (also: Ball State, Dallas Baptist, and Dixie State)...The Wildcats remain ranked in four major national polls, currently checking in at No. 19 by Perfect Game, No. 23 by Baseball America, No. 24 from Collegiate Baseball, and No. 29 from the NCBWA...Arizona saw contributions from eight newcomers over opening weekend, including five appearances from true freshmen...3B/1B Jacob Berry, C Daniel Susac, OF Chase Davis, RHP TJ Nichols, and LHP Riley Cooper all made their collegiate debuts for the Wildcats against Ball State...Outfielder Ryan Holgate picked up right where he left off in the shortened 2020 season, going 6-for-14 (.429) with four runs scored, two extra-base hits, and seven RBI in Arizona's first four games...Holgate's .429 batting average currently ranks tied for eighth in the Pac-12 Conference...Southeastern Louisiana is led by eighth-year head coach Matt Riser...In seven prior seasons with the Lions, Riser led the program to a 233-144 (.618) record and a 126-57 (.689) mark in Southland Conference play...Under Riser's direction, the Lions have earned three NCAA Tournament bids and won the Southland Conference twice...Southeastern Louisiana opened the year with a three-game sweep of Mississippi Valley State at home...During their opening weekend sweep, the Lions out-scored the Delta Devils 66-0.
FAST STARTERS: Under head coach Jay Johnson, the Wildcats have combined to post a record of 32-14 during the month of February, good enough for a winning percentage of .696. From 2016-20, Arizona has never lost more than three games in the opening month of the season. During that stretch the successes have largely been credited to the Wildcats offense, which hit north of .290 four times in six years. However, the 2018 season was the opposite story, with Arizona's pitching staff driving the bus with a 2.01 ERA while the offense combined to hit .221.
RUNNING WILD: Arizona has scored at least one run in 113 straight games — they have not suffered a shutout loss since falling 1-0 at Washington on March 17, 2018. The Wildcats 113-game scoring streak is the longest active streak in the Pac-12 and 25 more games than the next closest team, UCLA (88 games). Over the course of their 113-game scoring stretch, Arizona has been held to three runs or fewer just 18 times. On the flip side, during the streak they have scored five or more runs 52 times. UCLA and USC — the teams with the second- and third-longest scoring streaks, respectively — were both last shut out by pitching staffs coaches by current Arizona associate head coach Nate Yeskie.
Active Pac-12 Scoring Streaks
|School||Scoring Streak||Last Shutout Loss (Score)|
|Arizona||113 games||March 17, 2018 at Washington (0-1)|
|UCLA||88 games||May 24, 2018 at Oregon State (0-2)|
|USC||79 games||May 18, 2018 vs. Oregon State (0-4)|
|Stanford||63 games||March 7, 2019 vs. Texas (0-4)|
|Oregon||33 games||April 20, 2019 vs. Stanford (0-10)|
|Washington State||28 games||May 11, 2019 vs. UCLA (0-10)|
|Arizona State||17 games||Feb. 15, 2020 vs. Michigan (0-5)|
|Utah||8 games||Feb. 28, 2020 at UT Arlington (0-6)|
|California||8 games||March 4, 2020 vs. Michigan (0-5)|
|Oregon State||5 game||March 7, 2020 vs. UCSB (0-4)|
|Washington||4 game||March 7, 2020 vs. Utah Valley (0-1)|
POLL POSITION: The Wildcats remain ranked in four major national polls following the first week of play. Arizona is currently ranked No. 19 by Perfect Game, No. 23 by Baseball America, No. 24 by Collegiate Baseball, and No. 29 by the NCBWA. Arizona opened the season ranked by every major poll, and earned a preseason ranking from Collegiate Baseball for the fifth year in a row. The only Pac-12 Conference program currently ranked in the D1Baseball poll is UCLA, who enter the weekend ranked No. 8.
NEVER ENOUGH: In Monday's series finale against Ball State, the Arizona offense scored at least one run in every inning en route to an 11-5 victory. This marked the first time the Wildcats had scored in every inning of a game since April 28, 2013 versus Alabama State. Not even the vaunted 2019 offense that averaged 9.8 runs per game managed to put together a game scoring in every turn at the plate.
THE OUTSIDERS: Under head coach Jay Johnson, the Wildcats have dominated non-conference opponents to the tune of a sparkling 104-40 (.722) record, giving them the second-best non-conference winning percentage in the Pac-12 behind only Oregon State (.771). Their mark is even better at home, with a non-conference mark of 62-15 (.805) at Hi Corbett Field. Arizona's last non-conference series loss came at Houston in February 2019 — the Wildcats went 1-2 against the Cougars in Houston. They have not lost a home non-conference series while coach Johnson has led the team — their last home series loss to a non-conference opponent was a 1-2 record against Rice in February 2015. In the weeks leading up to Arizona's first Pac-12 Conference series each year under coach Johnson, the Wildcats have combined to go 57-26 (.687).
Non-Conference Winning% in the Pac-12 since 2016
HOME SWEET HOME: Since 2016, the Jay Johnson-led Wildcats have routinely defended their home, Hi Corbett Field, to the tune of a 103-35 (.746) record. During that stretch, spanning five seasons, they have never lost more than 10 home games in a single campaign. Arizona's home winning percentage of .746 is the second-best mark in the Pac-12 Conference since 2016, behind only Oregon State (.771). Both the Arizona hitters and pitchers have taken advantage of the friendly confines of Hi C over the last five years: From 2016-20 the offense combined to hit .326 with an average of 8.8 runs per game at home (road: .274 AVG and 6.0 R/G), while the pitching staff posted a 3.81 ERA at home (road: 4.83 ERA).
Home Winning% in the Pac-12 since 2016
NEW GUYS GOT GAME: Arizona Baseball checked in at No. 4 in D1Baseball's Newcomer Rankings released in January, giving the Wildcats the best incoming class of student-athletes on the West Coast. The prep portion of the class is highlighted by outfielder Chase Davis (No. 34), catcher Daniel Susac (No. 41), and right-handed pitcher/infielder T.J. Nichols (No. 89), three outstanding high school products who ranked among the top 100 players in last spring's Prep Baseball Report Top 500. They are joined by a trio of outstanding transfers in outfielder Tanner O'Tremba (Texas Tech), right-handed pitcher Austin Smith (Southwestern), and right-handed pitcher Chase Silseth (Southern Nevada). Four additional Arizona newcomers from the high school ranks landed among the PBR Top 500 last spring: Outfielder/right-handed pitcher Kyle Casper (No. 211), third baseman/first baseman Jacob Berry (No. 214), first baseman/left-handed pitcher TJ Curd (No. 272), and right-handed pitcher Ryan Kysar (No. 484).
ON THE OFFENSIVE: Before the 2020 season was shut down, the Wildcats offense was once again showing the signs of dominance that have become common place under head coach Jay Johnson. Through 15 games played, Arizona was hitting .288 with a .437 slugging percentage and .417 on-base percentage while averaging 7.5 runs per game. Six of the Wildcats regular starters were hitting well over the .300 mark, five of which will return to Arizona's lineup this season.
Arizona 2020 Offensive Pac-12 Ranks
AMONG THE BEST: The Wildcats landed five players in the D1Baseball preseason edition of their positional power rankings. Branden Boissiere, Ryan Holgate, Donta' Williams, Chase Silseth, and TJ Nichols were all tabbed among the best players in the nation at their positions by the outlet. Nichols, a highly-touted true freshman, was the only freshman named to the Top 50 Relief Pitchers list.
#THEENGINE: Outfielder Donta' Williams, one of the elite defensive center fielders in college baseball and a consistent leadoff hitter, returns to the Wildcats for his fourth season in 2021. Through three-plus campaigns in Tucson, Williams has combined to hit .271 (99x365) with 104 runs scored, 16 doubles, nine triples, three home runs, 60 RBI, and 72 walks against just 85 strikeouts. In the field, Williams has posted a career .983 fielding percentage, committing just four errors in 118 games. Following the 2019 season, during which he posted a stunning .993 fielding percentage in 56 games, Williams was selected to the Pac-12 All-Defensive Team — he was the first Wildcat selected to the All-Defensive Team in two years. Williams' performance at the plate has steadily improved during his time with Arizona, leading to a breakout performance during the shortened 2020 season in which he hit .348 with 22 runs scored, five extra-base hits, 14 RBI and more walks (15) than strikeouts (8) in just 15 games.
MY CLOSER VINNY: Senior right-handed reliever Vince Vannelle will be one of the Arizona pitching staff's most important pieces in 2021. The Dublin, Ohio native has posted two strong seasons for the Wildcats since transferring from Florida Southwestern. Vannelle sports a career 2.73 ERA (16ERx52.2IP) in Tucson to go with five saves and a 3-2 record. During five appearances in 2020, Vannelle posted a stingy 1.35 ERA, two saves, and a 13.5 K/9 rate while holding opposing hitters to a .152 batting average. Vannelle was tabbed to the Perfect Game Preseason All-Pac-12 team heading into the 2021 campaign.
SOUTHWEST SOUTHPAW: Junior southpaw Garrett Irvin, the owner of an undefeated 4-0 record in 2020, returns to the Wildcats this year to bolster the team's starting rotation. Across four starts last year Irvin notched a 3.18 ERA and limited opposing hitters to a .238 batting average while striking out 28 in just 22.2 innings. Perhaps most impressive was Irvin's ability to control the run game — in just four outings he logged seven pickoffs, the most by any Power 5 pitcher in the country and three more than the next closest player.
RYANAIR: After a promising freshman season in 2019, outfielder Ryan Holgate was in the middle of an astounding breakout campaign in 2020 before the season was cut short in mid-March. Through 15 starts last year, Holgate led the Wildcats and ranked eighth in the Pac-12 with a .377 batting average. Add to his eye-popping average 11 runs scored, seven extra-base hits, 12 RBI, a .547 slugging percentage, and a .459 on-base percentage. The slugging outfielder was tabbed to the Perfect Game Preseason All-Pac-12 team and fingered as the No. 14 outfielder in the country in D1Baseball's preseason outfielder rankings.
CATS COACHES: Head coach Jay Johnson remains at Hi Corbett Field for his sixth season leading the Wildcats. During his time in Tucson, Johnson has steered Arizona Baseball to an impressive 165-98 (.627) overall record and a 62-59 (.512) mark in Pac-12 Conference play. The 165 wins compiled by coach Johnson and the Wildcats since 2016 are the third-most in the Pac-12 over that stretch, behind only Oregon State (190) and Stanford (169). Coach Johnson is joined by second-year associate head coach Nate Yeskie, sixth year assistant coach Dave Lawn, and sixth-year volunteer assistant coach Marc Wanaka. The Arizona coaching staff's credentials are impeccable, with coaches Johnson, Yeskie, and Lawn having combined to develop 15 conference Pitchers of the Year, 12 Players of the Year, 11 Freshmen of the Year, and four Defensive Players of the Year. That same group has combined to steer their team to 20 NCAA Regional appearances, eight NCAA Super Regional berths, and six trips to the College World Series. In addition to their unparalleled success at the collegiate level, Arizona's coaches have steered a staggering number of their players into the professional ranks. Coaches Johnson and Yeskie have combined to produce 58 Major League Baseball Draft picks, 31 of which were taken in the first ten rounds, while coach Lawn alone has developed 22 players who have gone on to make it to MLB.