Baseball opens Pac-12 season by hosting Washington State
Arizona baseball commences Pac-12 Conference play against Washington State at home Friday night in its 20th game of the season.
Last season, Arizona (10-9) won the series against Washington State, dropping the first game and winning the last two in Pullman, Wash. The Cougars (4-8) will visit Arizona after a 5-3 loss to Texas State on March 8.
The first pitch is scheduled for 6 p.m.
Arizona had trouble with its offense in some of its previous games, but sophomore leadoff batter Scott Kingery has been efficient in getting Arizona’s offense started. The sophomore has been on base 56 percent of time and leads Arizona with a batting average of .441.
Sophomore Scott Kingery reaches first during Arizona's 14-2 win over Air Force at Hi Corbett Field on Tuesday.Kingery gets on base over half of the time.
“[Kingery] has done a good job [as the leadoff batter],” head coach Andy Lopez said. “I’m really happy for him [and] for us. I like having a guy like that.”
According to Lopez, the lineup has come together better than it was before; he said seven out of the nine spots make him feel confident. Arizona’s offense improved just in time for the start of Pac-12 play.
“I think we’re heading in the right direction right now,” Kingery said. “I think we’re starting to find our stroke, we’re figuring out what our roles are on the team and we’re executing better.”
Arizona leads Washington State in the overall series record, 32-18. The last series win for WSU was a three-game sweep at home in 2009. The last series the Cougars won in Tucson was in 2006, when Arizona only won one game of the series.
Arizona’s ace, James Farris (3-1), will return to the mound after pitching eight-plus innings on March 7 with seven strike outs, eight hits and three runs allowed. Farris pitched the second game of the series last season when Arizona defeated WSU 6-5. In that game, the senior pitched 7.1 innings, allowing four hits and two runs.
Friday, Farris returns to face the Cougars again, but this time as the Friday night guy.
Senior left-handed-pitcher Jason Monda is the probable pitcher for WSU. The last time Monda was on the mound was also on March 7, when he pitched 5.2 innings and allowed six hits and five runs in a total of 101 pitches.
Despite missing the fall, Lopez said the team is getting better. He said he’s seeing better stuff from the club. The Pac-12 Conference means a whole new record, according to Lopez.
“I think we’re going in the right direction,” Lopez said.
The UA plays WSU on Saturday at 6 p.m., and on Sunday they play at noon. On Tuesday, the Wildcats will host Grand Canyon at 6 p.m.
The Wildcats play at Washington over the March 21 weekend.
—Follow Rose Aly Valenzuela @RoseAlyVal