J.C. Cloney leads Wildcats pitching staff in search of dominance once again
JC Cloney (27) pitches against Coastal Carolina on June 27, 2016, in Omaha, Nebraska. Cloney returns to be the ace on the Wildcats pitching staff.
Arizona baseball kicks off in a few weeks and for senior pitcher J.C. Cloney, it couldn’t come soon enough.
The last time Wildcats fans saw Cloney, the ace was pitching a shutout in the College World Series against Coastal Carolina.
The Chanticleers would eventually win the series, but Coastal Carolina was shutout in game one for only the second time last season since a matchup with Wake Forest earlier in the year.
Cloney is coming off of a season in which he earned spots on the College World Series All-Tournament Team and All Pac-12 Honorable Mention. Last year, Cloney was 8-4 on the season in 18 starts and accumulated an earned run average of 2.45.
There are some new faces for Arizona, and Cloney is excited about what the pitching staff can accomplish this season.
“I think it will be be fun because we have some guys that can throw and guys that have some great pitches,” Cloney said. “I think it will be fun to see when we get another team on the other side.”
With the departures of Bobby Dalbec and Nathan Bannister to graduation, Cloney could see a bigger role this season with Arizona. Arizona baseball coach Jay Johnson said he believes he can embrace an ace role this season.
“Based on last year, you would have to say pretty good,” Johnson said. “I would say he has an assortment of pitches that allows him to get through the order two, three, maybe even four times.”
When Cloney is on, like the College World Series last season, Arizona becomes a nightmare for the opposition.
“It allows you to shorten the game, and then you can really matchup at the end,” Johnson said. “We’re thankful that he is here ... He just does a really good job getting prepared to pitch.”
Despite Cloney’s success last year, he is working on utilizing one more pitch to add to his repertoire.
“The changeup I think was probably my fourth pitch last year, and this year it is my second,” Cloney said. “The coaches kind of switched the grip a little bit and I think just using it more from last year to now and getting comfortable with it [has been important].”
While teammates and opponents will tell you that Cloney means business on the field, off the field he can be a character. He may not be the biggest character in Arizona’s antic videos, but he too can act wild with his Wildcat teammates.
“J.C. Cloney is kind of underrated with his sense of humor,” said Senior Associate Athletics Director for Development John Daly. “Being the starting pitcher, he has to be serious the majority of the time but he works it in there.”
Teammate and fellow senior, Sawyer Gieseke agreed with Daly about the wit that comes from Cloney.
“I think as a pitcher, you pitch one day and you hang out for five or six, so you have to keep yourself entertained,” Giseke said. “So Cloney fills the roll of left-handed pitcher and is a little out there.”
Arizona baseball kicks off on Feb. 17 when the Wildcats welcome Eastern Kentucky to Hi Corbett Field.
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