Louis Boyd returns from injury to solidify 'Cats lineup
Junior infielder Louis Boyd (5) during Arizona's 12-5 loss to the Arizona Diamondbacks at Salt River Fields in Scottsdale, Arizona on March 1. Boyd returned to the Wildcats lineup following a shoulder injury, which kept him out for a month.
An unsung hero of the Arizona baseball team’s improbable run to the College World Series last year was junior college transfer Louis Boyd, who played lockdown defense at shortstop while providing a spark at the bottom of the order.
Boyd, a native of North Vancouver, British Columbia, became accustomed to making dazzling plays at short and played a valuable role in a sound defense that featured Cody Ramer at second base, Bobby Dalbec at third and Ryan Aguilar at first.
The senior infielder’s presence up the middle was missed for over a month this season when he injured his left arm diving for a ball on against McNeese State on Feb. 26. However, Boyd’s return came sooner than expected, as he was initially said to be out until mid-April. The hiatus was brief for Boyd, who had no trouble getting back into the flow of the game after getting a few practices under his belt.
“Even though it was a month off, it just felt like a couple days,” Boyd said. “Once I got back into full practice, it felt like I never left, so it was a pretty easy transition.”
While Boyd’s return came ahead of schedule, he still wears a black brace on his left arm, the one he injured. Boyd seems to have gotten used to the brace, as it has not hindered his ability to play defense or swing the bat.
“This is actually a custom one we just got made,” Boyd said. “It fits way better than the one I was wearing in the first series against USC. It’s really light; it barely feels like anything is on. I just had to make my follow through with two hands rather than one. It was just a small adjustment to adjust the finish.”
It did not take Boyd long to contribute fresh off his injury as he played a major role in UA’s sweep of USC March 31–April 2 at Hi Corbett Field. The senior showed no rust on either side of the ball as he made plays at short look routine while doing his part on offense to get on base for the top of the order.
Arizona head coach Jay Johnson noted the defensive void he left during his absence, while also commending his offensive contributions.
“The first game he was back, I didn’t realize how much we were missing him,” Johnson said. “The defense thing is glaring. All of the sudden, we went from not being able to turn double plays [to] turning them very effortlessly.”
Boyd’s return made the team’s defense stronger in more ways than one as it also allowed Kyle Lewis—who filled in at short during Boyd’s absence—to move back to his normal position at second.
During Tuesday’s 11-2 win over Arizona State, Lewis made a few exceptional run-preventing plays at second. The first came in the third, when Lewis ranged toward foul territory to make a terrific diving catch and quickly pop up to deliver a strike on one bounce to Cesar Salazar at home, who tagged out a runner trying to tag up from third base. The second came in the fifth with two outs when Lewis leaped high into the night to rob a base hit from ASU, which would have brought a run.
“I’ve been pretty lucky this year with some pretty awesome middle guys and some corner guys, so it’s really fun with everyone knowing they can make every play,” Boyd said.
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