Arizona baseball will look to reestablish itself as a national powerhouse after failing to make the 2013 playoffs just a year after it won the College World Series. The Daily Wildcat sat down with head coach Andy Lopez to discuss his goals and expectations for the approaching season.
Daily Wildcat: Do you think the team became complacent at all last season? Will there be a heightened desire to win after failing to qualify for playoffs last year?
Lopez: No, not at all. I don’t think they were complacent in any way, shape or form. As usual, it was a very good conference. What a lot of people seem to misunderstand is that in 2012, at the end of the regular season we had 38 wins and then went 10-0 in the playoffs to win a national championship.
Last year’s team had 34 wins, only four fewer. We started off a little slow last year, but I thought we played well down the stretch. I’d be a little more concerned if we had 28 or even 30 wins.
But I know there was a lot of disappointment in the dugout, so I think the returners will have some heightened motivation.
How are you feeling about the team prior to the first official fall practice? What are your hopes and expectations for the upcoming season?
We always want to think about the postseason and getting hot at that point in the year. Obviously, we are like a lot of programs in the country [in terms of] the same type of goals: to win the conference, host the regional and get to Omaha [Neb.] We are still trying to get a feel of the talent we have and what we can really accomplish.
What can you tell me about newcomers this year, especially standouts like Willie Calhoun, Morgan Earman and Kenny Meimerstorf? How are you expecting them to contribute this year?
You hope a few of them can contribute. We have a lot of guys back from last year’s club, so if they don’t, it won’t be a tremendous strain on the club. We don’t get a lot of junior college transfers, so the freshmen that come in here are expected to contribute to our success. The team hasn’t officially done anything together yet, so it’s sort of hard to gauge how guys are looking.
There has been talk about whether Mathew Troupe will be used as a starter or closer this year. What can you tell me about his situation?
He had a phenomenal summer. While playing in the Cape Cod League, arguably one of the most prestigious summer leagues in collegiate baseball, he put up great numbers as a closer and was named an All-Star. For right now, since he had [such a good summer], I’m hesitant to move him from his role as closer, and I think he’s thinking the same thing.
Who are you expecting to win the MLB World Series this year?
The teams who make the postseason are good enough to win it all. You just have to be playing well at the right time.
Three weeks ago, I said the Dodgers were going to win, but now they lost nine of their last 11, so anything can happen. I’ll tell you that [the winner] will be the team that pitches the best. In an ideal world, for me, it would be David Ross and the Red Sox against Mark Ellis and the Dodgers. Both of them played for me at Florida and at that point, I wouldn’t even care who would win. I would just want to see one of my guys walk away with a ring.
—Follow Evan Rosenfeld @EvanRosenfeld17