With word that Arizona baseball head coach Andy Lopez’s surgery was a success, Arizona’s baseball program was able to return its focus to the task at hand: preparing for the upcoming season and for a chance to return to the College World Series. Tuesday’s baseball media day gave some insight as to where the leadership will come from this upcoming season.
A year and a half after the Wildcats won the national title, only nine of 34 players who were on the 2012 College World Series Championship roster stood on the field, as Tuesday’s media day marked the beginning of the countdown to the spring season.
Senior James Farris and juniors Mathew Troupe and Joseph Maggi are three experienced returners who are expected to lead the team after the Wildcats lost five to the MLB First-Year Players Draft.
Troupe said he believes that this year’s team is in a much better position than last year’s due to a larger class of experienced juniors.
“We don’t have very many seniors, but we do have a good amount of juniors,” Troupe said. “I think a huge reason as to why we missed out on the postseason last year was leadership. There was a huge difference [in direction and performance] from when we had the big chunk of juniors my freshman year in comparison to what we had last year.”
Farris explained how Kurt Heyer became his role model during his sophomore season and even said that Heyer was probably the reason he got his job as a starter.
“His work ethic really rubbed off on me, the pitching staff and the whole team,” Farris said. “Heyer is definitely a person I look up to, even to this day. He led by example, and you could just see how hard he worked. His work ethic was very contagious.”
Maggi said he is eager to be a leader this season and show new freshmen what it takes to succeed in a Division I program.
“It’s pretty crazy now that I’m a junior. I’m expecting increased leadership and production from myself,” Maggi said. “I’m excited to take on more of a leadership role and work on consistency so that I can perfect small details. I’m expecting some great things from the younger guys this year.”
Troupe shared how influential the upperclassmen in his freshman year were and said he is excited to be a role model for the incoming players.
“As an underclassman, with all the older guys my freshman year, it was just about learning the ropes,” Troupe reminisced with a smile. “They really took control and took the younger guys under their wing. Now, I have to jump into that position and try to fill the shoes of the [Alex] Mejias and the [Robert] Refsnyders and the Heyers. Now that’s my job.”
— Follow Evan Rosenfeld @EvanRosenfeld17