Baseball is back, love is in the air and opening day is upon us. Arizona baseball kicks off the season tonight, hosting Kent State in a three-game series beginning at 6 p.m. at Hi Corbett Field.
Firework festivities will follow tonight’s game, and the second and third contests will take place on Saturday at 6 p.m. and Sunday at noon.
Senior pitcher James Farris will take the mound for the season opener, while juniors Tyler Crawford and Cody Hamlin are scheduled to toe the rubber on Saturday and Sunday, respectively.
Kent State is a 2012 College World Series participant that ended last year winning 15 of its last 16 regular season games after starting the season with a 1-9 record.
Arizona, the 2012 College World Series champions, won five of its final six games last year. However, the Wildcats were denied the chance to defend their national title and did not make the cut when the committee selected the 64-team playoff pool.
The Daily Wildcat spoke to UA head coach Andy Lopez on a couple occasions about coming back after having had quadruple-bypass surgery in October.
DW: What is it like coming back, not having seen anything during the fall?
Lopez: It’s a strange feeling. Obviously the strangest I’ve ever had, never having missed a fall [before]. And I feel it. I still sense it and feel it; even though I’ve been back out here for a month, I still feel like I’m trying to get a feel for a few things like who we are as a club and what our true identity is. It’s good to be back, but its different.
What are you expecting to see this weekend?
I’m really looking for us to pitch well — go out and throw low strikes. I’m looking for us to play catch on defense and not strike out. I want us to put the ball in play. If you win the first three games, they don’t shut the season down and book you hotel rooms in Omaha … if you don’t win your first three games, they don’t come in here, knock [Hi Corbett] down and turn it into a Walmart. It’s a 55-game schedule, it’s a long season, and we are just looking for day-to-day progress right now.
[Editor’s note: Lopez went on to add:]
This year more than any year for me personally, because of my unique situation in October and not being around in the fall, I still feel like I’m learning my team. If you had the power to say, ‘OK coach, I just found out, everybody’s starting this weekend, but you get another four weeks.’ Man, I’d give you a big hug and a kiss right now. I’d say, yeah, I need that. I need those four weeks. I’m still trying to get a feel for who we are.
—Follow Evan Rosenfeld @EvanRosenfeld17