A road sweep follows with a three-game series for Arizona baseball as the team hosts No. 22 Oregon starting on Friday at Hi Corbett Field.
Arizona is leading the Pac-12 Conference in almost every offensive category before the weekend, but the main concern comes from the pitching end.
“Improving in that area is something we desire every day,” Arizona coach Andy Lopez said.
Lopez said the team would work on improving defensively, but the weekend rotation featuring Cody Hamlin, Robby Medel and Tyger Talley will remain the same.
Going into the third conference series, and prior to facing Oregon, the players said they have noticed a difference in Lopez’s approach to the season.
“Practices are a lot more tough and he’s a lot more tough; you can tell he’s ready to go, and we’re all ready to go,” Arizona right fielder Zach Gibbons said. “Every day, we are working on execution, so we need to do that this weekend.”
Gibbons is one of the three offensive leaders in the Wildcats’ squad, including Kevin Newman and Scott Kingery.
On the other hand, Lopez has noticed something different about this year’s squad, too.
“This group competes well,” Lopez said. “They really show up day in and day out. It doesn’t mean it’s always going to be pretty, it doesn’t always mean it’s going to be a win, but I’ve had a saying that for every team that plays hard, it’s pretty hard to beat. Playing hard is a conscious effort, and they play hard and compete well.”
Oregon started the season leading the Pac-12 but has only won two conference games so far. Having a two conference-game advantage, the Wildcats are still aware of what Oregon is capable of.
“We just have to win on Friday,” Gibbons said. “We have to focus on Friday. Then, we can think about Saturday.”
The Ducks visit Tucson after a midweek two-game sweep against UC Riverside and a 17-8, 2-4 Pac-12 record.
Leading the Ducks offensively is Mitchell Tolman, who played in the Cape Cod Baseball League with Arizona’s Bobby Dalbec, Cody Moffett and Nathan Bannister.
The last time the two teams faced each other, Oregon swept the series when Arizona traveled to Eugene, Ore. The first game of the series was a 6-1 sweep, the second went on to extra innings but Arizona dropped the game 7-6 and the last game of the series the Ducks won 5-1.
The last home series for Arizona was dropped against Utah, so the Wildcats look to come out with fire.
All three games will be televised on the Pac-12 Networks. Friday’s game is scheduled for 7 p.m., Saturday’s game for 7 p.m. and on Sunday, the first pitch is scheduled or 11 a.m.
Follow Rose Aly Valenzuela on Twitter.