The 2022 NCAA Tournament field was revealed Monday morning where it was announced the Arizona baseball team will be headed to the Coral Gables Regional hosted by Miami. They will also be joined by Canisius and a familiar foe in Ole Miss.
Arizona manager Chip Hale called the Wildcats "road warriors" this season in response to being asked about traveling to Florida to begin what they hope to be the start of the road back to Omaha.
"This is probably the most this school has traveled in a long time," Hale said. "We have had a lot of road trips whether it's bussing to New Mexico State or flying out to Omaha to play Creighton so we're definitely battle-tested on the road."
Arizona will open up the regional against Ole Miss on Friday. The Wildcats took out the Rebels in the Super Regional last season to advance to the College World Series. Hale might not have been the Wildcats coach last year, but a number of other coaches were including Dave Lawn. Hale said he talked to Lawn about who should start Friday between TJ Nichols and Garrett Irvin when Lawn replied that they are a completely different team.
"I have to go look at the numbers and look at some video to really let us make an educated call on that," Hale said. "We don't know a whole lot about them right now."
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The main message Hale wanted to relay to the team was all about letting them take control and enjoy the moment once they take the field.
"My job now is to get them as prepared as we can," Hale said. "We'll give them scouting reports on the different teams we play and then just sort of get out of the way. Let them play, have fun and they are the ones who are going to be out there hitting, running and throwing."
Looking back at the Wildcats schedule this season, it was not easy. They faced Oklahoma, Texas Tech, Texas Tech and Grand Canyon in non-conference play, all of whom made the tournament. Between the competition Arizona played prior to conference play starting coupled with the Pac-12 teams they played, Hale is confident that it will help the team in the tournament.
"We said at the start when we played Texas State, we were like this team is definitely an NCAA team and I'm glad they made it," Hale said. "I'm really glad that Andy [Stankiewicz] and Grand Canyon got in. I know there were some things that had them left out, but they were one of the better teams we played all season whether it was Pac-12 or non-conference."
Chase Davis had to leave Saturday's game early against Stanford due to a shoulder injury after making a catch while running into the wall. Hale said Davis took some light swings Monday and he is confident he'll be able to at least hit this weekend in the Wildcats lineup. It is still uncertain if he will be able to throw in the outfield, but even just getting his bat back in the lineup as the designated hitter would be huge for Arizona's offense.
The Wildcats and Rebels are scheduled to play Friday with first pitch at 4:00 MST with the game being aired on ESPNU.
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