Oregon coach Mark Wasikowski, an Arizona assistant under Andy Lopez from 2002 to 2011, serves on the regional advisory committee that provides input on West Coast schools for the NCAA baseball tournament selection committee.
Wasikowski told ESPN after Saturday’s 5-4 win over Arizona in the Pac-12 tournament championship at Scottsdale Stadium that the Wildcats (33-24) are one of seven conference schools he has advocated to be selected into the NCAA tournament.
Oregon (37-20) automatically qualifies as the Pac-12 tournament champion.
Wasikowski also listed Arizona, Stanford, Washington, USC, Arizona State and Oregon State as worthy of making the 64-team field that will be announced Monday.
“Well, I can tell you this much. If I’m hanging around the SEC or anywhere else, I don’t want Arizona rolling into my yard,” Wasikowski said in a postgame interview to ESPN’s Roxy Bernstein and Wes Clements (a former Arizona All-American who is in the Arizona Sports Hall of Fame).
“Oh my gosh, those guys are … wow, they’re good, and they’ve got depth,” Wasikowski said of Arizona.
The Wildcats won seven of eight games, including three straight in the Pac-12 tournament to reach the championship game. They beat regular-season champion Stanford twice during that stretch, including one of the wins at Palo Alto, Calif.
Before Arizona’s game with Oregon, D1Baseball.com listed the Wildcats as the first team out of the top 64 to make the NCAA tournament.
“I really hope that the Pac-12 gets treated exceptionally fairly by this year’s tournament selection committee,” Wasikowski said. “I know I’ve advocated for at least seven teams to be in. For me, I think seven teams in the tournament from the Pac-12 would be fantastic.
“Arizona, boy, I think they’re a really, really good baseball team as are the other teams. I mean, holy cow, Stanford, they ran away with the league this year. Oregon State and Washington are both very good baseball teams. USC and Arizona State are both very, very good baseball teams.”
Wasikowski added that he volunteered to be on the advisory committee “because I believe in this conference.”
“I think when the national committee looks at it and says, ‘Wow, there’s more than twice as many national championships that have been won out of the Pac-12 conference than any of the leagues combined,’ I mean, for me, that’s enough said. Put them in, let them play and let them figure it out on the field.”
Beating Arizona for the Pac-12 tournament championship was “a surreal feeling” because of his background in Tucson, he said.
Wasikowski helped Lopez coach the Wildcats to seven regional tournaments, three Super Regionals and one College World Series during his time on the staff. He also recruited the bulk of the Arizona team that won the 2012 College World Series title following his first season with the Ducks.
In his 10 seasons with the program, the Wildcats won 60.8 percent (355-229-1) of their games, finishing with two 40-plus win seasons (42 in 2007 and 2008) and six seasons with 35 or more wins with a pair of 39-win campaigns included.
Wasikowski coached five All-Americans at Arizona as well as 10 freshman All-Americans, while 21 of the Wildcats’ position players claimed All-Pac-10 honors during his tenure. Incredible: 59 of his players from Arizona were drafted with 27 of them advancing to the Major Leagues.
“It’s a surreal feeling against the University of Arizona,” he said. “Those were 10 years my life. Both of my children were born down in Tucson, my wife’s here, my dad drove in today (and) my daughter flew in from Indiana. It’s an awesome day. So proud of my team. They’re going in the right direction at the most important time of the year.”
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ALLSPORTSTUCSON.com publisher, writer and editor Javier Morales is a former Arizona Press Club award winner. He is a former Arizona Daily Star beat reporter for the Arizona basketball team, including when the Wildcats won the 1996-97 NCAA title. He has also written articles for CollegeAD.com, Bleacher Report, Lindy’s Sports, TucsonCitizen.com, The Arizona Republic, Sporting News and Baseball America, among many other publications. He has also authored the book “The Highest Form of Living”, which is available at Amazon. He became an educator five years ago and is presently a special education teacher at Gallego Fine Arts Intermediate in the Sunnyside Unified School District.