Take a deep breath — the Arizona Wildcats are in the NCAA tournament as one of the last bubble teams to make the 64-team field.
Arizona (33-24) was one of the last four teams announced in Monday morning’s NCAA selection show.
The Wildcats were overall one of the last four teams to be seeded into the tournament.
Arizona coach Chip Hale on the Wildcats making it into the NCAA Tournament in the final regional bracket revealed Monday: pic.twitter.com/5XpO7BXtFj
— Michael Lev (@MichaelJLev) May 29, 2023
Arizona’s baseball players responded to seeing their name appear on the screen during ESPN’s selection show by piling on each other while screaming loud in jubilation in their locker room.
Chip Hale’s team, which won seven of eight games to reach Saturday’s Pac-12 tournament championship game against Oregon, will play in the Fayetteville (Ark.) Regional against TCU (37-22) that starts Friday at 6 p.m., Tucson time, on ESPNU.
— NCAA Baseball (@NCAABaseball) May 29, 2023
Arizona is one of five Pac-12 teams to make the field, joining Stanford, Oregon, Oregon State and Washington. Bubble teams Arizona State and USC did not make the field. The Wildcats were 4-1 against those teams in their last five meetings with them.
NCAA baseball tournament selection committee chairman John Cohen told ESPN that Arizona’s RPI (45th) and late-season wins against ASU, USC and UC-Irvine were a deciding factor.
“Their RPI was the fifth-best in the league overall,” Cohen said. “I think you’re comparing apples to apples with RPI when you’re talking about Pac-12 schools alone. They had16 wins in the Pac-12 and fifth-best RPI in a very elite league.
“They make it to the championship game of the league tournament. Great series win against USC (to end the regular season at Hi Corbett Field). Their last two outings against Arizona State (wins of 20-0 and 12-3) were really impressive and they have a win late in the year against Irvine. So I think it is a very solid resume and it was reflected by the RPI.”
— NCAA Baseball (@NCAABaseball) May 29, 2023
Arizona compiled 20 wins against top 100 RPI teams and played the 25th toughest schedule in the nation. The selection marks the 42nd NCAA Tournament appearance in program history, the sixth most in the nation.
Arizona finished eighth in the regular-season Pac-12 standings, but the Wildcats were 10-7 in their last 17 games against conference opponents, including two wins over No. 8 seed and regular-season champ Stanford. Arizona run-ruled the Cardinal 14-4 in the Pac-12 tournament semifinals two weeks after winning 21-20 in 10 innings at Palo Alto, Calif.
The Wildcats have one of the best lineups in program history with left fielder Chase Davis blasting 21 home runs and CDO graduate Kiko Romero, a first baseman, producing 86 RBIs that ties the single-season Arizona record set by Ron Hassey in 1974.
‘There’s no need for extra motivation. We will prove that we’re a good team.’ – Arizona coach Chip Hale
— Brian Pedersen (@realBJP) May 29, 2023
The Wildcats are batting .321 as a team with 93 home runs and 460 RBIs.
Their pitching has struggled overall with a 5.87 ERA but the Wildcats have received quality starts of late from Pima College transfers Bradon Zastrow (6-5, 5.28 ERA) and Aiden May (5-2, 6.50) to supplement Cam Walty (5-0, 5.33) in the rotation. Zastrow is a left-hander and May and Walty are right-handers.
The relievers, led by right-hander Dawson Netz’s 3.87 ERA in 26 innings, have been mostly reliable of late as well.
— Arizona Baseball (@ArizonaBaseball) May 29, 2023
Fayetteville Opponent Information
- No. 1 Arkansas (at-large) [No. 3 national seed]
- Conference: SEC
- Record: 41-16 (20-10)
- Head Coach: Dave Van Horn
- No. 2 TCU (automatic qualifier)
- Conference: Big 12
- Record: 37-22 (13-11)
- Head Coach: Kirk Sarloos
- No. 4 Santa Clara (automatic qualifier)
- Conference: West Coast
- Record: 35-18 (17-10)
- Head Coach: Rusty Filter
Stat leaders for Arizona:
|RUNS BATTED IN|
|HIT BY PITCH|
|EARNED RUN AVERAGE|
|OPPOSING BAT AVERAGE|
|BATTERS STRUCK OUT|
|FIELDING DOUBLE PLAYS|
|CAUGHT STEALING BY|
|Susac, Anthony “Tonko”||2|
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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.