Arizona Baseball

Hale part of Arizona hosting NCAA regional as a coach after missing that opportunity as a player

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The 40th anniversary of Arizona coach Chip Hale joining the program and playing for Jerry Kindall will mark the first time he will pursue a national championship beginning at home in a regional after competing three times on the road in the regional round as a player.

No. 13 Arizona (36-21) will host an NCAA tournament regional at Hi Corbett starting Friday when Dallas Baptist (44-13) and West Virginia (33-22) play at noon (ESPN2) and Grand Canyon (34-23) faces the Wildcats at 6 p.m. (ESPN-Plus).

“We obviously felt like we deserved to (be a host),” Hale said of Arizona capturing the Pac-12 regular-season and conference tournament championships. “But we know how this works. You never know.”

Nobody knows that more than Hale.

Hale, recruited to Arizona in 1983-84 out of Campolindo High School in Moraga, Calif., did not get the opportunity to play in front of the home crowd during the NCAA tournament when he was with the Wildcats through his senior season of 1987.

Arizona did not qualify for the tournament his freshman season in 1984, when Arizona finished 22-36.

In 1985, Arizona (47-22 and tied for second in the Pac-10 Southern Division at 17-13) advanced to the College World Series out of the Fresno (Calif.) Regional.

The following year in 1986, Hale and the Wildcats (49-19 and again tied for second in the “Six-Pac” at 18-12) won the program’s third College World Series title after emerging from the Austin (Texas) Regional.

As a senior in 1987, Hale and Arizona (34-26 and fourth in the Six-Pac at 13-17) were eliminated in the Tempe Regional after losses to Pepperdine and Hawaii.

The 1986 season in particular was one that Hale could’ve/should’ve played at Sancet Field on Arizona’s campus in the regional round. Arizona was coming off a three-game sweep of Arizona State at Sancet Field in which nearly 8,000 fans attended to end the regular season.

Arizona was also hoping to be part of a four-team regional that year instead of one with six teams. The NCAA tournament back then fluctuated between four and six teams at different sites.

It was a double-whammy with Arizona sent to Austin to play in a six-team regional field.

“We thought we deserved to host, but that’s okay,” Kindall told Dave Petruska of the Tucson Citizen. “I was hoping for a four-teamer because a six-teamer is so much more difficult to win. It puts such a premium on pitching.

“But we forfeited the right to flex some muscle about where we’d play when we didn’t win the conference title. I’m just happy we’re going to a regional for the second straight year.”

Playing at Austin did not stop Arizona’s momentum coming off the sweep of Arizona State.

The Wildcats won four straight games in Austin, including a 9-3 victory over Texas with Gary Alexander out-dueling All-American Greg Swindell. Hale went 3 for 4 in that game and 11 of 20 in the regional overall with five runs, a home run, three doubles, a stolen base and eight RBIs.

Arizona then won four out of five games in Omaha, Neb., to claim the CWS championship.

Obviously, Arizona did not need to play at home in regional play to compete so dominantly toward a national championship.

But every team and coach certainly wants the opportunity to be a host site in the postseason because of the home crowd and other factors.

“We’re used to (playing at Hi Corbett), we can sleep in our own beds, we get to use our weight room and be used to doing things when we’re at home,” Hale said. “Hopefully, the weather will help a little bit, too.”

The high temperature Friday is forecasted for 102 degrees with sunny skies. It is supposed to be 103 degrees and sunny on Saturday, 102 degrees while partly cloudy on Sunday and 101 while partly cloudly next Monday.

NOTES: If Arizona emerges through the Tucson Regional and LSU wins the Chapel Hill (N.C.) Regional, the Wildcats will host the defending national champion Tigers and former coach Jay Johnson in the Super Regional round. Former Arizona outfielder Mac Bingham is with LSU. … Arizona’s postseason roster will include 27 players and Hale mentioned that outfielder Emilio Corona (right hand injury) will be part of it and will be used in a pinch-running role until the hand heals. “He’s just too much of a difference-maker on the bases,” Hale said. “I think he’ll be able to play (referring to Corona’s abiltiy to play the field and bat).” … Corona scored the winning run as a pinch-runner on Tommy Splaine’s walk-off single in Arizona’s 4-3 win over USC in the Pac-12 tournament championship game Saturday night at Scottsdale. “I was super grateful for the opportunity,” said Corona, who played with Pima in 2022. “It was special. I was happy I could get out there and execute our opportunities and help my team.” … will have more coverage of the Tucson Regional throughout the week leading up to Friday’s opening-round games.






Athens Regional hosted by Georgia
#1 Georgia (39-15) vs. #4 Army West Point (31-21), 10 a.m., ESPN+
#2 UNCW (39-19) vs. #3 Georgia Tech (31-23), 4 p.m., ESPN+

Bryan-College Station Regional hosted by Texas A&M
#1 Texas A&M (44-13) vs. #4 Grambling (26-26), 10 a.m., ESPN+
#2 Louisiana (40-18) vs. #3 Texas (35-22), 3 p.m., ESPNU

Chapel Hill Regional hosted by North Carolina
#2 LSU (40-21) vs. #3 Wofford (41-18), 9 a.m., ESPNU
#1 North Carolina (42-13) vs. #4 LIU (33-23), 3 p.m. ESPN+

Charlottesville Regional hosted by Virginia
#1 Virginia (41-15) vs. #4 Penn (24-23), 9 a.m., ESPN+
#2 Mississippi St. (38-21) vs. #3 St. John’s (NY) (37-16-1), 4 p.m., ESPN+

Clemson Regional hosted by Clemson
#2 Vanderbilt (38-21) vs. #3 Coastal Carolina (34-23), 9 a.m., ESPN2
#1 Clemson (41-14) vs. #4 High Point (34-25), 4 p.m., ACCN

Corvallis Regional hosted by Oregon State
#2 UC Irvine (43-12) vs. #3 Nicholls (38-20), 1 p.m., ESPN+
#1 Oregon St. (42-14) vs. #4 Tulane (35-24), 6 p.m., ESPNU

Fayetteville Regional hosted by Arkansas
#1 Arkansas (43-14) vs. #4 Southeast Mo. St. (34-25), 12 p.m., ESPN+
#2 Louisiana Tech (45-17) vs. #3 Kansas St. (32-24), 5 p.m., ESPN+

Greenville Regional hosted by East Carolina
#1 East Carolina (43-15) vs. #4 Evansville (35-23), 10 a.m., ESPN+
#2 Wake Forest (38-20) vs. #3 VCU (37-21), 3 p.m., ESPN+

Knoxville Regional hosted by Tennessee
#2 Southern Miss. (41-18) vs. #3 Indiana (32-24-1), 10 a.m., ESPN+
#1 Tennessee (50-11) vs. #4 Northern Ky. (35-22), 4 p.m., SECN

Lexington Regional hosted by Kentucky
#1 Kentucky (40-14) vs. #4 Western Mich. (32-21), 9 a.m., SECN
#2 Indiana St. (42-13) vs. #3 Illinois (34-19), 4 p.m., ESPN+

Norman Regional hosted by Oklahoma
2 Duke (39-18) vs. #3 UConn (32-23), 10 a.m., ESPN+
1 Oklahoma (37-19) vs. #4 Oral Roberts (27-30-1), 4 p.m., ESPN+

Raleigh Regional hosted by NC State
#2 South Carolina (36-23) vs. #3 James Madison (34-23), 11 a.m., ESPN+
#1 NC State (33-20) vs. #4 Bryant (36-19), 4 p.m, ESPN+

Santa Barbara Regional hosted by UC Santa Barbara
#2 San Diego (40-13) vs. #3 Oregon (37-18), 12 p.m., ESPNU
#1 UC Santa Barbara (42-12) vs. #4 Fresno St. (33-27), 6 p.m., ESPN+

Stillwater Regional hosted by Oklahoma State
#2 Nebraska (39-20) vs. #3 Florida (28-27), 12 p.m., ESPN+
#1 Oklahoma St. (40-17) vs. #4 Niagara (38-15), 4 p.m., ESPN+

Tallahassee Regional hosted by Florida State
#1 Florida St. (42-15) vs. #4 Stetson (40-20), 9 a.m., ACCN
#2 Alabama (33-22) vs. #3 UCF (35-19), 3 p.m., ESPN+

Tucson Regional hosted by Arizona
#2 Dallas Baptist (44-13) vs. #3 West Virginia (33-22), 12 p.m., ESPN2
#1 Arizona (36-21) vs. #4 Grand Canyon (34-23), 6 p.m., ESPN+

FOLLOW @JAVIERJMORALES ON TWITTER! 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, Bleacher Report, Lindy’s Sports,, 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 in 2016 and is presently a special education teacher at Sunnyside High School in the Sunnyside Unified School District.

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