Arizona Baseball

TUCSON REGIONAL NOTES: Mason White one of seven Arizona locals at home for postseason play

Mason White is a sophomore shortstop with 29 home runs in his two years at Arizona (Arizona Athletics)

Regulars Mason White of Salpointe and Andrew Cain of Ironwood Ridge are two of seven local players who will suit up for an NCAA regional in their hometown when Arizona plays in the NCAA Tucson Regional at Hi Corbett Field this weekend.

No. 13 Arizona (36-21) will open Friday against Grand Canyon (34-23) at 6 p.m., after Dallas Baptist (44-13) faces West Virginia (33-22) in the first game at noon at Hi Corbett Field.

Arizona coach Chip Hale’s postseason roster must be set at 27, so the possibility exists that the other five locals may not be active for the Tucson Regional.

The other five locals are right-handed pitcher Owen Kramkowski of Walden Grove, left-handed pitcher Jaeden Swanberg of Salpointe and Pima College, left-hander Alessandro Castro of Pusch Ridge and Pima, right-hander Raul Gayazar of Rio Rico and catcher Caid Bergthold (Dick Tomey’s grandson) of Catalina Foothills.

Swanberg has been used most out of this group with 17 innings in 19 relief appearances. He stands the best chance of these five to be added to Arizona’s bullpen as part of the 27-man roster.

Grand Canyon has a player from Tucson — Catalina Foothills Class of 2023 infielder Troy Sanders, son of Santa Rita great Anthony Sanders, who went on to play in the major-leagues and is now the first base coach for the Baltimore Orioles.


White was in his formative years when he watched Arizona play in the Tucson Regional and Super Regional at Hi Corbett in 2012.

He was only 8 years old.

The Wildcats emerged from both rounds and won the College World Series title under coach Andy Lopez with a roster that includes current major-leaguer Rob Refsnyder of the Boston Red Sox and former big-leaguers Brandon Dixon, Johnny Field, Alex Mejia, Seth Mejias-Brean and Joey Rickard.

“They won the Super (Regionals) back in 2012 and I was right behind home plate,” Mason said. “It was really awesome. I followed them on TV when they went to Omaha. When they won it (College World Series title), I bought the T-shirt 10 minutes after they won. I still have it.

“I look back at that season and some of the players now who have moved on to the big leagues. I just remember how fun it was watching them.”

White is the first of three generations of Whites who played for Arizona’s baseball program to reach the postseason twice, including last year’s appearance in the Fayetteville (Ark.) Regional.

His grandfather Tim White, a catcher, played one season at Arizona in 1968 (after being part of the freshman team in 1967) before leaving to professional baseball with the Cincinnati Reds. Arizona did not advance to the NCAA tournament that year despite going 34-17 because it lost at BYU in the WAC championship series

Ben White, Mason’s dad who was a pitcher for Kindall from 1993-96, was part of Arizona’s team that came a game from going to the 1993 College World Series but lost 11-10 at Oklahoma State in the Midwest Regional final. Arizona did not reach the NCAA tournament in Ben White’s last three years.

When asked what it means to him to be a third-generation Arizona baseball player, White said, “It’s pretty cool. I am following in my family’s footsteps … it’s just surreal to see it and then finally be out here. We went to games when I was a kid and then in high school, I came to the regional here. It’s really cool.”

White is batting .303 with 19 home runs and 60 RBIs and has improved defensively in his first full season at shortstop. He has 16 errors but only three in his last 22 games.


Arizona’s legendary coach Jerry Kindall led the Wildcats to three postseason berths during Hale’s career from 1984-87, including a College World Series title in 1986 after the Wildcats persevered through the Austin (Texas) Regional.

Hale recalls that Kindall had a “very calming effect on us” during the postseason.

“Whenever he could, he would preach to us to do what we could do and not try to do too much,” he continued. “That’s the biggest thing any level you’re playing at because guys get so keyed up and so anxiety-ridden, they try to do more than they can do. He was really good about calming the team down.”

Hale told a story of Kindall pulling the Wildcats to Arizona’s clubhouse at the Austin Regional before the Texas fans started singing “The Eyes of Texas” following the national anthem to prevent his players from becoming awestruck.

“It was very intimidating,” Hale said of the crowd singing “The Eyes of Texas.” “We had never seen it. He told us, ‘When the anthem was over, you need to come to the clubhouse because I need to talk with you for a second.’

“We went in and he was just kind of going over the scouting report of everything. We came back out and they were done. Everybody was standing up and clapping. We had no idea what they had done. He knew that was going to happen and took us out of that environment so we wouldn’t get intimidated or too keyed up.”


Nathan Bannister will return to Hi Corbett Field on Friday trying to derail his alma mater’s postseason hopes as Grand Canyon’s pitching coach.

Bannister, part of Arizona’s starting rotation that led the Wildcats to the 2016 College World Series, is in his second year as the Antelopes’ pitching coach.

Grand Canyon right-handed pitcher Isaac Lyon talked about Bannister being his pitching coach and the times they share about Bannister’s postseason experiences while with Arizona.

“He’s awesome, I mean Banny’s the best,” Lyon said. “No, we don’t talk about (Bannister’s Arizona past) too much. I just ask him questions because he has definitely been here (to the postseason). He’s had success here. Definitely have had some conversations about what it’s like to pitch in these big games coming up.

“It’s great to learn from him.”

Bannister was a workhorse for Lopez in 2016, pitching 142 2/3 innings while going 12-2 with a 2.59 ERA.


West Virginia baseball coach Randy Mazey commented that the Tucson Regional is considered by many as the toughest from top to bottom in the nation despite some overlooking the quality of the Dallas Baptist and Grand Canyon programs.

“People from the outside of college baseball looking in, when they hear ‘Dallas Baptist,’ they think, ‘Oh, that shouldn’t be a problem,'” said Mazey, a former TCU assistant who is retiring after this season. “It’s a real problem because they’re really good. They’ve been really good for a long time. Coach (Dan) Heefner has one of the best offensive minds in all of college baseball.

“Offensively, they’ve been so good for so long. Talk about a guy who gets the most out of his kids and his program. I’ve got ultimate respect for those guys. They are the ‘Grand Canyon’ of Texas because Grand Canyon is the same way. People who don’t know a lot about college baseball, they hear Grand Canyon and they’re like, ‘We should beat those guys.’ It’s just not that easy. You have to play really well to beat these teams. Everybody talking about this regional being the toughest one — I literally think all four of these teams are capable of winning in this regional, which is fun. That’s why you play in regionals. If we come out of this one victorious, we would have beaten a lot of good teams.”


West Virginia had travel delays en route to Tucson on Wednesday, arriving late, prompting Mazey to say, “It’s never smooth sailing and it never will be smooth sailing, but the more you can throw on our plate, the better off we are.”

“Yes, travel issues,” Mazey continued, “but advantage Mountaineers. That’s what we like to call it.”

Senior right-hander Derek Clark acknowledged that he will not be with the Mountaineers next year when Arizona joins the Big 12, but said, “the travel wasn’t the best yesterday so hopefully in the next couple of years, it won’t be like that. But at the same time, it’s good (Arizona is in the Big 12) not just for baseball but all sports across the board.”

Sophomore utility player Sam White, who will face Arizona again next season either at Morgantown, WVa., or Tucson again, welcomes the Wildcat program into the Big 12 with open arms.

“I think it’s really cool, honestly,” White said. “When I learned about college baseball, Arizona was one of those teams that always seemed to be at the top. I think it’s really cool that they’re joining the league.

“Obviously, it makes our travel a little bit harder, but they’re going to have to come to us at some point. I think it’s really cool and I love it.”

Junior shortstop JJ Wetherholt is not expected to return next season because he will be a high draft pick next month, likely going in the top 10. The lefthanded-hitting phenom won Big 12 Player of the Year last season.


Dallas Baptist utility player Ethan Mann is in his sixth season of college baseball with two of the years occurring during the pandemic-stricken 2020 season and his medical redhirt year in 2022 at New Mexico State. He transferred to Dallas Baptist before last season.

In the 2021 season with New Mexico State, Mann started all 54 games and led the team in five categories including home runs (11), RBIs (50), slugging percentage (.538), stolen bases (eight) and total bases (106). He batted .305.

He played two mid-week games at Hi Corbett Field that season and went 1 for 4 with an RBI in an 11-4 loss and was 0 for 3 with a walk in a 14-3 defeat.  

“It’s a cool environment, a good field and a good program,” Mann said. “I’m excited to be back here with DBU and playing Arizona again.

“When we first found out we were coming to Tucson, I remember telling the guys that the gaps are huge — it’s like 410 and 409 in the gaps. Triples are usually hit there and the corners are very deep. I try to tell the guys it’s going to be hot as well. It’s going to be fun.”

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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