The season began with a preseason ranking as the number one in the nation and all indications were that the ranking was well deserved. While the ranking did not hold, the Arizona Wildcats Baseball team had by all measures a very successful season. They were rewarded Wednesday with a number of coveted Pac-12 awards.
First, Arizona Head Coach Andy Lopez was named the Pac-12 Coach of the Year. This is the first time Lopez has been given this honor since being named the Wildcats skipper 11 years ago. Lopez led the Wildcats to a 38-17 record and co-champion of the Pac-12 conference. It is the first time Arizona has won the conference since 1992. That was also the year the Wildcats last hosted a regional, which they will do again this weekend at Hi Corbet Field. Oddly enough, the winner of the last Tucson regional back in 1992 was Pepperdine, who happened to have been coached by Andy Lopez.
The 2012 Pac-12 Player of the Year also wears an Arizona Wildcat uniform. Junior shortstop Alex Mejia has been named the conference’s player of the year after posting a .357 batting average, three home runs, five triples, 46 runs batted in and 81 runs scored. All stats ranked in the top ten of the conference.
Also making the all-conference team are outfielders Johnny Field and Robert Refsnyder, third baseman Seth Mejias-Brean, designated hitter Bobby Brown and pitcher Kurt Heyer. The Wildcats have had six players be named all-conference performers in consecutive seasons.
It has been an exciting regular season for the Wildcats with the wins, the great play on the field and the record attendance at Hi Corbet Field (the former spring training home of the Colorado Rockies) where they moved to this season. But now it is time for post-season play. The Wildcats made it only to the Regional last year but expectations are higher with their more experienced team and their regional games being played at home. Perhaps the preseason number one ranking will prove to be more accurate than current rankings would indicate.
This year will represent Arizona’s 37th appearance in post-season play with one national championship to show for it back in 1986. The Tucson regional beings Friday at 8:00 pm for the Wildcats as they face the Missouri Tigers at Hi Corbet Field. Louisville and New Mexico State round out the rest of the region.
For more on Arizona Wildcats athletics, follow Jared Cohen on Twitter at @JaredPros2Preps.