When most people think of the 2012 Arizona baseball team, they'll probably remember Kurt Heyer's blazing fastball or Alex Mejia's cannon of an arm, or maybe it'll be Robert Refsnyder's big bat in the middle of one of the most potent offenses in the nation. But for 34 current Wildcat teammates, someone else also will come to mind.
"Wow man, you know it's got to be Bobby (Brown)," said Arizona right fielder Refsnyder. "This guy has been through the ups and downs. If he's not one of our MVPs, then I'm not sure who is."
Arizona senior outfielder Bobby Brown is in his fifth year with the program and represents the only true senior on the ball club. Besides head coach Andy Lopez, Brown is the only current Wildcat that knows what it feels like to experience playing in a Super Regional, as Arizona ended the 2008 campaign just one game shy of the College World Series.
He also is just one of two current Wildcats that are left from a disastrous 2009 season that was infamous for disappointing performances and player attitude problems.
"You know the fact that he's been here through the good times and the bad can't be overlooked," said Lopez." You go back to that 2009 club, and he was one of the good ones for sure."
Coming into this season, Brown had never been an everyday player for Arizona. After he redshirted the 2008 season, he was mainly used off the bench during the 2009 and 2010 seasons. During the two-year span, Brown batted a modest .290 average, drove in 18 runs, and hadn't hit a home run in his Arizona career.
"You know it was tough to sit on the bench like that because I always knew I was a good player," said Brown. "But honestly I just tried to keep my head up and told myself I needed to work harder."
After big-time hitters Josh Garcia and Cole Frenzel were lost due to graduation and MLB Draft, Brown finally got his long-awaited chance, as he received his first opening day start of his career this season.
"You know I was just so excited," Brown said. "I mean, I don't think I was nervous but I was kind of like 'OK, I can't mess this up because this is my shot.'"
Brown went 0-3 in the 2012 season opener, and it only got worse from there. Freshman Joe Maggi soon took his spot in the starting lineup just 10 games into the season as Brown continued to scuffle with the bat.
Despite the demotion, the senior kept his head up.
"Bobby is just one of those guys," said Refsnyder. "He always leads by example. There was no pouting, he was right there with us cheering us on 100 percent."
But during his time on the bench, Brown wasn't just cheering, he was working, and working even harder than he had before.
"Baseball is a funny game, there are a lot of things that can happen with injuries and stuff," said Brown. "I was just hoping I would get one more shot."
And he did.
After losing a heartbreaking 6-5 game at Oregon State in the bottom of the 9th inning during the second weekend of Pac-12 play, the Wildcats were off to a mediocre 2-2 start in conference. And It wasn't looking any better for the Cats in game two as Arizona and Oregon State were locked up at 3-3 heading to the top of the 9th inning on a rainy, windy day in Corvallis, Oregon.
Then it came.
It was a moment that was more than four years in the making. Brown launched a 2-2 pitch that soared over the centerfield fence – his first career home run. Arizona would eventually go on to win the game and the series. Since then, the Wildcats have gone on to win three of their last four Pac-12 series and currently control their own destiny for the school's first conference title since 1992.
"You know we're playing really well as a team right now," said Brown. "I'm just really happy I'm contributing to help the team win."
Not only is he contributing, he's leading the charge. Brown is currently batting .345, with 35 RBIs, has two home runs and leads the team with six triples in only 116 at bats.
In addition, Brown was named one of five Louisville Slugger National Players of the Week after his monster performance against East Tennessee State after he went 9-12 from the dish while knocking in 9 RBI, extending his current hit streak to seven games.
In Brown's last year at Arizona, he's doing his best to make it one to remember.
"This by far has to be my favorite I've ever been apart of," said Brown. "This is a tight-knit group of guys, and I think we can make a really special run at this thing. The goal is Omaha; that's it."