The Arizona baseball team continued to celebrate its recent national championship as the Wildcats were honored on the field before the Arizona Diamondbacks game against the San Diego Padres at Chase Field in Phoenix on Aug. 25.
The Diamondbacks organization welcomed Director of Athletics Greg Byrne, national coach of the year Andy Lopez, players and support staff from the 2012 national title team to Chase Field. The team was introduced to the crowd of 27,619 and pictured on the centerfield video board, and Lopez tossed out the ceremonial first pitch before the game.
The festivities in Phoenix were the latest chance for Wildcat players and fans to celebrate their championship. Players signed autographs and took pictures with fans on the field and in the stands during the game.
The Wildcats (48-17) won their fourth national championship in June after winning 18 of their final 20 games, including a perfect 10-0 march through the postseason. Arizona hosted the NCAA Regional and Super Regional rounds in Tucson at Hi Corbett Field, a venue that led all West Coast schools in attendance throughout the season.
Arizona, which also won a share of the Pac-12 championship, captured its third national title since the conference became a 10-member league in 1978. No other Pac-12 school has won more than two championships in that span.
In their final 20 games (18-2 record), the Wildcats batted .321, registered a 2.61 ERA and committed just 13 errors (40 by opponents) with a .983 fielding percentage. Offensively, the club outscored opponents 47-12 in two-out RBI, batted .367 with runners in scoring position and limited foes to a .233 clip in such situations.
The numbers were more impressive in the perfect postseason run. The Wildcats batted .353, turned in a 1.91 ERA and committed just nine errors (21 by opponents) with a .978 fielding percentage. The team outscored its postseason competition a cumulative 88-28, including 29-7 in two-out RBI. Arizona hitters batted .469 with runners in scoring position, while pitchers limited the opposition to a lowly .200 clip in such situations.
Kurt Heyer, who signed a professional contract with the St. Louis Cardinals following the season, was able to join his former teammates for the event. Heyer was the ace of a starting rotation that combined for a 31-8 record, a 3.30 ERA and 16 complete games on the season. They struck out 291 opposing batters and walked just 85 in 395.3 innings pitched (67 percent of team innings) over 57 total appearances. If the trio were a team, it would have ranked No. 2 nationally in fewest walks per innings pitched (1.94), fourth in strikeout to walk ratio (3.42) and ninth in WHIP (1.18).
The Wildcats begin defense of their national title on Feb. 15 against Coppin State at Hi Corbett Field. The official 2013 slate will be finalized later this fall once the Pac-12 Networks announce their spring programming schedule.
Arizona's fall practice season will begin on Oct. 8. Players will begin "skill hours" work on Sept. 4.