Following their weekend sweep of St. John’s in the Super Regionals, Andy Lopez’s team will leave Tucson on Tuesday and head to Omaha where they will face Florida State this weekend in the opening round of the College World Series at Rosenblatt Stadium.
For Arizona (43-17), the road back to the CWS has been smooth as they breezed through the regionals outscoring Missouri and Louisville 47-10 before taking out St. John’s, which upset national power North Carolina, the previous weekend. The ‘Cats shared the Pac-12 title with UCLA and hosted the first two rounds of the post-season at their new home, Hi-Corbett Field just two miles from campus.
The success didn’t come as a surprise to those close to the program.
“We knew we had a veteran team coming back with some good pitching and a lot of leadership,” UofA Athletic Director Greg Byrne told Brad Cesmat Monday on ‘Big Guy on Sports.’ “Because of the great job of our coaches and kids, everything came together and we’re back to Omaha.”
The Wildcats failed to make it past regional play the past three years, but Lopez found the right combination of solid pitching and steady hitting. Although the players have gotten most of the credit, Byrne says it all starts at the top with Lopez who just completed his 11th season at the school.
“You’d want your son to play for him,” Byrne explained to Cesmat. “He cares about the kids in every aspect of their life. He’s a wonderful representative of our university and a fine baseball coach. I’m really glad he’s ours.”
Byrne said UofA should be well-represented this weekend with a large number of their Chicago alums expected to make the eight-hour trip to Omaha.
The Seminoles (48-15) swept Stanford over the weekend to earn their 21st-CWS birth.
UofA leads the all-time series with FSU 6-5.