Ten Holiday wishes for Arizona baseball

WildcatAuthority.com takes a look at 10 wishes Andy Lopez would have for his program as the Holiday season comes closer.

There's no doubt that the 2012 Arizona baseball season looks to be a promising one. In fact, Christmas came about five months early this year as Greg Byrne played the role of Santa Claus by providing the baseball program with a new home for at least the next five years in the form of Hi-Corbett Field. But while the immediate future looks bright for coach Andy Lopez and his team, nothing was ever won on potential alone.

WildcatAuthority.com was lucky enough to snag a copy of coach Lopez's holiday list this year. Here are the top 10 items that were on it.

A Sunday Starter

Konner Wade and Tyler Hale combined to go 6-4 with a 4.11 ERA as the two Sunday starters last year. It's pretty safe to say coach Lopez would take that again. The problem is there are about five guys trying out for one spot this year with Wade now moving into the Saturday slot with the departure of Kyle Simon. Nick Cunningham, Tyler Hale, Matt Troupe, James Farris, and Vincent Littleman all have a legitimate chance to fill the void.

Bullpen Stability

The Wildcats surrendered the fourth most runs in the Pac-10 a year ago, giving up 241. The bullpen was responsible for 170 (70.5%) of those runs. While that total is large, it shouldn't be all that surprising, as Bryce Bandilla turned out to be the only member of the bullpen with an ERA under four last season. He and 2011 closer Matt Chaffee were both lost due to the MLB Draft.

A Big Masher

Whether chicks dig the long ball or not may still be up for debate, but the one thing that everyone loves are wins. Arizona hasn't had a player hit double-digit homeruns since the 2008 season, where the Wildcats actually had four players mash 10 or more dingers (C.J. Ziegler, T.J. Steele, Jon Gaston, and Brad Glenn).

It's probably no coincidence either that the 2008 campaign was also the last time the Wildcats reached the 40 win plateau as well as a Super Regional. Robert Refsnyder was second on the team in homers in 2011, just two behind Josh Garcia's team leading eight dingers. Garcia is now an assistant coach on the staff, so maybe together, he and Refsnyder can figure out a way to get over the 10-homer mark this season.

Home Sweet Home

Stanford, Arizona State, and UCLA are preseason favorites to contend for the Pac-12 conference championship. Arizona will host all three of these teams at Hi-Corbett Field this year. The Wildcats can only hope that their new home will be as comfortable as their old one was. The UA posted a 27-6 home record last season.

Beat the Sun Devils

If there's ever going to be a season where the Wildcats have a chance to be considered the better baseball school in the state of Arizona, this is the year. Arizona State comes into the season ranked No. 17 in the nation. This is the first time in three years the Sun Devils have not been ranked inside the top 10 nationally entering a season. With Arizona being ranked No. 20 entering the season, this is also the closest the Wildcats have been to the Sun Devils in the preseason rankings since the 2008 season when Arizona entered the season ranked No. 2 nationally and Arizona State was No. 8.

ASU also has one of the youngest teams it's had in years, losing 11 players to the MLB draft, including offensive standouts Zack MacPhee, Johnny Ruettiger, and Riccio Torrez. The Wildcats lead the all-time series on the diamond with the Sun Devils 233-208, but haven't won a season series against them since the 2006 season.

A student section

Football, basketball, and softball all have it, baseball needs it too. Teams need to feel intimidated when they come to play Arizona at Hi-Corbett Field. The UA students have made Arizona Stadium, McKale Center, and Hillenbrand Stadium hostile environments. Maybe the fact that alcohol is now being sold at Arizona baseball games will help give Hi-Corbett Field a similar atmosphere.

Some New Hardware

Arizona hasn't won a conference championship since 1992 when then coach Jerry Kindall led the club to an 18-12 conference record. Under Andy Lopez the Wildcats have finished second in the conference twice (2005, 2007) but have yet to claim the hardware. With Arizona State facing it's postseason ban this year, the Wildcats are considered one of the favorites to compete for the Pac-12 crown.

Renew last year's subscription to "Hitter's Digest"

Whatever Arizona hitters did last season to prepare for games, feel free to do it again. The Wildcats ranked third nationally in batting average and led the Pac-10 in almost every major offensive category last year. Arizona had nine players hit .297 or higher last season and six of those guys are returning this spring.

Hosting games in June

The combination of Arizona's new home and what should be a pretty open Pac-12 race gives the Wildcats a chance to do something they haven't done since the 1992 season: host a postseason game. Last season three Pac-10 schools earned number one seeds and hosted regionals. It wouldn't be an impossible task for Arizona to be one of those three schools this year. If we really want to get greedy, the Wildcats have also never hosted a Super Regional.

A Vacation to Omaha

People say Omaha, Nebraska is a pretty nice place around June. Arizona hasn't been there since 2004; maybe it's time to go back.

*Coach Andy Lopez did not actually write this list

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