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The No.1-ranked University of Arizona baseball team boasts several top pro prospects who may leave after the season.
With UA playing eight games in 10 days, the players already are learning what a minor league daily grind is like.
Arizona’s fifth game in six days produced a 16-6 victory over UNLV at Sancet Stadium on Wednesday. The Wildcats improved to 7-1.
“I love the schedule we have,” UA outfielder T.J. Steele said. “Your focus is only on baseball. It also helps you at the next level, playing every day. This is the closest thing you are going to get to playing every day while you are playing college baseball.”
Excuse Arizona coach Andy Lopez if he isn’t as happy as Steele about the schedule. The NCAA reduced it by three weeks this season, but kept the number of games the same.
The NCAA pushed back the start of the season to help cold weather teams who had complained they were at a competitive disadvantage.
“It’s absolutely ridiculous,” Lopez said. “It makes no sense at all. I hope and pray the NCAA will look at it hard and say maybe we made a little bit of a mistake.
“The NCAA is about the student-athlete experience. You cannot tell me this is a good experience. This is quite a challenge.”
Missed class work and scheduling difficulties to fill out the slate with midseason games has become a chore for UA, top-ranked by Baseball America.
“Way too much,” Lopez said when asked about school being missed. “This is my 26th year coaching at the college level, and I have never, ever, seen a schedule we are about to encounter in regards to baseball and more importantly the reality of missing class.”
Arizona will play nine games in a 13-day span later this month before suiting up for 20 games in April.
The Wildcats take to the road Thursday to Corpus Christi, Texas, for a three-game set at the Whataburger Classic.
at Corpus Christi, Texas
Friday: No. 1 UA (7-1) vs. South Alabama, 6 p.m.
Saturday: UA vs. Texas A&M-Corpus Christi, 7 p.m.
Sunday: UA vs. Notre Dame, noon