Greg Byrne's Wildcat Wednesday
Baseball Set To Open Season vs. Gonzaga
By: Arizona Athletics
Release: February 01, 2007
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Arizona Baseball Notes
Jerry Kindall Field at Frank Sancet Stadium
Tucson, Ariz.

Friday, Feb. 2 - 4 p.m. vs. Gonzaga
Saturday, Feb. 3 - 2 p.m. vs. Gonzaga
Sunday, Feb. 4 - 12 p.m. vs. Gonzaga

Potential Starting Lineup
Name B/T Pos Notes
1 Jon Gaston L/R RF Hit .297 with 39 runs scored in 2006
2 Robert Abel R/R SS True freshman
3 Bill Rhinehart L/L 1B One of two seniors on Arizona roster
4 C.J. Ziegler R/R DH JC transfer from Pima CC
5 Brad Glenn R/R LF Led UA with 10 HRs in 2006
6 T.J. Steele R/R CF Led the Pac-10 in hitting in conference games (.418)
7 Erik Castro L/R 3B True freshman
8 Kevin Rodland R/R 2B True freshman
9 Dwight Childs R/R C True freshman
Fri.  RHP Preston Guilmet Started 14 games in 2006, 87 Ks in 93 2/3 IP
Sat. LHP Daniel Schlereth Team leader with seven saves in 2006
Sun. LHP Brad Mills Team leader with six wins in 2006
CP RHP Jason Stoffel True freshman


Dedicated to Lee Franklin
On November 20, 2006, Wildcat Lee Franklin lost his long battle with leukemia. The 22-year old infielder played just one season at Arizona (2003), but his dogged determination on the field, in the classroom and in his battle with the disease left a lasting impression on all those who were fortunate to know him. The Wildcats have dedicated their 2007 season in Lee Frank’s honor.

Opening Day to be Broadcast Live

Brian Jeffries, the voice of the Wildcats, will call all of Friday's season-opening game action live on the radio on 1290 AM in Tucson. Fans that have subscribed to the All Access package at can listen to the game via the internet and UA's official website will also provide a live video stream of all the home games this season to All Access subscribers. Free Live Stats, powered by Tucson Electric Power, will also be provided for all 32 home contests and many of the road games as well.


Opening It Up

Arizona will begin its 2007 season by hosting Gonzaga for a three-game series Feb. 2-4 ... The Wildcats will start the season against a school from the West Coast Conference for the second consecutive year (Loyola Marymount in 2006) ... This will be the sixth straight year the Cats will open the season at home.


Getting Off on a Good Foot

After opening the 2006 season with a 2-to-1 series victory over Loyola Marymount, the Cats have won 12 straight opening weekend series dating back to 1995 and have gone 30-7 on the first weekend of the year during that span ... Dating back to 1994, Arizona is 12-1 on opening day, with the lone loss coming from BYU in 2003 ... Under sixth-year head coach Andy Lopez, UA is 13-2 all-time on opening weekend and has won four of five season-opening games.


Off Fast and in a Hurry

The Wildcats will certainly not be bashful about starting their season, as UA opens with eight games in 10 days. After hosting Gonzaga this weekend to begin the year, Arizona will welcome in Utah Valley State for a pair of midweek games on Tuesday and Wednesday and will then host New Mexico for three games next Friday-Sunday.


The Carry Over

Arizona ended its 2006 season on a five-game win streak, something it hopes to extend here in the early going ... Sophomore T.J. Steele wrapped up 2006 with an eight-game hitting streak, while classmate Brad Glenn had at least one hit in his final five games ... In the “There’s nothing you can do about now” file, Phillies third round pick Jason Donald was just two games shy of tying the Arizona record for most consecutive games with a hit when he completed his UA career on a 26-game tear. 


A Quick Look at Gonzaga

The Bulldogs enter the 2007 season with 16 letterwinners returning from last year’s 29-24 team ... The Zags went 9-12 in the WCC and finished tied fifth in the conference standings ... Senior third baseman Darin Holcomb highlights the five returning starters after finishing ?'06 with a .338 batting average, seven home runs and 57 RBI ... Holcomb was a second-team All-WCC honoree last season ... All-WCC Freshman team member Ryan Wiegand returns for his sophomore season after opening his collegiate career with a .330 average, one home run and 45 RBI ... On the mound junior right-hander Brandon Harmon returns after going 2-2 with a 3.25 ERA in 26 games last year ... Mark Machtolf is in his third season as the head coach at Gonzaga and has posted an 81-77 record in Spokane ... Arizona is the first of five Pac-10 teams slated to face Gonzaga this season (Oregon State, Arizona State, Washington State and Washington).


Arizona vs. Gonzaga - The History

Despite Gonzaga being a member of the Pac-10 North from 1982-1995, this season will mark just the second time the Wildcats and Bulldogs will meet on the baseball diamond ... The only other previous meeting came in 1980 with the Wildcats winning all four games between the two, including a pair of victories in the NCAA West Regional in Tucson that year. Those two postseason wins sent Arizona to its 12th College World Series appearance where it won its second national championship in baseball.


The Non-Conference Slate

Arizona will take a number of familiar faces in 2007, some that it hasn’t seen in a long time and one that it has never matched up against. On the more recent tip, Arizona will be looking for a measure of revenge against 2006 opponents New Mexico, UNLV and Cal State Fullerton. The three schools combined for a 7-2 record against Arizona last season, including a three-game sweep at the hands of the Titans. Of the more-recent opponents, independents Utah Valley State and Northern Colorado, both of whom faced UA in 2005, will head back to Tucson in the early part of the year. In the “Those Arizona has faced, but not recently” category Gonzaga (1980) has gone the longest since facing the Cats, while the series against Liberty (1990), Hawaii (1992) and Eastern Michigan (1997) will renew long dormant match ups. Hawaii-Hilo, which will host Arizona for a two-game set in March, opened its 2001 season against Arizona on the Big Island. The lone school meeting the Cats for the first time ever is Morehead State from the Ohio Valley Conference. The Eagles will pay a visit to Tucson in mid-match to help close out the non-conference part of UA’s slate.


The Home Schedule

Friday’s season-opener against Gonzaga is the first of 32 games scheduled to be played at Jerry Kindall Field at Frank Sancet Stadium this season. The Wildcats narrowly extended their streak of winning home seasons to 11-straight with a 16-15 mark in Tucson last year. A 2-to-1 series victory over Arizona State in the final home stand of the season kept the streak alive. The last time UA failed to have a winning season at home came in 1995 when it went 14-19 at Kindall Field. Since moving to the current site on the corners of Enke and National Championship drive in 1967, Arizona has posted 37 winning seasons at home, averaged nearly 25 wins per year and is just 14 Ws shy of its 1,000 victory at the facility (986-443-4).


Youth Reigns

Much like the 2004 CWS team, the 2007 Cats are a very youthful team. The roster features 16 true or redshirt freshmen, 10 sophomores, just five juniors and only two seniors. While young, Arizona is not inexperienced. Of the 10 sophomores on the roster seven of them contributed heavily to UA’s effort last year, including four pitchers that appeared in 13 or more contests and three position players that saw considerable action last year.


Welcome Back

Offensively Arizona returns four players that saw action in at least 46 of the 55 games played last season (OF/1B Bill Rhinehart, CF T.J. Steele, RF Jon Gaston and OF/1B Brad Glenn) and two reserves (Travis Peep and Hunter Pace).


Welcome In

The Cats will also count heavily on a number of newcomers this season. Infielder Robert Abel appears to have won the starting the shortstop job to begin the season, and classmate Erik Castro will open the year at third base. True freshman Dwight Childs will face the task of managing the pitching staff as the opening day catcher, while JC transfer C.J. Ziegler will vie for the DH slot in the batting order. Other newcomers that are expected to step up are freshman infielder Kevin Rodland and redshirt freshman and Vanderbilt transfer Diallo Fon


Pitching Options

The 2007 staff returns seven of the 10 arms that pitched for the Cats last season and will feature another redshirt freshman and four newcomers all vying for time on the mound. The returning seven pitchers teamed up to appear in a combined 124 games last season and start 46 of Arizona’s 55 contests. The only question mark for the Cats entering the year is where each player fits in the pitching mix. It appears the last season’s Friday starter Preston Guilmet (So., 3-7, 4.80 ERA) has renewed his role in the top of the rotation. However, he will be pushed by challengers Brad Mills (Sr., 6-5, 4.70 ERA), Mike Colla (So., 0-1, 8.32 ERA) and even 2006 closer Daniel Schlereth (So., 3-1, 7 saves, 4.56 ERA).


Back with the Pitchers

Arizona head coach Andy Lopez will once again serve as the pitching coach for the Wildcats. During his 25 years as a head coach on the collegiate level, Lopez has served as the pitching coach for all four of his College World Series teams, including UA’s 2004 squad.


Perry Out

The only Wildcat down with injury to start the year is sophomore right-hander Ryan Perry, who was injured in an off-field incident prior to the opening of spring camp. Perry, who broke his left arm, is out for at least a couple more weeks, will return to the pitching rotation and will factor in as either a part of the starting rotation or as the team’s closer.


Offensive Punch

With five regular starters and a pair of reserves returning, the Wildcats bring back a lot of their offensive numbers from last year. Arizona, which hit .305 as a team last season, returns 64 percent of its home run total from 2006, 53 percent of its runs and 50 percent of its hits, doubles, triples and RBI.


New Faces

The coaching staff has a pair of new faces, although those familiar with the UA program and Tucson baseball are probably already aware of them. Assistant coach Jeff Casper, a four-year letter winner for the Cats from 1998-2001, returns to Tucson after two years as an assistant at Yavapai JC in Prescott, Ariz. Casper not only played for the Cats, but he also served as the volunteer assistant under head coach Andy Lopez for three seasons (2002-04). Volunteer assistant Keith Francis begins his first year on the UA staff. He most recently spent the last two years at Pima CC here in Tucson, and was also the head coach at Canyon Del Oro High School in town. Francis guided the Dorados to a pair of 5A state championships in baseball. Casper’s primary responsibilities with the Cats will be with the outfielders and hitters, while Francis will look after the catchers and assist with the hitters as well.


Cats Picked Fifth

In a vote by the league coaches, the Wildcats were picked to finish fifth in the conference standings in a preseason poll. Arizona State was chosen to win the conference title, followed by defending national champion Oregon State, Stanford and UCLA. Southern California was tabbed sixth with Cal, Washington State and Washington rounding out the nine-team rankings.


Looking Back

The Wildcats completed the 2006 season 27-28 overall and 12-12 in the Pac-10. Arizona came up probably just one win shy of appearing in its fourth straight NCAA postseason after finishing fourth in the Pac-10 standings ... Offensively, last year’s squad batted .305 for the year and averaged 7.4 runs, 10.8 hits and 6.6 RBI per game ... After losing their top two pitchers to injury, the Cats struggled on the mound, finishing with a 5.41 ERA in 490 1/3 innings pitched. Still the pitching staff managed to post a better than 2-to-1 strikeout to walk ratio and average 8.8 Ks per game.


Renovations Continue

The renovation of Jerry Kindall Field at Frank Sancet Stadium continued over the offseason. New to the complex this year in a brand new press box and plaza in left field. The new press facility dwarfs the old one in size, features two independent radio booths, two extensive areas for print and electronic media members and a separate room for the game operations personnel. Additionally, the Legends Plaza honoring the team and individual player accomplishments has been added to the area down the left field line ... The air conditioned press box and left field plaza are just two of many features that have been added to the facility since 2002, including a three-tunnel batting cage (2003), a laser leveled new playing surface (2006), new bullpen mounds (2006), grass berm seating along the right and left field lines (2006), new score and video boards (2006), turf halo around home plate (2006), billboard in right field honoring UA’s 15 CWS teams (2006) and a new wooden outfield fence (2004).

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