Dec. 20, 2011
TUCSON, Ariz. - The preseason honors continue to roll in for the Arizona baseball team. On Tuesday, junior right-handed pitcher Kurt Heyer was named a third team Louisville Slugger Pre-Season All-American by Collegiate Baseball.
Heyer, a native of Huntington Beach, Calif., earns preseason recognition by the publication for the second straight season. A year ago, Heyer was also named to the third team preseason list and he went on to collect third team All-American honors by the outlet following an 8-5 season. The publication named him a Freshman All-American following a sensational rookie campaign in 2010.
In 2011, Heyer tied for the national lead with 20 starts and threw 138.1 innings, which was third-most for any pitcher. The 6-foot-2 righty registered the fourth-most strikeouts in the nation, 134, while issuing just 26 walks. His 2.41 ERA was fifth-best among all Pac-10 pitchers.
Heyer, who has been Arizona's Friday night starter each of the last two seasons, enters his third year in the program with some impressive career statistics. He has a 15-9 overall record, a 2.77 ERA and 243 strikeouts in 240.1 innings pitched over 37 total appearances (36 starts). Heyer is poised to move onto the school's top-10 charts for career games started, innings pitched and strikeouts with another strong season.
The 2011 Arizona pitching staff, led by Heyer and 11-game winner Kyle Simon, a fourth round draft choice by the Baltimore Orioles last summer, was one of the strong suits of a ballclub that won 39 games. The staff combined for a 3.57 ERA, the lowest mark for the program since a 3.25 ERA in 1975. Wildcat hurlers issued just 180 walks, which marked the second time since 1970 that the club was under 200 free passes for a season.
This year, Heyer is expected to team with sophomore Konner Wade to form yet another formidable starting duo. As a true freshman, the right-hander Wade posted a 3-0 record and a 3.21 ERA in 61.2 innings and finished the year as the team's No. 3 starter behind Heyer and Simon. The Scottsdale, Ariz., native made eight starts and 17 total appearances.
The Wildcats will use preseason workouts at Hi Corbett Field in January and February to identify a No. 3 starter behind Heyer and Wade. Candidates include a pair of juniors, including left-hander Vincent Littleman and right-hander Tyler Hale, plus some other veterans. True freshmen Mathew Troupe and Lucas Long were strong in fall workouts, along with several other young arms.
Those not in the starting rotation will factor in key roles in the bullpen, including the closer spot - a high priority for Andy Lopez coached teams. The Wildcats must replace left-handers Bryce Bandilla and Matt Chaffee, who led the squad with seven saves a year ago, as late-inning options.
Arizona opens its 2012 campaign in February. The Wildcats begin the season with a three-game series against North Dakota State (Feb. 17-19) and play their first 15 games of the year at the new home of Arizona baseball - Hi Corbett Field.
Season tickets are on sale now through the McKale Ticket Office and online. A special "Select-A-Seat" event has been scheduled at Hi Corbett Field for January 7, 2012.