Ouch. It hasn’t been a pretty start for Arizona baseball in the first half of the Pac-12 season, as the Wildcats (18-11, 3-6) got swept in their first two series against the Oregon schools to begin conference play at 0-6 and are already only four losses away from matching the number of losses they had in conference play last season. The poor performance to kick things off has in fact knocked Arizona out of the top 25 standings. Hopefully, Arizona’s recent sweep over Utah will kickstart the Wildcats in the direction they headed last year.
Arizona’s offense is still one of the best in the conference with an overall batting average of .308 (2nd), an on base percentage of .408 (1st) and 180 RBIs (1st). Arizona’s pitching so far isn’t any better or worse than last year (last year Arizona finished 7th overall in pitching, this year they are currently 6th). The difference, therefore, seems to be in the “it” factor, or the ability for Arizona to score runs when it matters. Though the Wildcats lead the conference in RBIs and overall runs, they have still managed to leave a considerable number of runners on base in situations where the runs are vital and where veterans that are now gone would have found a way to get it taken care of last year; as many runs as Arizona has brought in, there has still been room for many more which has in many cases been the difference between winning and losing. The Wildcats have a lot of new faces on the team this year who are still developing their role on the team. Additionally, Oregon and Oregon State–both of which were solid teams last year–are improved this season. In fact, the Pac-12 Conference is no slouch overall this year–five teams (not including Arizona) are currently in the top 25.