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Making the case for the Arizona Wildcats in the 2013 NCAA Baseball Tournament

Why the 2012 National Champions should be or shouldn't be included in the field of 64 this year

Arizona awaits word on whether or not they will have a chance to defend their National Championship
Arizona awaits word on whether or not they will have a chance to defend their National Championship
Bruce Thorson-US PRESSWIRE

After completing a series sweep of USC on Sunday, and winning two-of-three in Tempe against Arizona State last weekend, the Arizona Wildcats put themselves solidly on the bubble heading into the Tournament Selection Show Monday morning.

"I'm always optimistic, I've already got stuff planned for Tuesday night" said Andy Lopez.

Arizona finished the regular season with a 34-21 overall record, going 15-15 in the top-heavy PAC-12. Unfortunately, the PAC-12 does not have a conference tournament for the Wildcats to get the opportunity to play some of the top teams again while they are hitting their stride.

"Why not have a tournament? It sounds like sour grapes but I was saying that 12 years ago."

And they are hitting their stride. Konner Wade, James Farris, and Tyler Crawford each went at least nine innings this weekend, and Crawford has gone 2-0 with a save in the last nine days.

The problem is who the Wildcats played this year. Overall, the strength of schedule is right around 60th in the country, but against the top 50, Arizona was just 3-11. And they were only 5-15 against the top six teams in the conference (Oregon State, Oregon, UCLA, Arizona State, Stanford and Washington).

The Wildcats were 28-10 at Hi Corbett Field, but just 6-11 on the road.

Andy Lopez said before the ASU series that he thought they needed to go 5-1, which is what happened.

"We started off with five and six freshmen in the lineup, we're a lot better at the end of the year, and I think we come from a pretty decent baseball conference" said head coach Andy Lopez.

"In all honesty, I've never looked at the show. I go get my car washed tomorrow at 9 o'clock...and then I come in and someone tells me you're in or you're out."

"When you look at our season we didn't protect leads at Stanford, and that hurt us....I thought that was our strength" Lopez continued. "I really came into the season that our strength is we have some older arms, and it just didn't happen."

The last two weekends pitching-wise have been good to see, but also makes the rest of the season disappointing.

"If you look at the UCLA series, UCLA's got a pretty good pitching staff, but we never had a chance to compete with them....but I'll take full responsibility for it."

"It's not the best 64 teams, there's teams that are gonna get in because of the tournament and all the rest."

Sunday starter Tyler Crawford ended up leading the team in wins after picking up his seventh win to close out the year. "Crawford should get about six-seven wins. And your Friday night guy gets 10-12. And your Saturday night guy gets 9-10, and you're a one seed and you're hosting."

Friday starter Konner Wade finished the year going 5-6, while Saturday starter James Farris went 5-5.

"When your Sunday guy leads the club in wins you're left asking yourself what happened on Friday and Saturday."

The offense definitely did not drop off after losing more than half of the lineup from the 2012 squad. The overall team batting average ended up being .306, including Brandon Dixon, who ended up winning the PAC-12 batting title with a .369 batting average.

Johnny Field, who won the 2012 batting title, will end up finishing fifth in the conference with a .347 average, and Trent Gilbert was not too far behind hitting .344. Out of the seven players who played at least 50 games, only Riley Moore finished below .300 with his .285.

But for now, everyone sits and waits as the selection committee decides the Wildcats' postseason fate. The show will be broadcast on ESPNU at 9 AM Pacific time.