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Arizona baseball: Scott Kingery goes from walk-on to Pac-12 Batting Champ

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The three-year progression that Scott Kingery has had at Arizona is truly remarkable

Jason Bartel

Scott Kingery was not exactly a blue-chip prospect coming out of Mountain Pointe High School in 2012, despite being named a first-team Louisville Slugger All-American his senior season.

"I figured my small stature I wouldn't have very many teams looking at me," Kingery joked. "I think I was like 5-6, 150 pounds, so yeah, I wasn't thinking too much about (pro ball), I was looking more at college offers."

Kingery did not come to Arizona on a scholarship though. Head coach Andy Lopez offered the diminutive prospect a walk-on spot with the club.

"They give you an equal shot," Kingery said about the coaching staff. "If you can play, they're going to play you. So coming on as a walk-on, I knew I had to prove something, and I mean these past three years have been incredible."

"Given the opportunity my freshman year to just come in and have that fall roster spot, that meant a lot to me, and for me to be able to play and start three years it's been incredible."

Kingery played in 41 games his first year, finishing with a batting average of .261, and only recording eight extra-base hits.

But his sophomore season is really where he turned the corner, leading the team with a .354 batting average, and his slugging percentage went up more than a hundred points.

That .354 batting average wound up being fourth-best in the Pac-12.

Fast forward to this year, and Kingery finished atop the Pac-12 with a .392 batting average.

"That's pretty cool," he said of winning the Pac-12 batting title. "With how many great players there are in the Pac-12 it's pretty cool to have that."

"I knew this year that I wanted to be the guy on top at the end of the year. It was definitely one of my goals in the beginning of the year."

It wasn't just the batting average that went up. He was fifth nationally in total hits. He was second in the conference in slugging percentage behind Bobby Dalbec. He was 30th in the country and first in the Pac-12 in total bases. He led the team with five triples. Was second on the team with five home runs. He struck out fewer times than anyone not named Kevin Newman.

So what changed as he kept progressing in the college game?

"I'd say driving the ball up the middle and to the right side," he explained of his improvement. "Last year I think I was more of a pull-hitter. This year I kind of sprayed it all around the field, so that definitely helped a lot."

Kingery also changed positions this season, moving from center field to second base.

"It was awesome," shortstop Kevin Newman said about watching the transition. "He came in, helped out a ton in the infield. He wasn't just a fill-in. He was a star. A stand-out player. Really made our infield one of the best in the nation, and to have him be so effective, couldn't ask for anymore."

"He works hard, and he deserves everything that he's gotten and I'm very happy for him."

"After watching him for the last three years, he's a great young man and boy what a good baseball player," Andy Lopez added.

Fair to say that whatever MLB team picks up Kingery in the early rounds of the MLB Draft that they'll be getting a hard-worker who will fight his way through the system quickly. It's been amazing to watch him progress over the last three years, and he definitely deserves everything that's coming his way.