In the first two years under head coach Jay Johnson, the Arizona Wildcats have not missed the postseason.
We now know their path to a third straight regional bid.
It’s been known for a while now that Arizona would be participating in two early season “tournaments”. The Wildcats will be heading back to the Tony Gwynn Classic for the second time in the event’s now three-year history in addition to being part of the Pac-12/Big Ten Challenge in Minneapolis.
Those opponents are known already, and there’s a lot of San Diego and Big Ten going on.
After opening the season at home against Bryant, Arizona will face the Arkansas Razorbacks at Tony Gwynn Stadium before starting the Tony Gwynn Classic. The Cats will open the tournament against San Diego State before facing Michigan and Johnson’s old school, San Diego.
A quick midweek home contest against New Mexico State is followed by a trip to Minneapolis for the Pac-12/Big Ten Challenge, which will be held at U.S. Bank Stadium, the home of the Minnesota Vikings. Typically this tournament is played at various Cactus League stadiums, so moving it to a big venue like this is interesting and will be fun to see.
Arizona gets Minnesota, Illinois, and Michigan State over the course of that weekend. The other two Pac-12 teams going are Washington and UCLA.
SDSU comes to Tucson for another singular showdown with the Aztecs before a home series with North Dakota State.
Then comes the only midweek vs. Arizona State. UA goes to Phoenix on March 13th before opening Pac-12 play at Washington the following weekend. There is no second midweek game vs. ASU like we have traditionally. The only time the in-state rivals play each other again is a three-game series in Tucson May 17-19. That is also the last home regular season series.
Arizona does make another trip to Phoenix though, taking on Grand Canyon on April 10. The Lopes make the return visit to Tucson on May 8.
During Pac-12 play, the Wildcats have a total of eight midweek games, so there certainly won’t be a ton of downtime, which could be good if this team gets on a run. It will also force some more inexperienced pitchers to step up in live game situations against several teams that won their conference last year.
It’s also beneficial that the last series of the year (at Oregon) is a Thursday-Saturday series because of TV. That extra day of rest heading into Regional play could help setup the pitching rotation better than in the past.
Baseball is back Feb. 16. Get ready.
- Opening day: Friday, Feb. 16 vs. Bryant
- Tony Gwynn Classic: Feb. 23-25 (USD and SDSU)
- Pac-12/Big Ten Challenge: March 2-4 (U.S. Bank Stadium -- Minneapolis, MN)
- @ ASU: Tuesday, March 13
- Pac-12 opener: @ Washington March 16
- Home Pac-12 opener: vs. WSU March 23
- Oregon State series: April 6-8 in Tucson
- @ Grand Canyon: Tues, April 10
- UCLA series: May 3-5 (Thurs-Sat) in Tucson
- ASU series: May 17-19 (Thurs-Sat) in Tucson
- Selection Monday: May 28