When the stakes get high, the game can get fast.
Having experience in high pressure situations helps that, and for the Arizona Wildcats, they have experience in the right places heading into postseason play.
On Sunday, seniors Louis Boyd and Kyle Lewis likely played their last games at Hi Corbett, but it certainly wasn’t their last in an Arizona uniform as the team now readies for the Lubbock Regional.
“I love those guys,” head coach Jay Johnson said of his senior middle infield after Sunday’s game. “There’s good players sitting on the bench, and those guys play because they do a lot of things to help us win, and they’re a big reason why we’ve had a lot of success here over the last couple of years.”
Those two were among the eight seniors honored in a ceremony about half an hour before the regular season finale against Cal.
Arizona baseball senior day pic.twitter.com/TApKSDRPdr— AZ Desert Swarm (@azdesertswarm) May 28, 2017
“It was a pretty special day at the start,” said Lewis about Sunday’s festivities. “The atmosphere here is unlike anywhere in the country and it’s great playing in front of these fans.”
“It was nice,” Boyd added of the Senior Day ceremonies. “Really professional school and organization, but as skip says, we don’t want to make a huge deal about Senior Day right now because we’ve got lots of baseball to play. We wanted to make it a good deal then move on from it and focus on the game.”
Having a middle infield of two seniors is not something a lot of schools will showcase, but the fact that Arizona has it will play in their favor as the postseason gets rolling.
“I think that’s huge,” Boyd said about having two seniors there. “Coming down here there’s a lot of one-run games, and when there’s one-run games you need a lot of good defense and we had that last year so it’s kind of like the same blueprint. We know what we’ve gotta do and we have the guys in the right spots, so that’s huge.”
“It definitely makes a difference,” added Lewis. “Just the communication on the defense, things are moving a little smoother, and being able to make routine plays. That comes up big in postseason and moving forward and if we can make the routine plays and communicate with our outfielders and our infielders and get all the plays right, I think we’ll be in good shape. It’s definitely important with the experience for me and Boyd up the middle.”
Last season, Boyd played a lot at shortstop, but Lewis was more of a spot player at third base with Cody Ramer filling the role as the starting second baseman. But as the year’s gone on, Lewis has kind of settled into his spot at second base.
“Yeah a little bit,” he said if the game’s slowed down for him this year. “Last year I wasn’t really a starter at all, so it’s just a different role to be in. I was always a little anxious to get in the game and waiting there, but it’s definitely slowed down this year and I’m feeling really confident.”
With prolific offensive teams filling up the Lubbock Regional, there’s no doubt that Arizona will have to be on its game defensively if it wants to get out of the first weekend. And with two seniors up the middle, chances are that will happen for this team.