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NCAA Baseball Tournament: Arizona will need Nick Quintana to find early season form in Lubbock Regional

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Can the freshman get the bat going again?

Nick Quintana walks towards Arizona head coach Jay Johnson
Jason Bartel

Early in the year, Arizona Wildcats freshman Nick Quintana was taking the baseball world by storm with not only his hair, but his free-wielding approach at the plate.

After the team’s first Pac-12 series of the season, Quintana’s batting average sat at a lofty .411 thanks to a 7-for-16 weekend at UCLA.

But since that trip to L.A., that average has been in freefall mode, and now on the eve of Regional play, the 11th round pick in last year’s MLB Draft now has an average of .293, and was just 7-for-45 at the plate in May.

“I think he’ll be fine,” head coach Jay Johnson said of his third baseman as the team enters postseason play. “He had a very good freshman season, and you can’t lose track that we played a great schedule, and I think he’s looking forward to it.”

One of the things that drew Quintana to playing baseball at Arizona was this very moment...getting past the regular season and into Regional play.

“I’m super excited for my first postseason,” he said. “This is what I looked forward to coming here so I’m excited.”

“He came here and bypassed professional opportunity, and I think last year’s postseason success of our team had a lot to do with guys like him and Cameron Cannon, Matt Fraizer, Cal Stevenson, Cory Voss wanting to come here,” Johnson added. “So I know all of ‘em are excited and I’m not worried about (Quintana) in this venue, and he might be a little bit better to be honest with you.”

Before coming to Tucson, Quintana’s experience of watching the postseason came last year by watching it on his phone at a jewelry store in San Luis Obispo with his summer team, but he wasn’t huge on the whole event before that.

“A little bit,” he said of how much he paid attention to it growing up. “I’m not big on social media so I really didn’t pay attention that much. I watched some games on TV and Pac-12 Network and stuff like that, but once they went to the playoffs it was definitely fun to watch.”

Well, now he’ll be all in on it, and if Arizona’s going to be successful in a Regional that’s loaded offensively the way Lubbock is, they’re going to need Quintana’s bat to catch fire when it gets to Texas.

That could be the difference between a first weekend exit and a deep postseason run.