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Arizona baseball misses the NCAA Tournament

The Wildcats are out of the postseason for the first time in the Jay Johnson era

NCAA Baseball: College World Series-Arizona vs Coastal Carolina Bruce Thorson-USA TODAY Sports

The Arizona Wildcats have missed the NCAA Tournament for the first time in head coach Jay Johnson’s three-year tenure.

The selection committee released its 64-team bracket Monday morning and the UA was left out. Four other Pac-12 schools — Stanford (host), Oregon State (host), UCLA, and Washington — did make the cut.

Arizona was one of the first four teams out, along with Illinois, Kentucky, and UCF. The last four in were Troy, Dallas Baptist, Oklahoma State, and Northeastern. (The full bracket can be seen here.)

It’s not a surprise. Experts at Baseball America, Perfect Game, and D1 Baseball all projected the Wildcats would narrowly miss the postseason.

The biggest blemishes on Arizona’s resume? It finished 14-16 in the Pac-12, was 5-7 against top-50 teams, had an RPI of 46, and a strength of schedule of 54.

NCAA baseball tournament chair Ray Tanner specifically said a sub-.500 conference record was a hindrance to any team’s postseason aspirations.

The Wildcats were also 11-16 away from Hi Corbett, lost 13 games by one run, and lost eight games to teams with losing records. In all, they were 34-22.

On the other hand, UA’s biggest selling points — which Johnson laid out Saturday — were that it had a non-conference RPI of 11, won six of 10 Pac-12 series (including a series win vs. Oregon State and a sweep of UCLA), and won 15 non-conference games in a row.

Plus, Arizona was finally healthy after returning catcher Cesar Salazar, outfielder Cal Stevenson and, most recently, left-hander Randy Labaut from injury.

Evidently that wasn’t enough.

Looking ahead, Arizona will lose two starting outfielders and some key arms to graduation, and perhaps a whole lot more to the MLB Draft.

Here’s a brief look at who’s graduating, returning, or potentially leaving for the MLB Draft:

Key returners: 3B Nick Quintana, IF Jacob Blas, OF Donta Williams, IF Cameron Cannon, OF Matt Fraizer, LHP Randy Labaut, RHP Zach Sherman, OF Tate Soderstrom

Key departures: OF/C Ryan Haug, OF Cal Stevenson, RHP/DH Seve Romo, RHP Robby Medel, RHP Juan Aguilera, RHP Tylor Megill, RHP Zach Stone

MLB Draft candidates: C Cesar Salazar, RHP Cody Deason, RHP Michael Flynn, 1B Alfonso Rivas

Arizona has the No. 12 recruiting class in the country, per Perfect Game. The headliner is left-handed pitcher Matthew Liberatore, who is the No. 2 overall prospect.