After narrowly missing the NCAA Tournament for the second straight season, multiple Arizona baseball players were recognized for their performances throughout 2019 when the Pac-12 announced its seasonal awards and all-conference teams early Wednesday morning.
Leading the group of honored Wildcats was Austin Wells, who was named Pac-12 Freshman of the Year after he put together one of the best rookie campaigns in Arizona history.
In fact, the multidimensional Wells became the first Wildcats’ baseball player to be named conference freshman of the year since the inception of the award in 1999.
The Las Vegas native played a major role in the UA’s nationally-ranked offense (the Cats were second in all of college baseball in runs per game) and was a hit right from the start, literally. He homered in his first ever collegiate at bat.
Austin Wells hits a straight away shot in his first at-bat as a Wildcat to put the Cats up by 4! pic.twitter.com/tdFUDMS9jm— Arizona Baseball (@ArizonaBaseball) February 16, 2019
Mostly playing catcher and first base, Wells finished his freshman campaign with an impressive .353 batting average, 73 runs scored, 60 RBIs, 15 doubles, seven triples, five home runs and more walks (46) than strikeouts (43).
At one point this year, he held an on-base streak of 28 games.
Ultimately, Wells set Arizona freshman records for runs scored and OBP (.462), while also becoming the first ever Wildcat to both score and drive in 60 runs during their debut season. He tied the program’s freshman record for walks as well.
The now conference freshman of the year finished the season near the top of the Pac-12 leader board in multiple categories, ranking first in runs scored, second in triples, tied for third in RBIs, fourth in hits and walks, seventh in OBP and eighth in batting average.
Nationally, he finished sixth in runs scored and lead all division one freshman in the category. Among the nation’s freshmen, he also ranked tied for first in triples, third in walks, fourth in RBI, fifth in OBP and batting average, sixth in hits and ninth in total bases (122).
By winning the award, Wells fulfilled the prediction of his manager, Jay Johnson, who said earlier this week that he felt that his player deserved the honor.
“I believe Austin should be Pac-12 Freshman of the Year,” the skipper said Tuesday at his end of season press conference. “I can’t tell you how many opposing coaches came up to me and were like ‘Whoa, that’s what a player looks like.’”
Juniors Nick Quintana and Cameron Cannon were also honored on Wednesday, when they were included in the Pac-12’s All-Conference Team.
Wells and the injured Matt Dyer were given honorable mentions.
Sophomore outfielder Donta Williams was named to the conference’s All-Defensive Team, while Quintana was given an honorable mention in that squad as well.
Since Johnson took over as head coach in 2016, the Wildcats have now fielded 15 all-conference selections.