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Former Freshman All-American Dayton Dooney leaving Arizona baseball

Photo courtesy Arizona Athletics

Sophomore infielder Dayton Dooney, one of Arizona’s top hitters, is transferring to Central Arizona College in Coolidge, as first reported by D1Baseball. The Arizona Daily Star later confirmed Dooney’s departure.

This move was telegraphed a few weeks ago when the San Diego League, a summer circuit for college players, listed Dooney as a member of Central Arizona, not the UA. However, a source close to the situation said then that Dooney was still a member of the Wildcats and hadn’t entered the transfer portal.

Dooney was named a Freshman All-American by several outlets in 2019 after hitting .323/.417/.596 with 10 homers, 14 doubles and 53 RBI in 48 games (40 starts). He struggled in the abbreviated 2020 season, batting just .146 in 13 games (12 starts).

Dooney played every infield position but catcher at Arizona, and also served as the designated hitter at times.

While a notable loss, Arizona will have a larger roster than usual in 2021 after the MLB Draft was shortened to five rounds and two of its four seniors—pitchers Preston Price and Vince Vanelle—opted to return for another season.

Even accounting for Dayton’s transfer and the loss of star catcher Austin Wells and utilityman Matthew Dyer to the MLB Draft, Baseball America ranks Arizona at No. 12 in its early preseason Top 25. And that was before the Wildcats added three highly-regarded players.

“Having Austin Wells depart was no surprise, whereas having Matthew Dyer drafted was more of one, but either way, Arizona’s offense will be extremely dangerous in 2021,” the site wrote. “The arrival of Daniel Susac should also help the Wildcats recover from having two catchers drafted. Their experienced pitching staff should also be improved and helped by the addition of four recruits ranked inside the BA 500.”

Arizona was 10-5 before the 2020 season was canceled by the coronavirus crisis.