Expectations are plenty high for Arizona baseball coach Chip Hale’s first season.
D1Baseball ranks the Wildcats No. 15 in its preseason poll, second highest in the Pac-12 behind No. 6 Stanford. Oregon State is ranked No. 18.
Arizona is led by Collegiate Baseball First Team Preseason All-American catcher Daniel Susac and 2021 Tucson NCAA Regional MVP pitcher Garrett Irvin.
Other key returnees include third baseman Tony Bullard, outfielders Mac Bingham and Tyler Casagrande and pitchers Quinn Flanagan and TJ Nichols.
Hale’s first freshman class at Arizona includes 19 players, four of whom were Perfect Game top 10 players in-state.
The Wildcats are reigning Pac-12 champions and should feasibly be in the hunt for a conference title again this spring. Arizona benefits from hosting Pac-12 heavyweights Stanford, Oregon State, UCLA and Arizona State this year.
Hale’s team is a little less than a month away from beginning the season at the State Farm College Baseball Showdown in Arlington, Texas.
There, Arizona will face Kansas State, Oklahoma and Texas Tech. The opening game of the season against Kansas State is Feb. 18.
The UA’s home opener is Feb. 22 against GCU.