Based on how fall practice went, Cam Walty figured to be in Arizona’s weekend rotation and Mason White was going to be in the batting order every game. But not everything works out as intended.
While White has started the majority of the Wildcats’ games, it’s only recently that he’s showed the kind of plate presence he had during those fall scrimmages. For Walty, injuries had kept him from being at full strength and limited him to long relief in a few lopsided games the past month.
On Tuesday night, both looked like the players the UA had been planning for entering the season.
Walty threw five shutout innings in his first start for the Wildcats, while White had two more extra-base hits in a 14-2 win over New Mexico State at Hi Corbett Field.
It was the third consecutive win for the UA (17-13) after dropping 10 of 12, including 10 in a row in Pac-12 play. The Wildcats have scored 39 runs in the past three games and for the season are hitting .308, third-best in the conference.
Walty, a transfer from Nevada, said an oblique injury he had last summer resurfaced during his last preseason outing. That caused him to not make his UA debut until March 7 when he allowed three runs in 1.2 innings of relief. In 7.2 innings over four appearances he had a 10.57 ERA with six strikeouts, but against NMSU he struck out six, walked one and allowed a single to lead off the fifth.
“I’d say the outing kind of showed that,” Walty said when asked if he was back to 100 percent.
Recruited by Arizona out of high school, Walty picked Nevada over the Wildcats, Long Beach State, San Diego State and UC Santa Barbara. He made 27 starts for the Wolf Pack in 2021-22, including a 3-hit shutout of the Wildcats last April at Hi Corbett.
“I just kind of felt like a change of scenery was a good place for me, and I had already really liked this place out of high school, it just didn’t work out,” he said. “I just felt like this was the best fit, and once I came, I knew it was the place I wanted to go.”
White, a freshman from nearby Salpointe Catholic High School, had an RBI double to help spark an 8-run second and added a run-scoring triple in the fourth. He’s 11 for 24 during a 6-game hitting streak, raising his average to .293, and 14 of his 24 hits this season are for extra bases.
“For the most part, I think I figured out what I was doing wrong,” White said. “A lot of cage work. I’ve been in the cage for so long. I fixed a few things, approach was changed a little bit.”
Six UA players had two hits against the Aggies including freshman Brendan Summerhill, who had an inside-the-park home run during the second. That was the first of the Wildcats’ four homers, including the 12th and 10th bombs of the season for Chase Davis and Kiko Romero and a pinch-hit homer from freshman Maddox Mihalakis.
Arizona returns to Pac-12 play Friday at Washington State. The Wildcats are 5-10 in conference play this season and winless on the road, getting swept at UCLA and ASU earlier this season, and overall have dropped 10 straight Pac-12 road games.