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NCAA Baseball: A look at Arizona’s opponents in the Fayetteville Regional

arizona-wildcats-baseball-ncaa-tournament-arkansas-razorbacks-tcu-horned-frogs-santa-clara-broncos Photo by Michael Wade/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

With all but one regional left to announce on Monday morning, Arizona’s chances to earn an NCAA Tournament bid looked bleak. But when the Wildcats saw their name on a pair of screens within their clubhouse at Hi Corbett Field, a massive celebration broke out.

It took a minute or two for the players to stop running around, screaming and hugging, at which point they probably had to hit rewind to see who they’d be facing in the Fayetteville Regional.

The UA (33-24) will open Friday at 6 p.m. PT against TCU, with host Arkansas facing Santa Clara in the first game at 1 p.m. PT. Friday’s winners and losers will meet Saturday, with the regional final set for Sunday.

Here’s a closer look at the teams the UA will have to get through in order to reach the Super Regionals:

Arkansas Razorbacks

Record: 41-16, 20-10 in SEC (1st in West Division, reached conference tournament semifinals)

RPI: 3

Records vs. NCAA tourney teams: 25-10


The Razorbacks are coming off a College World Series appearance in 2022, their 10th overall and third since 2018. They were co-regular season champs in the SEC and have reached 40 wins for the sixth consecutive full season.

Dave Van Horn is in his 21st season in Fayetteville, winning more than 800 games with Arkansas and more than 1,200 during a career that dates back to 1989 at Texarkana Community College. He’s an Arkansas alum and just won SEC Coach of the Year for the third time.

Arkansas is one of the best fielding teams in the country, with only 38 errors and a .981 fielding percentage. The Hogs are very comfortable playing in Baum-Walker Stadium, where they are 30-4 this season.

Players to know

DH Kendall Diggs: The sophomore leads Arkansas with 58 RBI and is one of three with 10-plus home runs. He’s drawn 42 walks.

LHP Hagen Smith: A first-team all-SEC pick, the sophomore is 8-1 with a 2.69 ERA. He’s struck out 102 batters in 67 innings, fanning nine LSU batters in 3.2 innings in the SEC tourney, and his 13.7 Ks per 9 is third-best in the country.

RHP Gage Wood: An all-freshman SEC selection, Wood has appeared in a team-high 22 games and has more than twice as many strikeouts (41) than hits allowed (18) in 28.1 innings.

TCU Horned Frogs

Record: 37-22, 13-11 in Big 12 (T-4th, won conference tournament)

RPI: 33

Records vs. NCAA tourney teams: 13-13


TCU was the preseason pick to win the Big 12, returning a large chunk of the team that won the conference regular-season title in 2022. But the Horned Frogs lost seven of eight at one point before getting hot in May; they’ll bring a 6-game win streak to Fayetteville, having outside their four Big 12 tourney opponents 48-15 en route to the title.

Second-year coach Kirk Saarloos, who had been an assistant from 2012-21, spent seven seasons in the majors as a pitcher. In his first season TCU reached the College Station regional final.

TCU is a top-100 team in batting (.295), slugging (.476), on-base percentage (.399) and scoring (7.8), but where it excels most on offense is with the run game. The Frogs have 129 stolen bases, tied for eighth-most in the country, and have six players with 12 or more steals.

The pitching staff is also solid, with a 4.83 ERA and four shutouts. The Frogs have allowed five or fewer earned runs in 16 of the last 17 games.

Players to know

3B Brayden Taylor: A potential first-round MLB pick in July, Taylor is second in the Big 12 in home runs (21) and runs scored (67) 21 homers and is 12 for 12 on steal attempts.

1B Cole Fontenelle: A teammate of Arizona’s Emilio Corona at Washington in 2021, Fontenelle is hitting .328 with 11 homers and 20 steals.

RHP Kole Klecker: A freshman from Chandler, Klecker is 9-4 with a 4.04 ERA over 75-plus innings. Opponents are hitting .214 against him, and in his last regular-season start he threw six no-hit frames against Kansas State.

Santa Clara Broncos

Record: 35-18, 17-10 in West Coast Conference (T-2nd, won conference tournament)

RPI: 81

Records vs. NCAA tourney teams: 3-4


The Broncos are in the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 1997 after allowing opponents to eight runs over four games in sweeping the West Coast tourney. They’ve won eight in a row and 17 of 20, one of the few losses in that span a 20-17 setback at Stanford in mid-May, and are 5-5 against Pac-12 competition.

Santa Clara coach Rusty Filter—yes, that’s his name—is in his sixth season running the program after spending eight years at Stanford. He’s also the Broncos’ pitching coach.

The Broncos are top-50 nationally in both batting average (.300) and earned run average (4.42), while their 2.50 strikeout-to-walk ratio is 29th in the country. They’ve had eight games where their pitchers have yielded one or zero walks.

Players to know

1B Efrain Manzo: Another Chandler product, Manzo leads Santa Clara with 17 homers and 54 RBI while hitting .318. He has five multi-homer games, including against Washington on the opening weekend of the season.

OF JonJon Berring: A 5-foot-7 junior, Berring had seven hits and three steals in the four WCC tourney games. For the season he’s hitting .326.

RHP Skylar Hales: 6-4 with a 2.81 ERA along with four saves, the junior has gone three or more innings in nine of his 19 appearances out of the bullpen.