TUCSON, Ariz. – The University of Arizona baseball team is ranked No. 24 in Collegiate Baseball's Fabulous 40 NCAA Division I Preseason baseball poll presented by Big League Chew bubble gum released Friday.
The Wildcats, who finished 34-21 overall last season, will return 19 players, led by shortstop Kevin Newman, who earned Pac-12 All-Conference honors as a freshman. Also returning is starting pitcher James Farris, a 15th-round draft selection by the Houston Astros, who did not sign and figures to be the staff's ace as a senior.
Arizona hosts one of the nation's best home schedules, which will see national runner-up Mississippi State visit as part of a three-day tournament March 7-9. The Bulldogs are ranked No. 2 in Collegiate Baseball's preseason poll and will play four games with two each against Arizona and UC Santa Barbara. Also visiting Tucson will be No. 4 Oregon State (March 28-30), defending national champion and 15th-ranked UCLA (April 11-13) and No. 22 Arizona State (April 25-27).
Outside of the top 25, Stanford is ranked No. 26 and will visit Tucson May 9-11. The Gauchos, which are part of the three-team tournament with Mississippi State, are tabbed No. 39.
The Wildcats are one of five Pac-12 teams ranked in the poll. In addition to the Beavers, Bruins and Sun Devils, Oregon checks in at No. 6 in the initial rankings. Arizona will travel to Eugene, Ore., for a three-game series May 2-4.
Preseason practices will begin in mid-January once the spring semester commences. Arizona's opens its 2014 campaign with a three-game series against Kent State, a 2012 College World Series participant, Feb. 14-16.
General admission season tickets are currently on sale through the McKale Ticket Office (520-621-2287) or online at www.arizonawildcats.com. Single game tickets will be available starting Feb. 3.
Pic courtesy: Tucson Citizen