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- Andy Lopez Coach Of Year
- Article printed in July 13 edition of
It marks the third time that Lopez has
been honored by Collegiate Baseball as Coach of The Year. He also was
chosen in 1992 after he guided Pepperdine to the national championship and
then once again in 1996 when he led Florida to the College World Series.
Under Lopez, Arizona won its fourth
overall national baseball championship at the recent College World Series
with a perfect 5-0 record. In a rare achievement, the Wildcats never trailed
in the 2012 CWS as Arizona became only the third team in history to
accomplish this feat.
The mark of every great coach is the
progress his teams make as the season unfolds.
And under Lopez’ guidance, the team was
magnificent late in the year as the Wildcats won 11 consecutive games to
close the season and captured 18 of its last 20.
Arizona ended the College World Series
with a team ERA of 1.12 over five games (eight runs in 48 innings).
During the entire 2012 NCAA tournament,
the Wildcats posted a superb 1.91 ERA as Arizona went unbeaten in 10
Lopez became only the second coach to win
an NCAA Division I baseball national title at two different schools
(Pepperdine, 1992) and this year with Arizona.
Lopez and his assistant Shaun Cole, who
both work with the pitchers, were faced with a difficult dilemma as the
season unfolded. The relief pitchers being utilized were not consistent and
struggled a great deal at times.
Lopez felt that their three key starting
pitchers must go as far as possible in games and asked his starters to aim
for this goal. It was a philosophy that he has utilized in the past when
relief pitchers struggled. But never to this level.
Arizona’s three main starters threw 16
complete games (seven by Kurt Heyer, six by Konner Wade and three by James
Farris). This trio threw eight over the Wildcats’ final 19 contests.
Years ago, pitchers started what they
finished. And Lopez brought this old concept to the forefront that had not
been seen at the College World Series in 50 years.
Behind 7.6 innings from Farris in the
title game 4-1 win over South Carolina, Arizona became just the fifth
national champion in Division I baseball history – and first since 1957 – to
get at least 7 1/3 innings from its starter in every game of the CWS.
The only other teams to accomplish the
feat were Oklahoma in 1951 (four games), Holy Cross in 1952 (seven),
Michigan in 1953 (five) and California in 1957 (five).
If you look at the Arizona starters for
the entire 2012 NCAA tournament (regional, super regional and CWS games
which included 10 games), Arizona starters went at least 7 1/3 innings in
every game, averaging 8.5 innings per start — unheard of in this day and age
of baseball where starters go five or six innings followed by a setup man
and then a closer.
Another masterful stroke by Lopez is how
he handled RHP Konner Wade early in the season when he suffered from a
serious control problem.
At one point his ability to throw strikes
was so poor that he was missing the plate by two feet on pitches, and Lopez
refused to let batters stand in during bullpens for fear they would get
In a game against New Mexico St., Wade
threw 20 balls in 22 pitches and was pulled after one inning.
But with careful and diligent work both
mentally and physically with Wade, he started to improve. His incredible
ball movement that was a serious problem suddenly became a weapon as he
At the College World Series, he was
brilliant. In two complete games against UCLA and South Carolina over 18
innings, he only surrendered only one walk with seven strikeouts and gave up
one run for a 0.50 ERA against two of the best teams in the nation.
A veteran of 30 years as a collegiate
head coach, Lopez has an overall record of 1,090-664-7.
He is one of just three skippers in all
of NCAA Division I history to lead three different schools to the College
World Series (Arizona, Florida, Pepperdine).
Going into the 2012 season, 113
players coached by Lopez have signed professional contracts.
- TUCSON, Ariz. — Andy Lopez, head baseball coach at
the University of Arizona, has been named National Coach of The Year by
Collegiate Baseball newspaper.
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