Arizona did not just win the College World Series, it dominated it. However, this title will not be a stepping stone to a period of dominance for the Wildcats.
Winning this title was a major upset. South Carolina not only won the previous two national championships, but until last week, it had won 22 straight NCAA tournament games. It had a great roster filled with talent and experience that seemed to never give up.
Unfortunately for the returning champs, Arizona was simply too hot to cool down.
Despite coming into the tournament as the No. 14 team in the country, the Wildcats went 10-0 to take their fourth title in school history. They never trailed in their five CWS games and never scored fewer than four runs in a game during the tournament.
They received great pitching performances in the final two games, but it was the lineup that got them there. Arizona had eight qualified players finish the regular season with batting averages over .300, almost all of them with extra-base power.
The squad regularly dominated opponents with double-digit run outputs and even topped 20 runs a few times during the year.
Now, the team has to look toward what will happen next year. Many key contributors were selected in the 2012 MLB draft, and without them, a repeat performance seems unlikely.
Offensive and defensive leader Alex Mejia was taken by the St. Louis Cardinals along with pitching ace Kurt Heyer. The Most Outstanding Player of the College World Series, Robert Refsnyder, was selected by the New York Yankees in the fifth round.
These players, among others taken, were the major reason Arizona was able to have this level of success this season.
Each of these men are juniors and could elect to come back to school, but after outstanding seasons, it is difficult to imagine any of them being able to raise their stock even more. Plus, they all accomplished the team goal of a championship, and it is always nice to leave on top.
South Carolina had a great amount of success three years ago from younger players, and those men parlayed the success into two championships and another finals appearance. The Gamecocks had consistent pitching during that stretch and team leaders who stayed for years.
Arizona had an impressive run, but even a full team next season does not guarantee the same results that it had. If the key players choose to play professionally, the chance at a repeat drops tremendously.
Still, the Wildcats should be proud of the performance from this season and celebrate one of the best years in school history.
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