Nathan Bannister, Arizona

Notebook: Arizona Impresses, Cajuns Hold


LAFAYETTE, La. — Arizona looked like a team trying to make a statement in a dominant 7-3 win over Sam Houston State.

Perhaps it had a reason to feel that way. As the NCAA announced the 16 host sites Sunday afternoon, there was something missing. Coach Jay Johnson’s Wildcats had put together a solid resume with a good record vs. RPI Top 50, good RPI and a strong standing in the Pac 12 Conference standings. However, their name was missing from the list of the 16 hosts, and no other West Coast team earned a host site.

Arizona Wildcats logoSam Houston State University logoIn many ways, the Wildcats were carrying their torch and that of the Pac 12 and West Coast to Cajun Country this weekend. It was an impressive showing for the Wildcats, who made the postseason in Johnson’s first campaign and showed balance in a win over a sizzling hot Bearkats club.

“I thought Arizona played extremely well, they were just very complete,” Sam Houston State coach Matt Deggs said. “They were very fundamentally sound and the Bannister kid was really good arm. He wasn’t going to wow you with his velocity, but he had a lot of back and forth and did a great job of changing his speeds.

“Arizona is a really good club, and they were really well prepared,” he continued. “They play defense extremely and played and coached better than us tonight.”

That comment from Deggs resonated with me. A few weeks ago during a rain delay while covering Rice and Florida Atlantic, legendary Rice head coach Wayne Graham made mention that he’d never seen a team as prepared for the first weekend of the season as the Wildcats, which took two of three from the Owls, on the road, to begin the season.


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