NCAA Baseball Look-Ahead

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The 2018 NCAA baseball season is just over a month away. First pitch to get the year started will be on Feb. 16. Arizona State will be looking to bounce back after a tough end to 2017, Arizona will aim for a third straight postseason appearance under head coach Jay Johnson, and Grand Canyon will enter it’s first season of Division I postseason eligibility with the debut of a new stadium. 

GCU

GCU will debut the new Brazell Stadium on opening weekend against Texas Christian. 

For GCU to get TCU to their home turf on opening weekend is great for the program. In 2017, the Lopes opened 2017 against then No. 22 ranked Oklahoma State in Phoenix. They won the series 2-1.

TCU made it to the College World Series in 2017, coming up just short of the finals with a loss to the eventual champions, the Florida Gators. The Horned Frogs are ranked at No. 9 in Collegiate Baseball’s 2018 Pre-Season Poll. This matchup will be another tough first weekend for the Lopes, but don’t count them out.

Key returners for GCU include infielder Austin Bull, catcher Griffin Barnes, and pitchers Jake Repavich, Jack Schneider and Jake Wong.

Arizona State

ASU will open the season against head coach Tracy Smith’s alma mater and former team, Miami of Ohio. Word is that the Sun Devils have a solid freshman class that is expected to make an immediate impact. Mix the new talent with key returners like outfielders Gage Canning and Hunter Bishop, pitcher Eli Lingos, and infielders Carter Aldrete and Jeremy McCuin and the Sun Devils could be back on the rise.

With the hire of former Marlins’ minor league pitching coordinator, Mike Cather, pitching improvement will be the big thing to look out for in 2017.

Arizona

The Wildcats will start out 2018 against Bryant University. Last season, Arizona’s run for a second straight trip to the College World Series ended early in regionals with a loss to Sam Houston State.

For Arizona, the big thing will be filling the holes of players who were drafted. JJ Matijevic was a big bat and key infielder over the last two seasons. Matijevic was selected in the second round of the 2017 Draft by the Astros. Pitchers JC Cloney, Rio Gomez and Cameron Ming, outfielder Jared Olivia, and infielder Louis Boyd were also key pieces for the Wildcats that moved on with the draft.

Arizona has a strong incoming class of junior college transfers and freshman that will help fill those holes, as well as a core of returners. Among those returning, keep an eye on outfielders Alfonso Rivas and Cal Stevenson, catchers Ryan Haug and Cesar Salazar, infielder Nick Quintana, and pitchers Cody Deason and Michael Flynn.

Keep it on Sports360AZ.com for more college baseball coverage and tune in to the Diamonds in the Desert Podcast weekly for all your baseball news across the state.