Heading into the 2016 baseball season, Arizona head coach Jay Johnson needed seniors to step in and play some integral roles from players who did not get regular playing time as juniors. One who was challenged last offseason and has responded through the college baseball post season is senior pitcher Nathan Banister.
Last fall, the former Liberty High School product went through a rigorous off-season routine to get into better shape and the results have spoken for themselves.
“He lost 37 pounds and completely changed his body,” said Coach Johnson. “It’s led to consistency in his durability, being able to pitch deep in games, his arm speed, his ability to repeat pitches. It’s just been a great story.”
“I really started with Coach (Jim) Krumpos, our strength and conditioning coach,” Banister explained. “It started about a year ago honestly. I took some summer classes and had the opportunity to stay in Tucson. I transformed my diet, my strength and conditioning, just getting in the weight room more and looking at what I needed to improve individually.”
This work has led him to be the workhorse of the Wildcats starting staff with 18 starts this season pitching 132.2 innings going 11-2 with three complete games, an ERA of 2.71 and a strikeout to walk ratio of 98:29. This after a junior campaign that saw him start just seven games out of his 23 appearances with an ERA just under four.
“We through a lot more innings this fall,” mentioned Banister. “About 30 innings compared to past years when it was 15. Just getting to the end of the fall with so much weight and strength conditioning and throwing 75 to 90 pitches without getting tired out there was the first sign of it.”
Now Banister embark on an opportunity many did not think would be possible seeing as the Cats were picked to finish ninth in the preseason polls this season. They are headed to Omaha for the College World Series.
“When growing up, they were playing at Rosenblatt in the middle of June and that’s something you always wanted to do as a baseball player,” stated Banister. “It’s a great opportunity for our team, our players, our coaching staff and so it should be a fun time.”
Banister remembered watching the 2012 Wildcats win it all when he was a senior in high school and recalls things he learned from the returning players during his freshman season that has helped he and his fellow seniors lead on this exciting run.
“I got to watch what they did and that was pretty special,” Banister said. “Coming in and working with those guys on the team, you could tell why they made it and they were good leaders to look up to.”
Wildcats square off against Miami for their first game in Omaha this Saturday, June 18th at 5pm.