The Arizona Wildcat baseball team returned home from Omaha, Nebraska with a championship trophy, their first College World Series Championship since 1986. With their win, the Cats denied the South Carolina Gamecocks their third straight championship.
Before the season began, the Wildcats home field was moved to Hi-Corbett Field. Usually used for spring training for professional teams, the Cats accepted the challenge. Playing in a field which was harder to hit home runs and more difficult to catch fly balls due to the increase in size, still didn’t faze the Wildcats.
In fact, the Wildcats won more than half of their games at home. After concluding the regular season, the Cats had won 38 games, 22 of them at home. They ended their entire season, including the post-season, winning eleven straight and only losing two of the last twenty. That was enough to earn them an invitation to Omaha for the College World Series, but not enough to earn a top seed.
The Wildcats came into the CWS unranked and as an underdog. However, this didn’t stop the Wildcats as they absolutely dominated the entire tournament. They outscored their opponents 27 to 8 and didn’t lose a single game. They beat the second best team in the nation, UCLA, and eliminated third best Florida State.
The Wildcats were able to earn themselves a trip to the finals against South Carolina, two-time defending champion and 8th best in the nation. Still, the Wildcats didn’t hesitate as they beat the Gamecocks in back to back games to win the College World Series in only two games.
It all sunk in when Wildcat right fielder and CWS Most Outstanding player, Robert Refsnyder caught the game winning out to finally call the Wildcats champions. From that moment on, the Wildcats were celebrating from Omaha all the way to Tucson.
In fact, more than 5,000 fans were still celebrating when the Wildcats returned home to McKale Center. Fans, family and faculty welcomed the Cats home with chants and the playing of the band.
After a long, grueling season in which the Wildcats had to make many changes, including the move to a new stadium, the Cats were still able to prove successful as they came home as College World Series Champions.