Wildcats' bats smokin'

By Craig Degel

Arizona Daily Wildcat

When center fielder Diego Rico was a freshman at Tucson's Sunnyside High School, he had a phenomenal year that propelled him into the spotlight. Now, Rico is making the most of his collegiate freshman campaign.

He has been streaky, but is the only freshman in the top 10 in Pacific 10 Conference Southern Division in batting average. His .341 average is good for eighth on the list.

"(Being streaky) is a characteristic for a freshman," UA coach Jerry Kindall said. "He's learning the ropes as it were."

Rico is also sixth in hits and second in triples.

Junior third baseman John Powers had been in a 2-for-15 slump going into Sunday's game with Arizona State and was replaced in the lineup by Jake Thrower. Perhaps a few innings rest was all he needed.

He came into the game as a pinch hitter in the eighth and banged out an RBI single to bring the Wildcats to within one run.

"Johnny has not been hitting," Kindall said. "But he was ready when we needed him and he came up and got the hit.

"He bears the name 'Scrappy' and that is very descriptive of him."

He's in the last half of his senior campaign, but outfielder Menno Wickey has established himself as one of the premier leadoff hitters in college baseball.

He was moved into the leadoff spot midway through the season and has been on a tear ever since.

Wickey is hitting .331 and, in the Six-Pac is seventh in hits, first in runs scored, ninth in doubles, sixth in home runs, first in walks, fourth in slugging percentage, fifth in stolen bases, and fourth-toughest to strike out.

But perhaps the most important category that Wickey is near the top of is that of on-base percentage at .463.

"Menno has been the outstanding player for us all year," Kindall said. "He's got a tremendous on-base average and we moved him to the leadoff spot to focus on his ability."

The Wildcats will face Grand Canyon tomorrow night at Sancet Field and then finish their season with series' at Stanford on April 28, 29, and 30 and at home against Southern Cal on May 13, 14, and 15.

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