Frenzel hot as Wildcats open tourney
At this time last year, Cole Frenzel was leading Dickinson High to a North Dakota Class A state baseball title.
Today, he'll be in the lineup and at first base when the University of Arizona takes on Baylor at 1 p.m. in the Fort Worth Regional of the NCAA baseball tournament.
For Frenzel, who missed nearly two months with a hand and wrist injury, it has been a welcome extension to his team's season.
"It feels great to be in," Frenzel said. "We didn't quite finish as strong as we wanted, but we knew that if we get our shot, all it takes is to get hot for two weekends and you can get into Omaha."
Frenzel returned to the Wildcats' lineup in as a pinch hitter against UCLA on April 24. He went on to start the final 16 games of the regular season, 13 of them at first base.
He has started 18 of the 23 games he has appeared in after missing nearly 30 games because of his injury in March and April.
Since returning, Frenzel has been one of the Wildcats' most consistent hitters.
He went 13 consecutive games with a hit from the end of April through May 22. The streak ended on May 23 in the series final against Stanford, when he went 0-for-2.
"I was getting a couple lucky hits here or there," Frenzel said. "I've been seeing the ball pretty well. It feels great to play again. To crack the lineup feels good."
Since returning from injury, Frenzel is batting .333 (16-for-48) with 10 walks and a .448 on base percentage.
For the season, he is batting .299 (20-for-67) with a triple and six RBI. He has drawn 11 walks and struck out 14 times. His on-base percentage is .427, the third-highest on the team.
Frenzel said moving to first base -- he played mostly third base and shortstop in high school and American Legion baseball -- hasn't been too jarring of a move.
"It's definitely a change, moving from shortstop to third and then all the way over to the other side at first," Frenzel said. "It's pretty basic, catching the ball. It's not too hard, it's pretty easy actually. It's definitely a little bit of an adjustment. It's not too hard to make. It's a pretty simple position."
Getting into the NCAA tournament didn't seem like it was going to happy for the Wildcats (33-22) this year.
Arizona built some credibility through its wins, but also had its share of tough losses -- especially toward the end of the regular season. The Wildcats lost six series to end the regular season. However, they had the nation's 23rd-best RPI and eighth-toughest schedule.
This weekend, the Wildcats not only need to get past Baylor, but top-seeded TCU and No. 4 seed Lamar, who play the night game today. The winners and losers of each game play Saturday. The tournament is a double-elimination format and may last until Monday.
Frenzel said getting into the tournament is like getting a fresh start to the season.
"It feels great to be in," Frenzel said. "We didn't quite finish as strong as we wanted. But we knew that if we get our shot, all it takes is to get hot for two weekends and you can get into Omaha."