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Healthy Frenzel showing his importance to Wildcats

Cole Frenzel

TUCSON, Ariz. -- Cole Frenzel was expected to hit. Field, too.

But few expected the Arizona Wildcats slugger to be such a terror on the bases.

The sophomore from Dickinson is a perfect 4 for 4 in stolen bases so far this season; only two other UA players, Joey Rickard and Bryce Ortega, have more.

"I've never been slow, but I guess I've never struck them as a guy who can run, either," Frenzel said. "It's all about getting a big lead and a good jump. When Coach gives you the green light, gives you the steal sign, you've got to go."

Frenzel started at first base and hit second when Arizona (10-3) opened a three-game series with Northern Colorado with an 11-1 victory. He was 2 for 4 with an RBI double.

Through 14 games, Frenzel is hitting .421 with 18 RBIs; he went 4 for 6 with two RBIs in the Wildcats' win at UNLV on Tuesday.

"There's a real quiet toughness to him," coach Andy Lopez said. "He doesn't look like a long, lanky, 6-foot-2-inch athlete where you look at him and say, 'Holy smokes.'

"But he has good range, good first-step action, and he can steal a base for us. We're not shy to run with him."

There are three reasons for Frenzel's sophomore surge:

r He's healthy. Frenzel's freshman season was marred by a broken hamate bone in his right hand, an injury that cost him five weeks. He pressed when he returned, hitting .286 with more strikeouts (17) than walks (13).

Things are different this season. Frenzel was penciled in as the Wildcats' starting first baseman during fall practice and has taken advantage of the guaranteed playing time.

"The biggest difference, mainly, is just being healthy and being able to go out there and play," he said. "It's been great to help the club out."

r He's stronger. Frenzel spent the off-season in the weight room, redistributing the 214 pounds on his 6-foot-1-inch frame. He boosted his squat from 350 pounds to over 500 and his bench press from 235 pounds to 300.

The resulting strength has helped in all aspects of Frenzel's game; he says he's "night and day" better than last year.

"I feel faster. I feel stronger. I feel like my bat speed is up," he said. "Once you get in really good shape, your body just feels better."

r He's getting on base. For all the talk about stolen bases, Frenzel's biggest strength remains his ability to reach base. He leads the Wildcats with nine walks and is second with a .508 on-base percentage.

"He's way more patient," Lopez said. "He's coming through in clutch situations for us. Of the guys in our group, he's the one that I never worry about bringing up there in bad situations. ... He's healthy, he looks great, and he's really, really playing well."

This article was provided special to

The Dickinson Press from the Arizona Daily Star in Tucson, Ariz.