Normally at this time of year, Arizona baseball would open the fall camp and begin preparations for the first of the annual October games.
But because nothing is normal in 2020, due to the global coronavirus pandemic, the Wildcats’ fall camp looks and feels much different this time.
With so many common things happening – from the fall shows being canceled, to being tested twice a week for COVID-19, or even distancing during exercises using the fields around Hi Corbett Field – the Cats have done a lot of the little things , everyday things are different when they go for the 2021 season.
According to the UA head coach Jay JohnsonDuring this unique time, feral cats generally benefit from having a list filled with capital letters.
“It’s a big deal,” Johnson said Thursday via Zoom. “We have not had a lot of seniors on our roster in recent years, and as a coach who appreciates experience, appreciates leadership, it is very valuable to have.”
Two boys that Johnson said he feels they have stepped into major leadership roles are senior fighters Donta ‘Williams and older right-handed jar Vince Vannelle, two of Arizona’s best artists in the shortened 2020 season.
“It’s a unique list, and it’s very important to get on the same page,” Johnson said. “We are not always allowed to do the things we obviously would have done because of the pandemic, so I will trust Vince and Dont’a, and they will be extremely critical of the team’s success. Their ability to lead and the ability to be good examples and build good reports with the younger players will go a long way in determining how successful this team is. ”
According to Williams, who was one of Arizona’s most prolific hitters before the pandemic, forced the 2020 season to be canceled – he hit. 348 and ran in 14 races in 15 matches – he embraces his new role as leader by trying his best to lead through his actions.
“I’m not the loudest person out there, but at the same time I’m just leading by example,” he said. “I’ve been here for four years now and it’s just taking the younger guys under my wing and just getting that connection and just holding them accountable and holding myself accountable for my actions and just giving them a way to see how things are running around the program. ”
Vannelle, who wants to be a fifth-year senior because the NCAA gave spring athletes an extra year of qualifying, finished with a 1.35 ERA in five appearances in the shortened 2020 season. Southwestern State College.
He says he and Williams’ approach to leadership is similar.
“I’m not a very big vocal guy, but what I really want to do is leave this program better than when I found it,” Vannelle said.
“I want to leave my fingerprints all over this program through all the hard work and all the extra hours that can be taught to the younger guys on how to do certain things that can really benefit other teammates, because it’s not really about me every other pitcher who is on staff and how I can help them and just talk about mental approach and certain things like that that can really benefit a younger guy. ”
When it comes to making sure teammates stick to the COVID-19 protocols, both Williams and Vannelle believe that the Wildcats do their best as a team to hold each other accountable.
“It’s just making sure our teammates want the season as bad as we do,” Williams said.
Added Vannelle: “When we first came back to campus, we all came to Zoom, and we started talking about why we are here. And we all want to win a national championship, that’s our main goal, and everything else is just a distraction at this point. ”