The Arizona Wildcats will open a three-game series tonight at Stanford, and the best pitcher in the nation will be there to greet them.

Cardinal senior Mark Appel was the No. 9 pick in the 2012 MLB draft, but turned down $3.9 million from the Pittsburgh Pirates to return to school. He’ll throw his fastball at 93-97 miles per hour and his slider anywhere from 85-88.

“We’re facing a guy that throws 97, is a top-five guy in the nation and decides to go back to school,” coach Andy Lopez said. “Lucky us.”

On Sunday, the Wildcats will send the anti-Appel to the mound in sophomore left-hander Tyler Crawford.

Crawford’s fastball is about the same speed-maybe a few ticks slower than Appel’s slider.

He’s not physically imposing at 6-feet-1-inch and 180-pounds, but he’s been just what the doctor ordered for the Wildcats the past three weeks.

Read more about Crawford and the Cats in Friday's Arizona Daily Star.