Arizona baseball: Freshman outfielder getting unexpected chance to play

2013-02-19T00:00:00Z Arizona baseball: Freshman outfielder getting unexpected chance to playDaniel Berk Arizona Daily Star Arizona Daily Star
February 19, 2013 12:00 am  • 

Scott Kingery was six weeks away from being a college freshman, and still wasn't sure what the plan was.

The Phoenix Mountain Pointe High School product committed to Central Arizona Junior College in Coolidge during his senior year, but was holding out hope for a Division I scholarship offer.

Instead, he watched as his high school and summer ball teammates signed with big-name schools.

Kingery wondered if his chance was coming. Finally, at a summer baseball tournament in late July, he caught a break.

Arizona Wildcats assistant Matt Siegel went to watch Kingery after pitching coach Shaun Cole recommended him.

Siegel liked what he saw and offered Kingery a spot with the Wildcats.

There was one catch: he had to walk on.

"I was disappointed I didn't have any offers, but I think I made the right decision by coming here," Kingery said.

He did, indeed.

Kingery started all three games of last weekend's series sweep against Coppin State, reaching base in six of 15 plate appearances and knocking in four runs. He'll likely be back in left field and in the leadoff spot tonight, when the Wildcats (3-0) travel to Long Beach State for a two-game, midweek series.

Kingery blew coach Andy Lopez away during fall practice and hit .480 during intersquad games. The performance was enough for Lopez to anoint Kingery the team's leadoff hitter and probable left fielder for opening day.

Then, Kingery got struck with mononucleosis.

He lost 14 pounds off his 172-pound frame and missed more than three weeks of practice in January. He wasn't allowed to have any physical contact with his teammates, and was forced to stay home and rest.

"It was rough knowing that I couldn't be out there with the guys, practicing and getting better," Kingery said.

"But, I also knew that if I just rested and got better, I could get out here and have a chance at the starting lineup."

Doctors cleared Kingery to return earlier this month. The freshman frantically tried to show Lopez he could still perform.

"I was trying not to think about it, but I knew all the work I had done in the weight room and on the field could be for nothing," Kingery said. "I was trying not to think about it, but in the back of my mind, I was."

Lopez said Kingery has played "very well - especially with the fact that he was out so long with mono."

"We practiced from January 9 for four weeks and didn't see him," he said.

"I wasn't sure what to expect."

Today

• Who: UA at Long Beach St.

• When: 7 p.m.

Contact reporter Daniel Berk at dberk@azstarnet.com or 573-4330. On Twitter @DSBerk.

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