The 2012 NCAA Champion University of Arizona Wildcats are already practicing in preparation for next season.

“We’re just going through the fall,” says head coach Andy Lopez. He points out fall practice consists of focused sets of fast-paced drills, weight training and scrimmage games.

Lopez says winning the title in 2012 –- Arizona's fourth NCAAbaseball championship -- did not come easy given the competitive nature of NCAA teams, and it won't be easy to repeat.

“There are usually 15 to 20 teams each year that stand a chance to win a national championship in college baseball,” Lopez says. “I always felt that if we played well at the end, we stood a good chance because it was an older team.”

This season will begin with a much younger team than last year, and five key positions will have to be filled.

“They will more than likely be replaced by freshmen,” Lopez says. “You have this every few years, and I’m comfortable with it. … It’s just a matter of getting these young guys to play a little bit older than they really are.”

Lopez cites last season's move to Hi Corbett Field as an important factor in the team’s success. He points out the team stands a better chance at succeeding in Hi Corbett, in part, because the facility allows UA to host regional play.

“NCAA statistics will prove that 73 percent of the time the team that hosts advances,” says Lopez. “It’s critical that [the team] play well, and it’s critical that the administration help you get that host seed. ... We have that here at Hi Corbett.”

The first game of next season is scheduled for Feb. 15, 2013.