Once again, TCU was knocking on the door. And once again, they couldn’t walk through.
The season comes to an abrupt end in Omaha for a third straight year. The Horned Frogs were one win away from making their first College World Series Finals appearance. But they ran into a buzzsaw called Coastal Carolina, who won two straight over TCU to move on. The Frogs found themselves going home empty handed once again.
Right now, thoughts are probably on missed opportunities. TCU had their share during the weekend series, but couldn’t capitalize while Coastal Carolina took full advantage of theirs.
“We were putting the ball in play; some hits just didn’t fall in for us,” said outfielder Dane Steinhagen. “We just couldn’t string a couple of hits together. Some timely hits that we needed we didn’t get.”
“We made some poorly executed pitches earlier in this tournament and got away with them,” said head coach Jim Schlossnagle. “Against their lineup, especially those left-handed hitters in the middle of the order, we didn’t.”
So now, after another disappointing ending, the focus turns to the future for TCU. This was a young team with a lot of uncertainty at the beginning of the season. But once the games started, they played beyond expectations. On paper, the team looks strong going into 2017.
“It does, and certainly it’s awful soon after making the last out to start thinking about next season, because we wanted to win this thing, man,” said Schlossnagle. “You have, at least as of right now, unless something changes, eight of those nine guys back in that lineup. And we feel good about the guys we have coming in.”
Part of that uncertainty going into the season concerned the pitching, with all the new faces in the rotation and the bullpen. But thanks to the emergence of pitchers such as starter Jared Janczak and reliever Durbin Feltman, this was not a rebuilding year in Fort Worth. TCU has become the type of program that does not rebuild, they reload.
For the next couple of seasons, the offense will revolve around Luken Baker. The Big 12 Freshman of the Year and second team All-American made his impact known on the national stage in Omaha, hitting a couple of big-time home runs early on during the College World Series. He has the talent and makeup to become one of the top names in college baseball.
TCU finishes the season with a 49-18 record. They were close to finally reaching the ultimate goal that is set every fall, which is winning the national championship. But these trips to Omaha have been a learning experience to the Frogs.
“I mean, it’s something that I’ll never forget for the rest of my life,” said catcher Evan Skoug. “I mean, coming to the College World Series two years in a row, playing and winning a Super Regional at Texas A&M, playing another Regional and winning another Regional at home. Those are just things you’re not going to forget.”
Written by C. James