If there’s any pressure resulting from being picked the preseason number team in the country before the first pitch of the season was ever thrown, TCU isn’t showing it.
After sweeping then No. 15 Oklahoma State over the weekend, the third-ranked Horned Frogs then swept the two-game series against UT Rio Grande Valley, running the current winning streak to five straight. The exclamation point of the series came in the 18-2 win when TCU erased a 2-0 deficit by scoring 11 runs in the second inning, highlighted by a grand slam from shortstop Mason Hesse. It was also his first career collegiate home run.
“I honestly did not think it was going out,” said Hesse. “Whenever I hit it, I thought it was a pop-up but the wind helped me a lot. Whenever I saw the guy on the track, I knew it was gone. It was an awesome feeling.”
TCU has been on a roll during the early part of the season with the only rough spot being a trip to California where the Frogs lost three of four to both UC Irvine and Long Beach State. However, it appears all TCU needed was a little home cooking to bounce back. The Frogs took two of three from Kansas before sweeping both the Cowboys and Vaqueros at Lupton Stadium in Fort Worth.
“They’re confident and that’s the most important thing,” said head coach Jim Schlossnagle. “These guys are feeling pretty good about themselves. Even though we’ve been winnings games, there’s a pretty high standard here.”
The one thing lacking from the accomplishment category is the national championship. TCU has made three straight trips to the College World Series, only to fall short of winning that elusive national title. Last season, the Frogs had a lot of new faces on the team. This season, those new faces now have the experience of playing on the big stage in Omaha, Nebraska.
“We got to play baseball together for a long time last year and got really close, so all the returners have been to Omaha at least once and know what it’s like to win close ballgames,” said pitcher Brian Howard. “Last year, we had a bunch of new guys and a bunch of guys stepping into bigger roles. This year we are just kind of using that experience and relying on the leaders of this team.”
The schedule always gets tougher this time of the year. TCU still has road games against No. 4 Texas Tech and No. 24 Oklahoma, as well as another trip to the west coast for a three-game series against California to close out the regular season. The Frogs also have a couple of more metroplex showdowns along the way against Dallas Baptist and UT Arlington.
As the mid-way point of the season approaches, TCU is 19-5 overall with a 14-2 record at Lupton Stadium. The Frogs are showing the college baseball world they are reloaded and ready to make another run to the College World Series.