Feb. 16, 2012
FORT WORTH, Texas – The TCU baseball team will get their season underway Friday night when they host No. 22 Ole Miss for a three game series. Friday night’s contest against the Rebels is set for a 6:30 p.m. first pitch.
• TCU enters the season ranked as high as No. 10 (CB) in the national polls. The Frogs are also ranked No. 11 (USA Today), No. 13 (NCBWA) and No. 15 (BA). • Josh Elander has been tabbed a preseason All-American by numerous publications.
• TCU was picked to win its seventh-straight MW title.
• TCU is 6-2 (5-1 at home) in season-openers under Jim Schlossnagle.
• The Frogs return 13 letterwinners from a year ago and welcome 16 newcomers.
• Jason Coats elected to return for his senior campaign after being a 12th-round draft selection by the Baltimore Orioles.
• Five Horned Frogs were tabbed preseason all-conference (Elander, Coats, Witte, Rivera and Mitchell).
• TCU has won 12 straight series dating back to a 2-1 series loss to Cal State Fullerton Feb. 25-27, 2011.
OLE MISS NOTABLES
• The Rebels are ranked as high as No. 22 by Baseball America to open the season.
• Ole Miss was picked to finish fourth in the SEC Western Division.
• The incoming recruiting class was ranked third nationally by Collegiate Baseball and fifth nationally by Baseball America.
• Ole Miss returns 16 letterwinners from last season’s 30-25 squad.
• The Rebels also return six starters in the field.
• Ole Miss saw a streak of nine straight NCAA Tournament appearances come to an end in 2011.
• The Rebels are 10-1 in season-openers under head coach Mike Bianco.
• This season marks only the second time under Bianco that the Rebels have opened a season away from Oxford (2009).
• TCU and Ole Miss will meet on the diamond for the ninth time on Friday night.
• The Horned Frogs hold a 5-3 advantage in the series.
• TCU and Ole Miss last met in 2009 when the Frogs traveled to Oxford.
• The three-game series was hampered with weather and the Frogs won the lone meeting 19-13 in cold and rainy weather conditions.
• TCU took a 2-1 series victory over No. 2 Ole Miss in 2008, the Rebels last journey to Fort Worth.
HOLES TO FILL
While the bulk of the outfield returns in 2012, the TCU infield will have a new look after three members were lost to graduation and the draft. In total, the Horned Frogs return four regular starters and three others who saw significant time in the field in 2011. Of the nine position players returning in 2012, four were all-conference members (Jason Coats, Brance Rivera, Jantzen Witte and Josh Elander).
TCU returns 59% of its total hits and total runs scored as well as 60% of its total RBIs from 2011. The group combined to hit .319 with 30 home runs and 224 RBIs. Additionally, they racked up 50 stolen bases.
SEEKING INNING EATERS
A once loaded pitching staff was decimated by the draft and graduation as the Horned Frogs said goodbye to six key members of its pitching staff at the conclusion of 2011. The group combined to pitch 396.1 of the 560.1 innings pitched.
Despite the losses, three bright spots emerged in 2011 as then-freshmen Andrew Mitchell, Stefan Crichton and Nick Frey all showed that they could succeed at the collegiate level. Mitchell (6-1, 2.84 ERA) and Crichton (6-3, 1.98) were tabbed Freshmen All-Americans, while Frey was called on late in the season and produced a solid 3.45 ERA in 10 appearances.
TCU will get a lift with the return of Kaleb Merck, who missed the entire 2011 season after undergoing Tommy John surgery. Additionally, redshirt freshman Trey Teakell had an outstanding summer that saw him named as the Hawaiian Summer League’s top pitching prospect by numerous publications.
THE YOUTH MOVEMENT
The Frogs added 16 newcomers to their roster in the fall. The group includes 13 freshmen and three junior college transfers.
Baseball America ranked the group No. 10. Four members of the incoming freshmen class were drafted in Kevin Cron (3rd round), Jerrick Suiter (35th round), Derek Odell (42nd round) and Brandon Finnegan (45th round).
The freshmen class also includes: Travis Evans, Travis Gauntt, Keaton Jones, Braden Mattson, Preston Morrison, Chris Murphy, Michael Resnick, Trevin Sonnier and Pat Vickery. Transferring to TCU were: Kevin Allen, Josh Gonzales and Justin Scharf.
A CHANCE AT THE HISTORY BOOKS
When Jason Coats elected to return to TCU for his senior campaign, the Horned Frog nation breathed a sigh of relief. A constant in the lineup since his arrival on campus in 2009, Coats has the chance to etch his name in the history books as one of the top five offensive players in school history.
The senior needs to play in 56 games to leave as the all-time leader in games played. He is four doubles away from the top spot and 59 hits away from becoming only the second player in school history with 300 career hits. Barring injury, Coats will also rank in the top of five of at-bats, RBIs, triples, home runs and total bases.
As the years go by, one thing has remained constant — TCU’s appearance in the postseason. Since Jim Schlossnagle’s arrival on campus eight years ago, the Frogs have been in an NCAA Regional. The Frogs are in some elite company with eight straight appearances, as only 12 other schools can lay claim to that accomplishment.
Those 13 schools include: Rice, Virginia, Southern Miss, Texas, Arkansas, Oral Roberts, TCU, South Carolina, Florida State, North Carolina, Cal State Fullerton, Arizona State and Miami (Fla.).
Prior to coming to TCU, Jim Schlossnagle guided the UNLV Rebels to the tournament in 2003, giving him nine straight postseason appearances.
HOME SWEET HOME
The Frogs have enjoyed the home cooking of Lupton Stadium since it opened in 2003. TCU has an all-time record of 211-69 (.754) at Lupton Stadium, tallying at least 20 wins in eight of nine seasons.
In 2011, the Frogs boasted a 24-12 record in 36 home games. As a team, TCU outscored its opponents 207-131. The Frogs hit .285 with 74 doubles, 11 triples and 18 home runs at home in 2011.
On the mound, the pitching staff enjoyed the friendly confines to the tune of a 2.84 ERA with two shutouts. The staff fanned 282 batters and held opponents to a .232 batting average against.
NEARING ANOTHER MILESTONE
All Jim Schlossnagle has done since arriving in Fort Worth in 2003 is rack up victories. A veteran coach of 10 seasons, Schlossnagle is nearing a significant coaching milestone. With 425 career victories between his time at TCU and at UNLV, Schlossnagle needs just 25 victories to reach 450 career wins. 348 victories have come during his tenure at TCU, a mark that ranks second all-time in school history. During the Frogs playoff run in 2010, he passed the legendary Frank Windegger who had 298 wins during his career.