Manager's note: This week, we will be publishing trial posts from our FOW finalists. With over 60 applicants, thanks to those who sent an email. This piece is by ThatGrossGuy; enjoy!
TCU flew through it’s non-conference schedule to open the season, posting an 11-2 record. The Frogs took the series from Arizona State in Tempe, and defeated the past two defending College World Series champions in Vanderbilt (2014) and UCLA (2013). They were the No. 1 team in the country and were riding a three-game winning streak when they started Big 12 play against Baylor.
Since then, Jim Schlossnagle’s squad has gone 7-5 in conference play and now sits at 31-8 at overall. Not a bad spot to be in at this point in the season for a team that lost some of the key pieces from its 2014 College World Series team. But what about dropping two out of three to both Oklahoma State and Kansas State, and falling to fourth in the Big 12 standings? Is that how this season was supposed to go? Most likely not, but the road to another Big 12 Championship might be more attainable than you’d think.
TCU will host a weekend series against Texas, the team sitting right behind the Frogs in the Big 12 standings at 8-7 (21-19 overall). The Longhorns are coming off a series victory against Kansas, but lost five out of the previous six conference games they played. Texas’ Friday starter Parker French has a 2.09 ERA with 38 strikeouts in 60.1 innings pitched. None of the other starting options for the Longhorns have a sub-4.00 ERA.
Following the Texas series, TCU will visit Dallas to take on a sneaky good Dallas Baptist team. The No. 16 Patriots have a 29-8 overall record (10-5 in the Missouri Valley Conference) and have victories over some common opponents as the Frogs. Most importantly, DBU defeated Baylor 17-3 back on March 10, and they had a shutout working with two outs in the top of the 9th. DBU also defeated UTA 9-3, and swept a four-game series from Texas Southern, a team TCU beat 1-0 in Fort Worth in February. Four of the DBU’s starters are hitting above .300, two of which are hitting better than .350 on the season. TCU defeated DBU a few weeks ago at home 6-2, getting eight strong innings from Alexander
Then the Frogs will then have two straight series against Big 12 opponents. First up, TCU will travel to Morgantown to face the 5-7 West Virginia Mountaineers. West Virginia has lost three of their four conference series, and are coming off a losing series to Oklahoma in which they were outscored 17-8 (the majority of those runs came in their 6-5 Saturday victory over the Sooners). One bright spot for the Mountaineers, second baseman Kyle Davis leads the Big 12 with 20 multihit games.
TCU will then host Kansas, the basement team in the Big 12. The Jayhawks are 4-8 in the Big 12, and things do not bode well for their trip to Fort Worth. Kansas is 3-10 on the road, and 3-10 against ranked opponents so far this season. TCU hitters should feast on this Kansas pitching that has a 5.38 team ERA and has allowed 66 runs in 12 conference games. They will also be playing TCU on short rest and recent travel. The Jayhawks will play a two-game series in Evanston, Illinois against Northwestern the Tuesday and Wednesday before their weekend series against the Frogs.
TCU’s final Tuesday game of the season comes against Abilene Christian, a team they beat 4-3 in Abilene on March 6th. The Wildcats have not been off to a great season, as they sit with a 9-28 overall record. They just snapped an eight-game losing streak with a 3-2 victory in 10 innings over Sam Houston State. It looks like another favorable matchup for the Frogs, as ACU’s starting pitchers have an ERA of 5.71 so far this season.
What better way to close out the 2015 regular season campaign than against the (tied for) first place team in the Big 12: Oklahoma. The Sooners sit at a pretty 10-5 conference record, and an even prettier 26-13 overall record. So what’s the deal with this Oklahoma team, should they be considered for a conference championship? Well they do lead the Big 12 in batting average (.294), on-base percentage (.366), and hits (151). This will make for a nice matchup against TCU pitching that leads the nation in ERA and is second nationally in shutouts. For OU, center fielder Craig Aiken and infielder Kolbey Carpenter are hitting .358 and .350 respectively, and have combined for 119 hits, eight home runs, and 50 RBIs on the season. Depending on how the rest of the Big 12 season shakes out, it could be a fun last weekend in Norman.
Things won’t come easy, and there will be some unexpected results as the season grind continues for the Frogs, but things are looking up. The remaining road to a Big 12 Championship is maybe not as dubious as you once thought. It’s also important to remember that TCU did not win the conference regular season last year, they finished second behind Oklahoma State. The key is getting to the Big 12 Championship, and as TCU showed last year, anything can happen from there.