Now that we’ve all collected ourselves (mostly) from Monday’s Game 7, what was your biggest takeaway from the Fort Worth Regional?
Melissa: I think the thing I am still thinking about after last weekend is that A) this is a team with some holes. B) despite those holes, this is a team that is NEVER out of it. C) this is a team with a ton of depth on offense, defense, and of course up and down the pitching staff. While I am still very concerned about Riley and Alex Young, seeing what Traver and Guillory did, among others, is encouraging. We will need those two to get right to accomplish our ultimate goal - but there are a lot of guys capable of stepping up in big spots. The motto they adopted of "No end in sight" is pretty dead on.
Travis: All season I have been talking about the resilience that this team shows in tough situations. Almost every time where we have gotten down big in runs they have fought their way back and given themselves a chance to win the game. After they got rocked by Texas Tech and exited the Big XII tournament in underwhelming fashion, I did start to have doubts about whether or not this team still had that same fight in them. I’d have to say the biggest takeaway I had from this weekend is that I am no longer worried about the size of the fight in our Frogs. The other thing that really stood out to me is that our pitching depth appears to be even stronger than I had previously thought. To be able to play five games in 4 days and never run out of quality pitching was just incredible.
Mason: If you are going to beat the Frogs in a game with everything on the line...you have to do so all the way to the bottom of the 9th (or in some cases the 22nd). I was one of many who put their heads down when the score was 8-1 going into the 8th. I was watching the game in California, and to my dismay the bar that I was at changed the game to the UCLA v. Maryland game, so I missed watching the 6 run comeback live. However, I was able to see the 10th inning frog pile on my phone. We had to win 3 games in 2 days, and we did that in epic fashion. So all doubts about this team’s heart should be gone. To reiterate; Yes we are a team that can be beat, but if you want to beat us, you have to do it all 9 innings.
What intrigues you most about the TCU - Texas A&M matchup?
Melissa: I am really interested to see what a team that got off to a 24-0 start and was one of the best in what is supposedly the best conference in the country does against a team that trounced a "weak" Big 12 but stumbled in the tourney. Everyone keeps talking about how bad the Big 12 was, and how that makes TCU vulnerable. But that’s forgetting the gauntlet the Frogs went through in the pre-season - winning a series on the road against ASU and knocking off UCLA and Vandy. A&M also has some big bats in the lineup, much like NC State, but went quiet facing Cal’s pitching staff. The Golden Bears have nowhere near the arms that the Frogs do, so TCU should have a big advantage there. Plus… it’s two Texas teams that don’t get to play in much of anything anymore, there’s the #TicketGate controversy, and the fact we are in the Big 12 because they left. Shuld be fun!
Travis: What is there not to like about this matchup? A&M leaving the Big XII opened up the door for TCU to move into the league. So, not only is there the always exciting Big XII vs SEC component, there is also the chance to prove that the Big XII is better off with TCU than it was with the Aggies. Put that together with the fact that TCU and A&M are long-standing, in-state rivals and you’ve got passion and excitement from the fan bases that will arguably make this the biggest baseball series ever played at Lupton.
Mason: This matchup is currently dividing my family. Numerous members of my family are fighting farmers, one of them being my father, so the household will be divided this series. I am most excited to see the bats of A&M go up against our rotation on the mound. The journeys that each team took to get to this point is also intriguing to look at. TCU came in with the highest expectations, the desire to return to Omaha, and take the top spot behind a loaded pitching roster. Whereas A&M did not start out with the highest of rankings, came out of the gates swinging and started white-hot, but suffered a handful of defeats near the final stretch of the season. Both had to battle past teams they had lost to early in their respective regionals in order to advance to the super. I’m also excited to count the number of times that the announcers mention that Boomer White was a former Frog. His heroics in the 22 inning game have been missed, but I won’t shed a tear if his new team goes 0-2.
What was the Cal-Berkeley pitching staff able to do so effectively in three games during the College Station regional that kept the potent Aggie offense to just 1, 4, and 3 runs, respectively?
Melissa: I didn’t get to watch either, but from what I can tell, the Aggies are as likely to hit it out of the park as they are to miss it completely. The Cal pitchers threw a lot of strikes, and the Aggies weren’t always able to connect with consistency. For TCU, pounding the zone, making plays on defense, and getting that first out of the inning will be huge. That seems to have been the formula for the boys from Berkeley.
Travis: I have to admit that I didn’t get to watch any of these games on TV and I don’t know a lot about Cal’s pitching staff because I haven’t had a chance to watch them either. What really surprised me about the series is that Cal’s pitching staff did not have a lot of strikeouts in any of the games and A&M stranded a lot of runners throughout the three games between these two teams. I have to think that a lot of it had to do with the fact that these two teams went into extra innings in two of these game and A&M, like TCU, had to play 5 games in 4 days. Really though, they almost played 6 when you count the extra 5 innings Saturday and the extra 3 on Sunday. Maybe A&M was just worn out.
Mason: I was only able to see some of these games on my phone, but it is important to keep in mind that 2 of these games went into extra innings, 14 and 12 innings respectively. The fact that Cal’s pitching hung around with A&M’s hitting, holding them to 1 run for 14 innings is impressive. The 12 inning game where TAMU won on a tag out at home was still an impressive feat by Cal, and they might’ve been able to comeback and win that game had it not been for the poor judgement of the runner. I think that our pitching staff is deeper than Cal’s, so if we have to go into extra innings, then I think we can wear down A&M’s defense while ours stays intact. I’d also make the argument that we might be the toughest opponent (next to LSU) that A&M has played all year, so it’s interesting to take a look at how the Tigers fared against A&M as well. LSU won 2 out of 3 games, with scores of 4-3 and 9-6.
Will the TCU staff take the same approach in the Super Regional?
Melissa: I am so intrigued to see what happens as far as the rotation goes. I am leaning towards Morrison, followed by Alexander, … and then - if needed -… do you go Traver (who was amazing against a lesser team) or Young (who has struggled in the last few games but has a history of post-season success)? I think Traver would be the long relief guy in game one or two if something goes wrong, which might eliminate him from a starter’s spot. But then again, Guillory was so great last weekend, and Teakell is the freshest of the bunch (and Schloss has said repeatedly that he is a guy that’s much better on long rest). I think P-Mo has to get the ball game one against A&M’s aces, because getting that first win is so crucial, and he’s our guy.
Travis: I don’t think we’re going to change much of anything. This team has a plan for what they need to do to win and for the most part it has been working for them. We need to get good pitching, be patient at the plate and be aggressive on the base paths. If it ain’t broken don’t fix it.
Mason: The only thing that I want to see change is the performance by our closers. I want to see La Flama Blanca of February make a return. This could be an overreaction to a series of unfortunate coincidences, but this series is the ticket to Omaha, and we cannot afford to slip up. This is against your hometown team Riley, I know you won’t disappoint..
Which TCU player do you think will have the biggest impact this weekend?
Melissa: Derek Odell and Evan Skoug were the two stars of the Regionals, and I am hopeful they will continue their outstanding play on offense and defense. But I am going to say it’s CoJo with the breakout performance - he wasn’t bad by any stretch last weekend, but he wasn’t as explosive as we have seen him. I think he has a HUGE series on offense and the basepaths. I also expect a big bounce-back performance from College Station native Riley Ferrell, but Travis has more on that, so I won’t steal his thunder ;)
Travis: I’m going to say that good or bad, the player that has the biggest impact this weekend will be Riley Ferrell. I’ll go even further though and say that I think Ferrell has a big impact this weekend in a positive way. Ferrell grew up in College Station and rooted for Aggie baseball his whole life before he became the Horned Frog that we all know and love. Ferrell said this week that ever since he came to TCU he has wished that he had the opportunity to pitch against his childhood team. Now he has that chance, and I think that he will be ready for it.
Mason: Cody Mane of a Stallion Jones. No Question. When Cody gets in a good hitting rhythm (a la Texas series) he’s so fun to watch and is capable of some serious damage. I never doubt his ability in the outfield, but i’m excited to see him make plays on both offense and defense. When Cody plays well, the team tends to play better overall so I’m looking to Cody to show his prowess as a leader and as a playmaker. I can’t forget to mention the other senior named Jones. I will be looking to Keaton to make several big plays on offense during this series, and a couple of double plays to help us get out of some tough innings.
Finally, what are your predictions for the weekend series?
Melissa: I think TCU takes game one in front of a really fired up, and a little pissed off, home crowd - something like 3-1, with Preston going 7 innings of one run, three hit ball. Teakell gets three up, three down, before Riley comes out and strikes out the side for the save. Game two goes to extra innings, and maybe the Aggies steal one in the 11th off of a couple of timely hits after both offense stagnate through the first nine; 2-1 Aggies. Game three is all Frogs - with Mitchell Traver and Alex Young playing big roles in a 8-3 TCU win. I would much prefer we handle business on Sunday, but it’s hard to imagine this series doesn’t go the distance.
Travis: It’s a shame that we only get to play a best of three. After this weekend I would love it if we could just play a best of five against everyone. With pitching depth like ours the longer we play the better chance we have to win it. In all seriousness though, I think that this series will go to three games just based on the fact that A&M is a very talented offensive team. I would be very surprised if their offensive output did not surpass what they were able to manage against Cal. Still, TCU has only lost three games at home this entire season. I just don’t see us losing two this weekend. Prediction: Frogs in three.
Mason: After the miracle at Lupton (30 for 30 anyone?) there is a fire under our bellies, with the addition of playing an in-state rival, we ride the momentum and emotions to a victory in game one. If our pitching stumbles then our offense is going to have to come up big if we are to match A&M’s hitting. Game 2 in a do or die situation for the Aggies, I’m calling a close game where A&M starts out with the lead, but Schloss says it’s time to put the final nail in the coffin, the Woo birds get loud, and Frogs escape with the win in game 2. I think game 2 will be close enough to put some of us in cardiac arrest, so a surprise blowout would be appreciated. Frogs in 2.
Share with us your prediction for the Fort Worth Super Regional. It should be a great series this weekend, and we're looking forward to seeing everyone out at Lupton!