Most of us are still recovering from just the third losing season that TCU Football has experienced under Gary Patterson, but just because things didn’t go our way in that sport, doesn’t mean that there weren’t some amazing moments around TCU Athletics. We share a few of our favorites below.
Melissa: Luken Baker Bombs all Over the Postseason
He was as hyped as they come, a real-life legend in our midst. Standing 6’5” and weighing in at 265 pounds - as a true freshman - the big blondie seemed too good to be true on paper. But his aww shucks personality and down-home humility hid an absolute monster on the diamond, and once he found his groove, he became unstoppable.
I was fortunate to attend a ton of TCU Baseball games in 2016, including a vast majority of the postseason contests. As such, I was witness to one of the most impressive displays of power ever witnessed at the collegiate level. What Baker did when it mattered most was the stuff of legends, and with each towering home run at a pinnacle moment the story of the Baker Bombs lengthened. It started with a 5-5 night against Baylor in the opening game of the Big 12 Tournament, where he smacked his first playoff home run and notched three RBIs. His five runs batted in against Texas, including the go-ahead, three run home run, sent the Frogs to the conference championship game - and he would lock up MOP honors by lifting one out of the ballpark in the 10th inning to beat WVU. In the Fort Worth Regional it was more of the same, 5-10 as the Frogs swept. Against A&M in the Supers he launched another as TCU took the all-important opening game, and he continued his hot streak in Omaha, dumping Tech with a ninth inning three-run blast. He hit his 11th dinger a game later against CCU, capping one of the most amazing seasons at the plate for a freshman in recent memory.
The bar won’t be any lower for Baker in his sophomore campaign, even though every team will know exactly who they are facing each time he steps to the plate. With a full offseason under his belt and the burden of pitching removed, Luken and co will have championship expectations, and a #1 preseason ranking to live up to. Somehow I know he won’t be afraid of this moment, either.
Deanna: Micah Ahern Makes the Trip to Omaha
Baseball was fun this year, in so many ways. From TCU Baseball’s success and trip to the College World Series after beating A&M at Regionals (again), to covering the Frogs in the Pros and watching Jake Arrieta and the Cubs win the World Series, baseball gave us some amazing memories this year. But there were 2 angels who especially made my year as a Horned Frog: Rylan and Micah. I don’t even have to say their full names; they’re as infamous as Trevone, Jake, Andy...and a plethora of other famed Horned Frog athletes. But these two became Horned Frog Heroes at ages 6 and 7. They fought battles that no one should ever go through, all while supporting their favorite TCU teams. Rylan showed off his dance moves between cancer treatments and trials, and Micah fought so hard to make it through TCU Baseball’s postseason. My favorite sports moment of the year was this photo:
There are so many ups and downs in sports. There are talented teams and struggling teams, big teams and small teams, teams with the right attitude and teams with the wrong attitude...but at the end of the day, Rylan and Micah reminded us that the Horned Frog tradition is full of courage, honor, determination, and family. We Never Ever Give Up, we Never Stop Dancing, and we’ll never forget our angels in the outfield.
Hawk: TCU blows out the #CAB Blackout
It was the last act of rebellion from a staff and fanbase that had built a cult around an individual who had enabled and forgiven truly deplorable acts, and in many ways, it felt like the last gasp of the “New Era of Baylor football”. McLane stadium, which two years ago had been the site of a game like no other in series history (and with a finish that will resound as one of the great robberies in sports history), was packed once again with fans either dressed in black or green, depending on whether they were more inclined to support Briles or Baylor. The Baylor team had insisted in dressing in black, despite the administration’s desire that they wear green, and they took the field with all of their goals still ahead of them- a Big 12 championship, revenge on the team that had ended their offensive idol’s regular season career with an overtime defeat, perhaps even a shot at the national championship if the chips fell just right. TCU was coming off of a rare (at the time) blowout loss to West Virginia and had been upset at home by a Texas Tech team that hadn’t managed even the barest semblance of a defense all season- and Kenny Hill was coming off a benching in that same Tech game. Baylor seemed primed to make a statement, and as the Bears got off to another fast start by way of a 22 second touchdown drive, the emotions were riding high that maybe the on-field success of the Briles era could continue for at least one more season… Then TCU scored 31 straight points, driving down the field with ease with a well balanced game plan and fantastic defensive effort, and the packed and formerly rocking McLane stadium were forced to watch helplessly as TCU ripped the heart of the 2016 Baylor Bear team out - a heart that they wouldn’t recover for the remainder of the regular season. The black-clad fans were headed for the exits en masse in the third quarter, and many of them wouldn’t set foot in McLane stadium for the rest of the season. For a nation of college football fans who had watched the Baylor saga unfold, and feeling intensely dissatisfied with the reaction of Baylor’s Board of Regents to remove Briles, but leave the remainder of the coaching staff (at least a few of whom were anonymously implicated in Baylor’s published “findings of fact”) intact in the hopes of pulling off one more great season, it was immensely cathartic to see the Bears disassembled both at home and on a national stage on the day of their “#CAB” protest. Winning at college football is one of the best feelings in college football, and I can understand the lengths that some programs will go to keep winning: Paying players (SMU, Ole Miss), hiring the high school coaches of highly touted recruits (Michigan, etc.), but the soul of a university is always its students - and when you turn your back on their well being in pursuit of greater on-field success, you are selling your soul for football glory. TCU ripped out Baylor’s heart, but in driving those black clad fans from the stadium en masse, they may just have given Baylor a chance to reclaim its soul.
Sam: Remember the Alamo Bowl
No, I still haven’t forgotten the Alamo Bowl. In fact, the scene with the colorful balloons and confetti falling is still my desktop, has been all year, partly because 1) I’ve been too busy/lazy to change it and 2) every time I see it, it just brings back so many emotions. Nobody could’ve predicted the Alamo Bowl’s fairytale finish. Who would've thought the star quarterback, who had kept a clean image throughout his career, would get busted in a bar fight? Who would've thought the talented team would trail by 31 at halftime? Who would've thought the backup quarterback, who had recently lost his father, would lead the team to victory? Seriously, who would've thought? I'm still waiting on that movie, Disney. And I've got some great ideas.
Chris: Durbin Feltman ends Aggies’ season in College Station
TCU’s baseball team this past year was very talented, but had had numerous ups and downs throughout the course of the season. After getting through the Big 12 Tournament and bringing home the championship trophy, the Frogs earned the right to host a regional, but their bracket was paired up with the Texas A&M bracket for what would become a rematch of the super regional the year before, which the Frogs won. TCU managed to roll through their regional and headed down for the best-of-three series with the Aggies. After splitting the first two games, Brian Howard pitched exceptionally well through the first 7 innings of game three. TCU then helped him out by taking a 4-1 lead during the 7th, thanks in large part to an error by Boomer White (did you know he went to TCU?). In the 8th inning, true freshman closer Durbin Feltman came into the game and would carry the Frogs from there. In the final at-bat, he struck out Michael Barash and then treated the Aggie fans to a beautiful thumbs down seen here:
Best part of his pic is the fans realizing the thumbs down!!!— Paul Arebalo (@PaulArebalo) June 13, 2016
Aggies giged pic.twitter.com/fH5VwKJPYX
Beating the Aggies in College Station and the way Durbin Feltman ended it was definitely my favorite TCU Athletics moment of 2016.
Do you have a favorite memory from the past year in Frog Athletics? Share it below in the comments!