The 2023 season was a roller coaster ride for the TCU baseball team. After a strong start that featured marquee victories over Arkansas, Vanderbilt and Michigan, TCU fell into a serious lull during the month of April, dropping into the bottom half of the Big 12 Conference standings and falling near the .500 mark as the team’s hopes of making the NCAA Tournament slowly began to fade. Sitting at 23-20 on the season, TCU required a serious turnaround over the final month to have any chance of reaching the postseason.
With head coach Kirk Saarloos and his staff tweaking the starting rotation and making substitutions in the field, the Horned Frogs turned the page in May and exploded back onto the scene, becoming one of the hottest programs in college baseball. TCU lost only two games in May, sweeping Baylor while winning two-of-three games against Cal State Fullerton and Kansas State. The Horned Frogs, who also knocked off Texas State in their final nonconference midweek matchup of the regular season, improved to fourth place in the Big 12 standings and secured the No. 4 seed for the conference tournament at Globe Life Field in Arlington, where TCU destroyed the field en route to four straight victories and a conference tournament title. The Horned Frogs outscored opponents 48-15 in the conference tournament and closed the regular season on a six-game winning streak.
The late-season surge enabled TCU to earn a No. 2 seed in the NCAA Fayetteville Regional, where the Horned Frogs needed to defeat No. 3 national seed Arkansas in order to reach the NCAA Super Regional Series. With their offense continuing to fire on all cylinders, the Horned Frogs showed no mercy during the regional tournament, going 3-0 while outpacing opponents 44-13 to secure the championship. TCU outclassed the Razorbacks at their home stadium, outscoring Arkansas 20-5 in the winner’s bracket finals and 12-4 in the title game. The Horned Frogs also dominated their first-round matchup, cruising over Arizona 12-4.
TCU matched up with No. 14 national seed Indiana State in the NCAA Fort Worth Super Regional, which was played at Lupton Stadium earlier this month. TCU showed no signs of slowing down, however, defeating the Sycamores in consecutive outings to win the super regional title and clinch its first berth in the College World Series since 2017. While the offense carried the load during the conference and regional tournaments, it was the pitching and defense that won the day for the Horned Frogs at the super regional, where freshman Kole Klecker and graduate transfer Sam Stoutenborough shined on the mound while several TCU players stood out with defensive gems all across the diamond.
The Horned Frogs concluded their extraordinary second half of the season at the College World Series in Omaha, where TCU went 2-2 over four games and reached the semifinal round before falling 3-2 in a close battle with No. 2 Florida. The Horned Frogs finished with a 44-24 record and a 13-11 record in the Big 12 Conference this season, with the 44 wins being the most for TCU in a season since 2017. The 2023 season also marked the first College World Series appearance for Saarloos, who moves to 82-46 overall in his two years as head coach of the Horned Frogs. TCU concluded the season on a 21-4 run over its last 25 games.
The Horned Frogs will lose two graduate transfers from the 2023 roster including Stoutenborough (California) and right fielder Austin Davis (West Virginia). TCU will have a load of talented freshman pitchers including Klecker as well as Louis Rodriguez, Ben Abeldt, Chase Hoover and Braeden Sloan eligible to return next season. TCU’s freshman core also features catcher Karson Bowen and shortstop Anthony Silva, who each figure to be integral pieces of the team’s lineup for the 2024 campaign. Finally, TCU has a large core of junior players such as Cole Fontenelle, Tre Richardson, Elijah Nunez, Luke Savage, Garrett Wright, Ryan Vanderhei, Cam Brown and Luke Boyers who could return to the squad next year.
The Horned Frogs will likely lose starting third baseman and projected first-round draft prospect Brayden Taylor, who tied TCU’s single-season home runs record with 23 during the 2023 campaign. Taylor has been a cornerstone piece of the Horned Frog offense over the last three years, setting a new career home runs record with 48 and posting a career .315/.442/.595 slash line with 218 hits and 173 RBIs. Transfer portal action has already begun, with TCU securing a commitment from West Virginia left-handed pitcher Ben Hampton. The Horned Frogs will move forward without sophomore first baseman David Bishop, who announced his decision to enter the transfer portal over the weekend. Among the sophomores who could see increased roles next season are outfielder Logan Maxwell and right-handed pitcher Cohen Feser.