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NCAA Baseball Tournament: Fort Worth Super Regional Preview

The Horned Frogs will battle #14 Indiana State Sycamores for a spot in Omaha

Indiana State Baseball | @IndStBaseball

On April 30th, TCU Baseball surrendered an 8th inning go-ahead run to the Texas Longhorns. clinching the Frogs’ third consecutive series loss and a 23-20 overall record while falling three games below .500 in the Big 12. TCU had lost eight of its last ten games, floundering near the bottom of the Big 12 and staring at the possibility of missing the postseason. Once the calendar flipped to May, the Horned Frogs’ fortunes flipped as well, winning 17 of its next 19 games while outscoring opponents with an average score of 9.7 to 3.4, sweeping through the Big 12 Tournament and Fayetteville Regional. An impossible notion a month ago is now a reality: Fort Worth’s Lupton Stadium will host a Super Regional.

Although TCU will be hosting the Super Regional, it is not the higher-seeded team. Indiana State also won its conference tournament and swept through the Regional it hosted in Terre Haute as the No. 14-overall seed in the Tournament. Having just hosted the MVC Tournament and the Regional in consecutive weeks, the local resources were already being pushed to the limits. Combined with Indiana Special Olympics events already scheduled for this week in the city, the facilities and personnel would not be sufficient to support the Super Regional as well. This forced Indiana State into a difficult decision to turn down the opportunity to host the Super Regional, sending the event to TCU’s home stadium

Now that the Super Regional field is set, what will the Sycamores be bringing to Fort Worth this week?

Indiana State Sycamores

DraftKings Sportsbook Odds:
CWS Championship Odds: +3000
Game 1 vs. TCU Odds: +115 Underdog

Season Record:

  • Overall: 45-15 (.750)
  • Away Record: 21-7
  • MVC: 24-3 (.889)

Route to Super Regional:

  • MVC Regular Season Champions
  • MVC Tournament Champions: 4-1 record, defeat 4-seed Evansville 6-0 in MVC Final
  • Terre Haute Regional Champions: 3-0 record, defeat 2-seed Iowa 11-8 in Regional Final

At Bat: The Sycamores have a feast or famine offensive profile. Famine: only two players with a batting average over .300 (Adam Pottinger .307 & Keegan Watson .309), only drawing 230 walks for the season (tied for 186th nationally), striking out over 500 times (top-40 most Ks nationally). The feast comes from whenever a pitch is contacted, whether by the body or by the bat: ISU is happy to reach base “the hard way,” getting plunked with pitches 125 times this season, 6th-most nationally; and 35% of all Indiana State hits are extra-base hits, including 72 HRs. The Sycamores deploy their own big bat at Third Base, as Mike Sears leads the squad with 19 dingers and 62 RBI (25 more than 2nd most). All this points to Indiana State’s ability to stack together a big inning to throw crooked numbers onto the scoreboard, as was on display in the Terre Haute Regional when the Sycamores needed big innings late to secure come-from-behind victories.

On the Mound: The Sycamores pitching staff is elite. Full stop. Not “elite for a Missouri Valley team;” this is not a “well, you have to consider the competition” situation. As a team, Indiana State is tied for 4th nationally in ERA, 3rd in WHIP, 14th in strikeout-to-walk ratio, with seven shutouts. The starting rotation is built for these postseason three game series, boasting a stable of three ace-level starters in Connor Fenlong, Lane Miller, and Matt Jachec. Fenlong has 4 complete game shutouts this season and went 8 innings with 8 Ks and 4 earned runs in the Regional Game 2 win over Iowa. Jachec is the strikeout king, with an insane 97-14 K-BB rate, a 6.93 ratio that puts him in the top 10 nationally. Miller has no losses in 11 starts this season and is the ERA leader, ranking top 35 nationally at 2.77 with a batting average against of just .219. The Bullpen is also deep for Indiana State, led by Cameron Holycross’ sub-2.0 ERA and Closer Jared Spencer who has 50 Ks in just 36.2 innings pitched. The Sycamores also sport one of the best defenses behind this pitching staff; with only 32 errors on the season, Indiana State has the nation’s 3rd-best fielding percentage at .0983. In pitcher-friendly Lupton, don’t expect the same offensive explosion from the Frogs that was on display in Fayetteville.

Fort Worth Super Regional Schedule

Game 1: Friday June 9, 4:00 PM Central, ESPNU/ESPN+
Game 2: Saturday June 10, 5:00 PM Central, ESPNU/ESPN+
Game 3 (if necessary): Sunday June 11, TBD, TBD

Fort Worth Super Regional Tickets