Editor’s note: This is the seventh article in a nine-part series previewing Big 12 baseball in 2014 and examining what each of the nine conference teams who participate in the sport brings to the diamond this season. As a reminder, we are previewing the teams in ascending order in their predicted order of finish.
3. TCU Horned Frogs
2013 season record: 29-28 overall; 12-12 in the Big 12, tied for 8th
The Horned Frogs came into the Big 12 last season having won seven straight Mountain West Conference championships and an equal number of NCAA Tournament appearances. Head coach Jim Schlossnagle’s crew found out very quickly that the Big 12 is not the Mountain West.
Despite a very good pitching staff with a collective ERA of 2.78 a year ago, TCU failed to generate enough runs and scoring opportunities to support its strong pitching effort.
“We’ve talked about about it as a team, and it’s over with,” Schlossnagel said, in an interview with the Ft. Worth Star-Telegram, referring to his team’s lackluster season in 2013.
The TCU starting lineup averaged just 4.3 runs per game in 2013. Schlossnagel believes that his team will be more productive on the offensive side this season, led by returning sophoimore outfielder Boomer White, a .314 hitter a year ago. White had 17 mulit-hit games last season and was named to the Big 12 All-Freshman Team.
The Horned Frogs also return center-fielder and lead-off hitter Cody Jones, who played in all 57 games last season and scored a team-high 43 runs.
Pitching remains TCU’s strength in 2014. Returning are the Horned Frogs’ best two starters: right-hander Preston Morrison and left-handed hurler Brandon Finnegan. Morrison was 7-3 with a 1.51 ERA in 13 starts last season. Finnegan finished with a record of 0-8 as a starter despite having a decent 3.81 ERA in 15 starts and 79.1 innings. Right-handed relief pitcher Alex Young is the big gun coming out of the bullpen. He had five saves and a 2.66 ERA in 22 relief appearances in 2013.
TCU is ranked 23rd in the latest USA Today/ESPN college baseball top-25 poll. The Horned Frogs are off to a great start in 2014 with a 6-1 record through games of Sunday.
Next up: No. 2 Kansas State