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Fort Worth Regional Previews: Meet the TCU Horned Frogs

A victory in the Big XII tournament secured a top seed for TCU. How far can they go?

TCU vs. UTA men’s baseball Max Faulkner/Fort Worth Star-Telegram/Tribune News Service via Getty Images

Fort Worth Reginal Previews Part 2 - TCU Horned Frogs

Today we continue our preview of the teams in the Fort Worth regional with the number one seed, the team that Oregon State will definitely have to get through if they want to book a trip to Omaha. The Texas Christian University Horned Frogs.

  • Record: 40-17 (17-7 in Big XII Conference)
  • RPI: 4th
  • Team Hitting: .291 Batting Average (37th overall)
  • Team Pitching: 4.11 Team ERA (46th overall)
  • Best Hitter: Phillip Sikes
  • Best Pitcher: Russell Smith
  • Head Coach: Jim Schlossnagle (18th season, 693-327 overall record)
  • Last Tournament Appearance: 2019 (Eliminated 2-2 in Fayetteville Regional)

In a very tough Bix XII Conference, the Horned Frogs rose to the top, finishing the regular season tied with #2 overall seed Texas at the top of the standings. A run through the Big XII tournament, culminating in a victory over Oklahoma State, ensured that the Frogs would get to host a superregional.

The Horned Frogs a very good team with a lot of strengths, but lets take a look at their pitching to start with. TCU has a few great starters, but the most eye-catching is 6’9” Russell Smith. Smith has a deadly, hard to hit fastball and a pretty good curve. This season he has 93 strikeouts, with a 3.84 ERA and a 1.11 WHIP. He’ll be very hard to hit for any teams that end up facing him.

He’s not the only dangerous starter TCU has. Austin Krob is right in front of him with a 3.74 ERA, and right behind him wit ha 1.40 WHIP. Both pitchers have 7 wins this season. The Frogs also have a stable of good relievers, Haylen Green has racked up 12 saves this season, and River Ridings has a .54 ERA in over 33 innings pitched.

On the hitting side of the team, OF Phillip Sikes leads TCU in most offensive categories. He has a 1.077 OPS, 68 hits, 11 home runs and 129 total bases. He’s not far in front of the rest of the Horned Frogs though, this TCU team has a deep lineup. 4 other hitters; Zach Humphreys, Hunter Wolfe, Brayden Taylor and Gene Wood all have OPS over .900. Taylor has hit 10 home runs, nd he and Humphreys are both over 100 in total bases.

This is a team that can score a lot of runs. They haven’t been shut out in 2021, and have hit 20 runs on a couple of occasions. If you’re going to beat the Horned Frogs, you’re probably going to be doing with them scoring 2 or 3 runs, and 5 or 6 is more likely. They are beatable though.

Its not just top teams like Texas that have given TCU trouble this season, they’ve picked up losses against Louisiana Monroe, Gonzaga and Sam Houston. Solid teams, but not any better than the teams they’ll be facing in the regional. TCU gets beat when the starting pitching tends to stumble, and the relief gets stretched thin. If you can hit on this team early, and not let their bats go crazy, you’ve got a shot.

Its going to be tough for a team like McNeese to do Friday night, but Oregon State and Dallas Baptist could certainly give them trouble.