TCU baseball undergoes changes, but is backed by consistency

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Photo courtesy of TCU 360 archive.

Photo courtesy of TCU 360 archive.

There have been some changes for the TCU baseball team coming into its first season in the Big 12 Conference, but the attitude going into the season stays consistent.

Selflessness, playing with energy and being committed to excellence are the three “core covenants” head coach Jim Schlossnagle said is part of every day as a Horned Frog baseball player.

“I’d rather it just be consistent throughout every year,” he said. “So 10 years from now, if you ask a former TCU baseball player, ‘Hey, what’s it like to be in the program?’, he can tell you exactly what that is.”

About half of the roster is a returning player, while the other half consists of freshmen and junior college transfer players. Of these returning players, three are seniors that were on the 2010 College World Series team.

These three seniors, Jantzen Witte, Davy Wright and Al Ralston, along with pitchers Andrew Mitchell and Stefan Crichton, and an experienced sophomore group, serve as the leaders on the team, Schlossnagle said. These leaders can serve as role models to help guide the new players on the team.

Coming into the Big 12, Schlossnagle said games will be more challenging because the depth of pitching is stronger than it was in the Mountain West Conference.

One advantage to being in the Big 12 is more bus trips for the team, rather than flights. Additionally, TCU and opponents’ fans can travel to games more easily, making for a different environment than most games last year.

Going into the Big 12 also means playing West Virginia, where former TCU associate head coach Randy Mazey is now the head coach. Schlossnagle said he does not like to play close friends.

“If West Virginia wasn’t in our conference, we wouldn’t play them," Schlossnagle said. "But they are, so we don’t have a choice.”

In order to be competitive in the new conference, Schlossnagle said the infield needed to be one of the stronger infields he has had. The infield is set to include returning players Witte, Keaton Jones, Derek Odell and Kevin Cron.

Usually an infielder, junior Brett Johnson started preparing over the summer to move to the outfield, Schlossnagle said. Johnson has improved the most on offense and defense coming into this season, working on playing right field and hitting in the offensive first position.

The 2013 baseball season is scheduled to start on Feb. 15 at Ole Miss. The home opener is scheduled for Feb. 22 at 6:30 p.m. against Cal State Fullerton.

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