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New season, new beginning for Horned Frog baseball

With a forgettable 2013 season behind them, the Horned Frog baseball team looks to return to its winning ways.

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Sophomore catcher Boomer White swinging his bat during the Frogs' 2-1 win over UTA last season. White had a team-high .314 average last season in addition to one home run and 27 RBIs. (Photo courtesy of GoFrogs.com)

Sophomore catcher Boomer White swinging his bat during the Frogs' 2-1 win over UTA last season. White had a team-high .314 average last season in addition to one home run and 27 RBIs. (Photo courtesy of GoFrogs.com)

The time left before the start of the 2014 TCU baseball season is ticking away, and the Horned Frogs hope to avoid a repeat of last year's woes. 

Coming off their first season in the Big 12 Conference which resulted in a 29-28 record, their worst since 2002, the team looks to return to the level of play that made them a powerhouse for so many years.

This season will see Jim Schlossnagle return for his 11th season as head coach of the Horned Frog baseball team. Last year's struggles aside, Schlossnagle has enjoyed widespread success during his tenure in Fort Worth. 

He currently holds an all-time TCU baseball record of 417 wins in a 10-year period as head coach and led the team all the way to Omaha, Neb., for the College World Series in 2010. 

With all of this experience under his belt, Schlossnagle hopes to make the Horned Frogs a serious contender in the Big 12.

"We need to improve in every phase," Schlossnagle said. "We pitched really well last season and that has been the hallmark of our program for the last 10 years, but we need to play better defense, we need to score more runs, and be a more aggressive base running team."

2014 will also see the return of several key offensive players, including junior first baseman Kevin Cron and sophomore outfielder Boomer White

Cron, a 6'5" junior from Phoenix, Ariz., led the team with seven home runs in 2013. White, a senior from Houston, led the team in batting average last season, hitting .314, with one home run and 27 RBIs. 

Along with Cron and White, junior pitcher Brandon Finnegan's performance will be critical to the team's success this season. The left-handed Fort Worth native led the team with 86 strikeouts last season and was named to the 2013 USA Baseball Collegiate National Team.

"Brandon has matured every year he's been here," Schlossnagle said. "We're looking for him to have a good season. He has the pure stuff to beat anybody on any given day, but he needs to be a guy who doesn't beat himself by putting guys on base or pitching from behind in the count."

Nevertheless, the team has seen its fair share of changes during the offseason. 
With 16 freshman on the team this season, a large percentage of the players will be entering their first season with the program.

"Every year, even though you return some players, every team has its own identity," Schlossnagle said. "I'm really looking forward to finding out the identity of this team."

This year will also mark Bill Mosiello's first season as associate head coach and Zach Etheredge's first as volunteer assistant for the team. 

With more than 25 years of experience in the field, Mosiello has worked with some of baseball's biggest names such as Mike Trout and Robinson Cano and was on the Tennessee Volunteers' coaching staff when they won back to back SEC titles in 1993 and 1994. 

Etheredge, on the other hand, had spent the past two years as volunteer assistant for the University of California—Santa Barbara baseball team.

"Bill and Zach are great additions to this year's coaching staff," Schlossnagle said. "Mo is certainly one of more elite baseball guys in the country, who is knowledgeable in all phases of the game, certainly on the offensive side, which is what we're looking for. Zach brings something that we haven't had really ever in terms of a guy coaching the catchers that caught. That's one of the most under-coached positions in college baseball."

According to Collegiate Baseball's Fabulous 40 NCAA Division-I preseason poll, the Horned Frogs enter the season ranked 19th in the nation, but the team will have to play against some of the premier college teams in the nation as all Big 12 schools do. 

Notable match-ups on the schedule include a three-game road trip to Stillwater, Oklahoma, in which the Horned Frogs will take on the No. 18 Oklahoma State Cowboys from Marh 28 through 30, and then again in mid-April when the team travels down to Austin to take on the No. 20 Texas Longhorns.

"I think the rankings are more a statement about a program than they are about any particular team, especially considering last year we had the worst season since I've been the coach here, and a lot of the team is back," Schlossnagle said. "It is what it is. As long as you don't read to much into it, at the end of the day you still have to go play the games."

The Horned Frogs kick off their season against the Jacksonville University Dolphins on Feb. 14. 

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