Maybe we should let that settle in.
Since 2000, only six other baseball programs have taken back-to-back-to-back trips to Omaha. Here’s the list:
North Carolina (2006-2009)
Oregon State (2005-2007)
South Carolina (2002-2004, 2010-2012)
Now, it’s important to unpack that list to understand how rare it is for the Horned Frogs to be in Omaha for a third consecutive summer.
First, college baseball favors Goliath, not David. For every UCSB that sneaks into the tournament, there’s a University of Miami making its 25th CWS appearance.
This year’s CWS is the 70th in tournament history. A collection of eight teams* have won almost two-thirds of all tournament titles (44/69).
Of the six teams on the list above, all but Oregon State have at least 10 College World Series appearances. These are some of college baseball’s most storied programs – powerhouses that have excelled for decades.
And then there’s TCU.
Historically, TCU baseball is the new kid on the block. They’re Scotty Smalls in a town dominated by Benny “The Jet” Rodriguez.
The Frogs made it to the College World Series for the first time in program history in 2010. Now it’s becoming a habit.
The program is prominent on the national stage, but coach Jim Schlossnagle is no longer satisfied with just making it to Omaha. This time around he reached out to Ray Tanner, the former South Carolina coach, to make sure he was taking the right approach to the tournament.
Tanner said Schlossnagle was doing it right– keeping his players in their routine, loose and relaxed.
Schlossnagle, TCU baseball’s all-time leader in wins with a 563-252 record, said that many didn’t expect TCU to return to the CWS this year.
But he added that this is tournament baseball, and with tournament baseball you can’t predict anything.
Schlossnagle’s mantra that the most talented team doesn’t always win seems designed to motivate a TCU team with less experience and overall polish than his last two squads that made it to Omaha.
Throw out the season-long stats and analytics. Schlossnagle realizes that it’s all about how his guys are playing at the moment.
“If you start predicting based on…who has been the best team for 14 weeks, you know, it’s not going to turn out that way. It’s just not,” he said earlier this week.
The Frogs may be peaking at the right time. They won the Big 12 Tournament, rolled through Regionals and then bested a more experienced and favored Texas A&M side in the College Station Super Regional.
But the other seven teams in the CWS are just as hot. This is unpredictable tournament baseball. This is why we watch.
Just hours before TCU’s Jared Janczak throws the first pitch, maybe it’s time to take a wider view at what’s happening here. College baseball’s newest royalty are once again knocking on what Schlossnagle calls the “pearly gates.”
The Frogs are getting comfortable in Omaha. Now let’s see what they can do.
* (Arizona, Arizona State, Cal State Fullerton, LSU, Miami, Minnesota, Southern California, Texas)