TCU baseball returned to the diamond last week to begin their six-week stretch of fall workouts, an “exciting time” for head coach Jim Schlossnagle.
“It’s about building the team and teaching without the pressure of having to win or lose games,” Schlossnagle said. “I love it.”
The team is coming off of a 34-28 season that was highlighted by their 14th appearance in the NCAA Regionals in the last 16 years.
Although the team lost a lot of players to the draft and transfers, they returned 13 players and welcomed a top-5 recruiting class, including junior college transfers.
Pitchers Russel Smith and Caleb Sloan, who were out last year due to injuries, as well as outfielder Porter Brown, who was injured during the season, are back and healthy.
Schlossnagle said the returning players all have valuable experience.
“We have eight seniors,” Schlossnagle said. “If you look back on our best teams, the higher the number of seniors on the team that have played in our program, normally the better our season is.”
Senior second baseman Austin Henry said the team is striving to be excellent every day. He said he feels like a veteran this time around.
“My goal, since this is my last year, is to just enjoy it because this is my last year playing college baseball.”
Henry said the 28 practices and fall games give the team a chance to work together and see what everyone can bring to the team.
Senior pitcher Charles King said that one of the biggest things the team had lacked during his tenure was leadership from upperclassmen.
“A strong leadership group helps everyone when you have that type of experience, whether it be two years or four years,” King said. “There is a lot of wisdom that gets passed down.”
King said the veterans on the team help the guys that are younger make the jump to college baseball a lot smoother, which also helps the team as a whole.
During the six weeks of fall practice, the team will take part in two fall games, including a game in Globe Life Park on Oct. 1 against the Texas Rangers Future Camp.
Schlossnagle said the contest was the Rangers’ idea and thinks it’s a great opportunity for the team to play in a major league ballpark.
“It’ll be good exposure for our guys,” Schlossnagle said. “I’m sure there will be a lot of scouts there and the Rangers will be able to heavily scout our guys.”
The players are also excited to get the opportunity to play high-level competition.
“It’s good for us as pitchers because we’re going to get great looks against guys who are fresh out of college or guys who have been playing in the system a bit longer,” King said. “It’s also good for the hitters because they’re facing pitchers that have been pitching for the last five or six months.”
Parking and admission to see the Horned Frogs in Arlington are free.
TCU is also scheduled to play Texas State at 1 p.m. on Oct. 27 at Lupton Stadium. The game is open to the public and free of charge.
Fall practices are open to the public and run Tuesday through Sunday until the first week in November, starting with stretching at 2:30 p.m.