Elander, outfield veterans will lead six new starters in 2012

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    The Horned Frogs could feature six new starters in the opening day lineup, and head coach Jim Schlossnagle said it is hard to know what he will get from the new starters until the season begins.

    “You don’t know what you are going to get from the new players,” he said. “I think this year’s team has a chance to score some runs and do some things offensively, and we have some question marks on the mound, and we have some question marks on the infield because of all the guys we lost at those positions last year.”

    Junior Josh Elander will be the only returning starter to the infield.

    Three of the projected starting infielders have never played an inning of Division I baseball, and the other has only started nine games at TCU.

    Freshman first baseman Kevin Cron, junior transfer second baseman Josh Gonzales and freshman shortstop Keaton Jones are the expected opening day starters who have yet to play a game at TCU.

    Davy Wright, a redshirt junior infielder, will play third base in place of Jantzen Witte, who is recovering from hip surgery. Wright has been unable to nail down a starting job for the Frogs, but Schlossnagle said he is a very versatile player who can fill in anywhere defensively.

    Brett Johnson, a sophomore who played first base and designated hitter last season, is also in the mix. Schlossnagle said he would like to have the left-handed hitter, who could contribute at second base, first base and designated hitter, in the lineup.

    The outfield only has one change from last season, with junior Kyle Von Tungeln taking over for Aaron Schultz, who graduated, in center field.

    Von Tungeln started in center field for the final month of last season, and Schlossnagle said he did “really well” during that period.

    “[He] has played a lot in our program in years past,” he said. “We need him to be a spark plug type player.”

    Seniors Brance Rivera and Jason Coats will return at the corner outfield positions, and Rivera said consistency is the key this season.

    “There’s so many things that could happen in baseball that could hurt you or help you,” he said. “I think the main thing is we just need to consistently play baseball like we know how to play baseball. As long as we just stick to that then we’ll be fine.”