TCU set to play Oklahoma in first Big 12 road weekend series

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    After getting a win in a big-league ballpark Tuesday night, the TCU baseball team is headed north to Norman, Okla., Friday.

    In his 10 years in Fort Worth, head coach Jim Schlossnagle has never taken TCU into Norman to play the University of Oklahoma Sooners in a weekend series. The last time the Frogs and Sooners played each other over a weekend was under the guidance of Lance Brown in 1996, the last year of the Southwest Conference.

    Schlossnagle said playing at Rangers Ballpark in Arlington helped with the team’s mental game and for them to block out the environment. He said players got to practice blocking things happening outside of the game and that the practice can come from playing on the road at Oklahoma, playing in a Super Regional or playing in the College World Series.

    “We just have to play well and can’t worry about all that other stuff. The reason [Oklahoma] has been so tough to beat is because they’ve been so good, and we haven’t played our best baseball up there,” Schlossnagle said. “They have really, really good starting pitching, so do we, so I’m sure they’ll all be good ballgames.”

    Sophomore shortstop Keaton Jones, who has reached base safely in 14 straight games, said being in the Big 12 Conference brings with it more competition, but he thinks TCU is up to the challenge.

    “I think we’re just as good as a ball club and we should do well,” he said.

    Jones and freshman left hander Alex Young said the team needed to work on execution. Jones said they need to “[stick] to [the] game plan and [play] like we play.”

    Young got his first save in Tuesday’s game against the UT Arlington Mavericks. Young said he was not expecting to go in, but got the call in the eighth inning and found himself on the Rangers’ mound.

    Schlossnagle said Young is not necessarily becoming the new closer, but could get called from the bullpen if the matchup calls for him. He said the pitching toward the end of games could come from Young, fellow freshman righty Riley Ferrell, or other right-handed pitchers – 2011 All-American Stefan Crichton, senior Justin Scharf or junior Nick Frey.

    “We’re just going to use the best available pitcher at this time,” Schlossnagle said.

    Schlsosnagle said the starting pitchers for each day – sophomore right hander Preston Morrison, sophomore lefty Brandon Finnegan and junior righty Andrew Mitchell – will set the tone for the game. Schlossnagle said, “Momentum is the next day’s starting pitcher.”

    “If you get a good start, and your starting pitcher throws better than the other guy, that’s momentum,” he said. “If he doesn’t, then it’s not. Sometimes we make more of it than it is. It’s really just playing good baseball.”

    Schlossnagle said even though the team has a 9-11 record, he feels good about his team.

    “They never come to practice not wanting to be here,” he said. “They’re always here. They’re always getting extra work in, and so eventually that’ll pay off. And if it doesn’t, then it wasn’t meant to be.”

    The weekend series will be the 90th time the two teams have met. Oklahoma has a 62-37 lead in the series. TCU swept the Tuesday home-and-home series last year, with a 4-3 win in Fort Worth and a 1-0 win in Norman.

    Under Schlossnagle, the Frogs are 3-8 playing at Oklahoma. The weekend will mark their third road series and the first Big 12 road contest of the season.

    Sunday will see Mitchell take the mound as a starter for the first time this season against lefty Adam Choplick. Mitchell has started 26 times in his career as a Frog. Morrison, Friday’s starter, ranks second in the Big 12 with a 0.96 ERA. He is set to face Oklahoma’s right-hander Jonathan Gray. Brandon Finnegan will start in Saturday’s game against the lefty Sooner Dillon Overton.

    The Frogs' pitching staff ranks fifth in the Big 12 with a 3.05 ERA.

    Oklahoma, which has a seven-game win streak, is the only Big 12 team ranked in the top-25 of all four major polls.

    Sooner infielder Matt Oberste is the Big 12’s top hitter with a .500 average in 23 games. The Sooner defense, though, has 31 errors on the year.

    This weekend will mark TCU’s second series against a Big 12 opponent. The first series against a Big 12 team was March 15-17 against the Kansas Jayhawks. This will be Oklahoma’s first conference series of the year.

    When: Friday at 2 p.m.

    Where: L. Dale Mitchell Park, Norman, Okla.

    TV: FOX Sports Southwest (FSSW)

    Radio: KTCU 88.7 FM, FrogVision

     

    When: Saturday, 2 p.m.

    Where: L. Dale Mitchell Park, Norman, Okla.

    TV: FOX Sports Southwest Plus (FSSW+)

    Radio; KTCU 88.7 FM, FrogVision

     

    When: Saturday, 2 p.m.

    Where: L. Dale Mitchell Park, Norman, Okla.

    TV: FOX Sports Southwest Plus (FSSW+)

    Radio; KTCU 88.7 FM, FrogVision

    Gametracker will be available for all games.