Baseball: Ranking high, players’ attitudes modest

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    The TCU baseball team players, while pleased with the respect granted to them by their No. 19 national preseason ranking, said they refuses to allow early recognition to dull their intensity.”You want to be in the top 25 and be considered an elite program,” junior outfielder Austin Adams said. “But to tell the truth, preseason rankings just means what you did last year.”

    Though every team aims to be perceived as top-level, sophomore pitcher Sam Demel said programs on the rise – such as TCU – are easily singled out by opponents.

    “It’s nice to be up in the top 25 because it really shows how our university stands right now,” Demel said. “But I definitely think with how fast the program is coming up, we already have a target on our backs.”

    Although preseason rankings are mainly compiled from the past season’s record, Adams said TCU’s consistent success is moving it up the charts.

    “We’re starting to expect a lot,” Adams said. “In the past few years we’ve been to regionals and moved to a new conference … we have a lot of potential.”

    Head coach Jim Schlossnagle said this year’s roster has a good chance to exceed current expectations.

    “I think the guys we’ve recruited over the past two years want to play at a competitive level,” Schlossnagle said. “Right now we have a real core group of guys that have been here a few years. They’ve been through the rigors of a full season.”

    Demel said regardless of preseason position, every team’s goal is the same: to reach the College World Series.

    “We don’t really care as much about rankings as we do being one of those final eight teams,” Demel said. “Talent-wise, we have a really good shot at making a run … we just need to have lady luck on our side.”

    Moving to the Mountain West Conference will also factor into the team’s upcoming season. Demel said the high elevation at most MWC venues will make things tougher on a TCU rotation that has grown used to pitcher-friendly Lupton Stadium.

    “Balls are going to be flying a lot farther; that’s for sure,” Demel said.

    Adams said he has faith in the coaching staff, which knows the MWC well.

    “I think it will be alright,” Adams said. “He knows the layout of the conference – like who’s good and how to set things up for us.”

    Schlossnagle said his team will be ready come the season’s beginning.

    “I don’t see any reason why we can’t be successful,” Schlossnagle said. “The ranking is a nice bit of respect for the program, but now we have to live up to it.