Heading into the first home series of the season at 4-3, head baseball coach Jim Schlossnagle said the team has learned it can’t take anything for granted.”We’ve beat some good teams and we’ve lost to some just OK teams,” he said. “We’re not in the position to take anybody lightly.”
The Frogs will have to put that attitude to the test as they welcome the Wright State Raiders (1-1) to Lupton Stadium for a three-game series beginning Friday.
The Raiders, a Horizon League team from Ohio, may not be as sharp as some of TCU’s recent Southern opponents, but Schlossnagle said TCU will go into the games with the Raiders like they would against any team.
“Every opportunity we go on the field, no matter who we’re playing, is a chance to get better,” he said. “That’s really the way we look at it regardless of the opponent.”
The coach said the Frogs need to become more consistent defensively and will continue to audition pitchers in their search for the top eight or nine who will carry the bulk of the load on the mound this season.
“If you pitch well, you get to pitch more. If you don’t pitch well, then you go to the end of the line and somebody else gets a chance,” Schlossnagle said. “We’ve seen some guys improve, and we’ve seen some guys begin to develop some roles, but we still need two or three guys.”
Left-hander Omar Arif (0-0, 2.70 ERA) and right-hander Dillon Farish (0-0, 4.15 ERA), both juniors, have emerged as solid performers out of the bullpen, Schlossnagle said, and once sophomore lefty Zach Ashwood (0-1, 0.00 ERA) reaches his potential, the Frogs could have a “special staff.”
Sophomore right-hander Jake Arrieta (2-0, 1.59 ERA), who will take the hill for game two of the series Saturday, has been one of the keys for the Frogs early in the season.
“I feel confident in just about all my pitches,” Arrieta said. “I feel I’m a long way from where I want to be, but we’re pretty happy how we’re doing as a team right now. But the more that I improve, the better our team will do in the future.”
The offense, after managing only three runs in consecutive losses against Texas State and Arkansas last week, exploded for 22 runs on 31 hits in back-to-back wins over Texas-Pan American and Stephen F. Austin heading into this weekend’s series.
But Schlossnagle said the team swung the bat well even when it struggled to score runs.
“I can promise you in the game on Sunday in which we scored 13, we didn’t hit very many balls hard,” he said. “The balls we put in play just happened to have eyes or fall in, and that’s the way the game of baseball works sometimes.”
Junior utility player Chad Huffman said the team did hit a lot of balls hard in its losses, but that didn’t make the loss to Texas State in TCU’s home-opener any less disappointing.
“We didn’t play great, we didn’t play bad,” he said. “We kind of learned the lesson of, you always got to come out ready to play no matter what. You never know what run is going to win the game.