With the Major League Baseball playoffs closing in on the World Series and its final games of the season, the Horned Frog baseball team has quietly been on the field for two weeks in preparation for its 2006 campaign.”We’re almost two weeks into (fall practice), and I think it has gone about as well as we could expect it to,” head coach Jim Schlossnagle said. “We’ve had some new players that have shown themselves to be good ones and make an impact in our program.”
Schlossnagle said the team is focusing on improving an infield defense, more aggressive baserunning and maintaining a solid pitching staff.
“Our team speed is a little bit above average, not much,” Schlossnagle said. “We need to show better instincts on the bases, spout a little bit more pressure on the other team.”
With the departures of 15-game winner Lance Broadway and seven-game winner Tim McGough, TCU will have to rely on some unproven hurlers to be consistent, Schlossnagle said.
Junior left-handed pitcher Brad Furnish said many of the Horned Frogs who take to the mound choose to play in a summer league to maintain arm strength.
“During the summer, we go play summer ball,” Furnish said. “Then we get back and (the coaches) make us take a couple weeks off. Then, we’re on a throwing schedule: three times a week before fall practice and every day in the course of it.”
He said the pitchers are progressing into competition mode quicker than in years past.
“At this point in the year, we have a lot more pitchers throwing strikes than last year at this point and time,” Furnish said. “Of course, there’s a long time before the season starts, but as of right now, we’ve made a lot of improvements which will hopefully turn into a lot more wins on the field.”
Fall practice leads up to the annual Purple and White World Series, a three-game intersquad series that takes place Oct. 26 to Oct. 30.
“We’re friends with all the guys on the team, but it’s real competitive, and your team wants to win,” junior outfielder Keith Conlon said. “We wear different uniforms, and we sit in different dugouts.”
Only seven of the nine teams in the Mountain West Conference participate in baseball; therefore, TCU will play each opponent three times and go to a preseason conference tournament.
“Our expectations are to be an NCAA Regional team and hopefully play well when we get there,” Schlossnagle said.