Blame No. 8 TCU’s three-game losing streak on a College World Series hangover; blame the 2.67 runs per game in those three losses to the newly instituted bats for college baseball 8212; the ones with less ping and more plop 8212; or simply discount the losses as Texas Rangers manager Ron Washington might: “That’s the way baseball go.”
CWS hangover? The Frogs sit at 4-4 and have averaged four runs per game thus far and less than three runs per game during their current losing streak. Through eight games in 2010, the Frogs sat pretty at 7-1, averaging 9.5 runs per game.
At this point last season, the Frogs had also played a three-game series against Cal State Fullerton, but it’s safe to say the Frogs have seen better pitching thus far in 2011, facing a Kansas team that received preseason top-25 votes, a No. 16 Baylor team, seventh-ranked Fullerton as well as a Dallas Baptist squad that defeated the Frogs 8-7 last season.
If there is a CWS hangover for the Frogs, they are the only 2010 team to make it to Omaha who woke up in a haze. Three of the eight 2010 CWS teams are currently undefeated 8212; No. 3 Oklahoma, No. 4 South Carolina and No. 11 Florida State 8212; while three 2010 CWS teams have just one loss on the season: No. 1 Florida, No. 10 Arizona State and No. 12 Clemson. No. 5 UCLA sits at 6-2, but the Frogs are trailing behind the pack at .500.
“We’re still eight games in, nothing to freak out about,” junior shortstop Taylor Featherston said after Tuesday’s loss. “…Oh yeah, [4-4] surprises me. There’s a lot of baseball to play. With the way we’re pitching and playing defense, you’re only gonna hold this offense down for so long. And once we get it all rolling together, it will be fine.”
With a No. 1 preseason ranking for TCU helping drive Lupton Stadium attendance records, head coach Jim Schlossnagle agreed there could be concern about the losing streak getting in the head of players following great expectations.
“…I don’t know what [the players] think about away from the ballpark,” Schlossnagle said. “We don’t ever talk about any kind of expectation. We expected to play well and [to] beat DBU [on Tuesday], but it didn’t happen. I don’t think there’s anybody standing up there thinking about Omaha and [the NCAA Regional] and that kind of thing.
“I just reminded them it’s not going to get any better until you do something about it. If you’re tired of losing, then change. Until then, it’s going to keep happening, no matter how well we pitch.”
What’s certain is that the Frogs need more consistent situational hitting, better small-ball execution and better communication defensively. It would be insane, as Schlossnagle put it, to expect different results by doing the same things over and over again.
Schlossnagle said it was on freshman pitcher Stefan Crichton to know what play was on and how it’s supposed to be run after throwing the ball to second base with no one covering the bag twice Tuesday. Sophomore right fielder Kyle Von Tungeln also recorded two errors 8212; one error was the result of a collision with junior center fielder Aaron Schultz while pursuing a fly ball.
“[It was] Schultz’s ball, there shouldn’t be any miscommunication because Schultz called [Von Tungeln] off,” Schlossnagle said.
As for the newly instituted bats by the NCAA affecting the Frogs?
“We gotta find a way to swing the bat and win,” Schlossnagle said. “Whether we are using these bats or a newspaper we gotta find a way to do it.”
If the bats are affecting the outcomes of games, the effect is at least across the board in college baseball. Schlossnagle noted the players used wood bats in the summer leagues and that the current NCAA regulation bats still swing better than wood bats.
“Baseball’s a weird game. Right now we got a new lineup, we got to figure out what’s going on,” Featherston said. “We’re just trying to do too much. We’re trying to do something we’re not.”
What is certain is the Frogs are trying to do something they haven’t done before following their 2010 run to Omaha. Whether returning to the 2011 CWS is something the Frogs are not capable of can’t be determined by eight games.
But then again, maybe the start of the 2011 season for the Frogs is just how “baseball go.”
Sports editor Ryne Sulier is a senior news-editorial journalism and political science double major from Plano.