The baseball team heads to Houston today to begin play for this year’s Houston College Classic.The Horned Frogs play Tulane at noon today then have games against Houston on Saturday and Rice on Sunday. All three matches will be played at Minute Maid Park, the home of the Houston Astros.
Head coach Jim Schlossnagle said the other teams at the series are as good as it gets.
“It’s as high of level of college baseball as can be played,” Schlossnagle said.
Aside from TCU, which is ranked No. 21, the six-team field includes three other nationally ranked teams: No. 2 Rice, No. 7 Texas and No. 12 Tulane.
Sophomore pitcher Sam Demel said the team is excited to play such a talented field.
“It’s going to be amazing,” Demel said. “It’s one of the best preseason tournaments in the nation. It’s going to be a fun weekend.”
Demel, who will start today’s game against the Green Wave, said he is not worried about Minute Maid’s dangerous Crawford Boxes, an area that is frequently targeted by line-drive home runs.
“Come on, they can’t get it to the Crawford Boxes,” Demel said with a smile. “I’ll be throwing a little sinker. They’ll be a lot of ground balls, let’s put it that way.”
Schlossnagle said playing in a different park may affect the defense more than the pitching staff.
“We’re not there every day,” Schlossnagle said. “We’ll play it straight up, let the chips fall where they may. It will be more of an adjustment for the defense.”
Sophomore catcher Andrew Walker said since the team will have time to practice at the field before today’s game, he is not overly concerned about the challenges presented by playing at the unfamiliar ballpark.
“We’re going to be there (Thursday night),” Walker said. “I don’t think it will be that big of a deal. The infielders will take a lot of ground balls, the outfielders will do some reads.”
Schlossnagle said regardless of the tournament’s outcome, the exposure of playing in a series of national scale is important.
“You have to be seen,” Schlossnagle said.
Demel said the competitive field will help the team assess its talent.
“It’s going to show us where we’re at,” Demel said. “It’s going to be real informative.