Team needs to improve clutch hitting, coach says

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    Horned Frog head baseball coach Jim Schlossnagle is looking for his team to loosen up a little bit heading into a three-game series with Central Florida at Lupton Stadium this weekend. “Our guys are really putting a lot of pressure on themselves to do well, and it’s hard to play baseball when you’re putting pressure on yourself,” Schlossnagle said. “The game puts so much pressure on you anyways.”

    It’s no wonder the Frogs, losers of seven of their last 10 and sitting at 11-12, would be pressing a little bit considering their slow start came after being ranked No. 21 in the nation by Baseball America in the preseason.

    “They want to do well,” Schlossnagle said of his players. “Instead of just letting the game come to them and playing as if they were in little league, we’re trying to hit a six-run homer.”

    The Frogs, who have struggled defensively all season committing 37 errors in 23 games, have been better with the glove in the last two or three weeks but still need to improve, Schlossnagle said.

    But his main concern, he said, is the team’s lack of timely hitting, which proved costly in a 10-4 loss in Waco on Tuesday.

    “We need to swing the bat better with runners in scoring position,” Schlossnagle said. “The other night, we had four runs on 13 hits and Baylor had 10 runs on 10 hits. They took advantage of their base runners a heck of a lot more than we did. That’s our No. 1 area we have to improve.”

    Central Florida comes into Fort Worth at 14-10 and riding a four-game winning streak. The series will be the last for TCU before it begins Mountain West Conference play next week.

    Junior right-handed relief pitcher Dillon Farish, who leads TCU in appearances, said the Frogs will have to stay relaxed against the Golden Knights and try to establish some momentum to carry into MWC action.

    “Going into conference is huge,” Farish said. “This is going to be a big weekend for us. I think it’s going to help us get on a roll because it’s a big weekend next weekend.”

    TCU will send sophomore right-hander Jake Arrieta (4-2, 3.65 ERA) against preseason third-team All-American Tim Bascom (3-1, 1.47 ERA) in tonight’s series opener.

    Schlossnagle said Bascom throws hard and has two good breaking balls, and that the Frogs will have to work to score runs against him. However, Schlossnagle said, he thinks facing such a quality pitcher will actually benefit the Frogs.

    “Central Florida’s got a really good team – got a great pitcher we’re going to see (tonight),” Schlossnagle said. “That’s good news for us, to be honest with you. We usually turn it up a notch against those kind of teams.”

    Sophomore infielder Matt Carpenter said the team looks forward to facing Bascom.

    “It’s always good to face good talent,” Carpenter said. “We’re just going to try to jump ahead of him early and see what we can do at the plate.”

    Junior left-hander Brad Furnish (1-3, 3.08 ERA) will take the hill for the Frogs on Saturday and Sunday’s starter is undecided, Schlossnagle said.

    Carpenter said the Frogs, despite their slow start, still have confidence in themselves and will try to show it this weekend.

    “Our record isn’t who we are,” Carpenter said. “We believe in ourselves, and we believe we’re going to turn this thing around. There’s still a long season ahead of us and we’re pretty excited about it.

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