Baseball: TCU a top seed, but draws tough competition

When TCU held a watch party on Memorial Day at Schollmaier Arena, there was good news and alarming news.

The good news was the Horned Frogs earned a No. 6 National Seed, the highest in school history. When it was announced on an ESPN2 broadcast at the Stuart Family Courtside Club, Texas Christian University’s nationally ranked baseball team, which was surrounded by a group of purple clad fans, began clapping and cheering.

Being among the nation’s top eight seeds means TCU players can sleep in their own beds and play at home (Lupton Stadium) all the way to the College World Series if they make it that far. TCU has earned a berth in the College World Series the past three years.

The 2017 College World Series is scheduled begins June 17, and runs through June 27 or June 28 in Omaha, Neb.

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Over the June 2-4 weekend, TCU (42-16 throughout the regular season) is hosting the NCAA Fort Worth Regional. The other three teams in the bracket are Central Connecticut State (36-20), Dallas Baptist (40-19) and Virginia (42-14).

The Fort Worth Regional began today at TCU’s Lupton Stadium and will run through Monday June 5 if necessary. The format is double elimination.

The Frogs take on Central Connecticut State at 8 o’clock tonight. The game will be televised on ESPN3 and live streamed on WatchESPN.

The alarming news is Virginia is in the mix, some who follow college baseball closely say. Experts say that’s where the tournament selection committee missed it by underrating them. Some insiders say Virginia should be among 16 ball clubs within the 64-team bracket hosting a regional tournament this weekend.

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Within the four team tournament, TCU is the No. 1 Seed, Virginia is No. 2, Dallas Baptist is No. 3 and Central Connecticut State is No. 4.

“Virginia has to be the toughest 2-seed in the country, considering they were very close to hosting,” TCU coach Jim Schlossnagle said. “In my mind, they were the 17th team if they would seed the top 16. But to get to Omaha, you’re going to have to beat good teams.”

TCU senior pitcher Brian Howard said the road to Omaha is tough.

“We knew no matter who was in our regional, they were going to be three really good teams.” Howard said. “We’re just excited to get to play baseball again at Lupton this weekend.”

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TCU was 24-7 at Lupton during the 2017 regular season.

Two of those home victories were against Dallas Baptist. TCU played DBU only at home this year. The Horned Frogs edged the DBU Patriots, 3-2, on March 7, and 9-3 on April 11.

Though TCU beat DBU twice at home, Schlossnagle is not underestimating them.

“They’ve played in our park plenty of times, so that’s not going to faze them in any way,” Schlossnagle said. “We’re all very aware of how talented they are and the history they’ve had in their program, being in Super Regionals and regionals all the time.”

The Fort Worth Regional winner will play the winner of the Fayetteville (Arkansas) Regional in the Super Regionals (June 9-12). The four teams in that regional are Arkansas, Missouri State, Oklahoma State and Oral Roberts.

Like the Fort Worth Regional, the Fayetteville regional has three teams 40 wins or more. No. 1 Seed Arkansas, No. 1 No. 2 Seed Missouri State is 40-17 and No. 4 Oral Roberts is 42-14. No. 3 Oklahoma State, which won the Big 12 tournament in Oklahoma City, is 30-25.

“Once you get into this time of year, you’re going to be playing a good team every time you step onto the field,” Howard said.