STEPHEN HAWKINS, AP Sports Writer
FORT WORTH, Texas (AP) — Jim Schlossnagle walked alone into the outfield at TCU’s stadium on the night he became the coach 11 years ago and envisioned an NCAA super regional there.
“That thought’s never left my mind,” Schlossnagle said. “It was fun to play the ones we played in on the road, but to be in front of our crowd and play for the right to go to the College World Series is something that I’ve always dreamed of at TCU.”
Scholossnagle’s vision becomes a reality Saturday when TCU (45-15), the No. 7 national seed, hosts Pepperdine in Game 1 of the best-of-three super regional.
The Frogs are playing in their fourth super regional in six years, but their first at home. They went to the College World Series in 2010 after playing a super regional at the University of Texas for the second year in a row.
Pepperdine (42-16) won the 1992 College World Series when coach Steve Rodriguez was an All-American player for the Waves. They are in their first super regional since the NCAA tournament expanded to that format 15 years ago.
The Waves were a No. 3 regional seed that swept through and advanced after beating host and top seed Cal Poly.
TCU was undefeated in its home regional, surviving an 11-inning opener against Siena, then outlasting Sam Houston State in 22 innings before beating the Bearkats again. The Horned Frogs have won 30 of their last 33 games since being 15-12 at the end of March.
“I don’t think we could be more ready for this,” TCU left fielder Boomer White said. “You don’t necessarily want to be playing your best ball in the beginning, but right about now, and we feel like we’re doing that.”
Here are five things to watch at the Fort Worth super regional this weekend:
SPECTACULAR STARTERS: Pepperdine junior left-hander Aaron Brown (12-1, 2.07 ERA) is a two-way player who has homered in four games this season when he was also the winning pitcher, and TCU junior lefty Brandon Finnegan (8-3, 2.07) was the 17th overall pick by Kansas City in the first round of the draft Thursday night. The three Waves starters from last weekend are a combined 29-8 with a 2.33 ERA, while TCU’s scheduled starting trio is a combined 27-9 with a 1.71 ERA.
BOOMER’S BIG BAT: TCU left fielder Boomer White was in a 2-for-27 slump before the NCAA regional. But he went 7 for 20 in the regional with the game-winning RBIs in both extra-inning victories. He also drove in a run in the 6-1 regional clincher.
CATCHING ON: Freshman catcher Aaron Barnett is Pepperdine’s leading hitter with a .373 average and has only 11 strikeouts in 212 at-bats this season.
NOT PILING ON: There was no over-the-top celebration or dog pile when TCU clinched its regional Sunday, just handshakes and hugs. “That’s just kind of imprinted on everybody’s mind that we have bigger plans, and bigger things,” junior infielder Derek Odell said. “So a dog pile’s not really needed yet.”
BEEN THERE BEFORE: Pepperdine and TCU have played only once before, when the Waves won in a tournament at Minneapolis’ Metrodome six years ago. But the Waves practiced at TCU’s Lupton Stadium last year, stopping there to practice on their way to Oklahoma after playing games at Texas A&M and Baylor.