It doesn’t exactly feel like it yet, but since its 0-6 start, TCU has been playing winning baseball. The Horned Frogs, 5-3 since that season-opening skid, have yet to see their offense truly break out with an onslaught of hits and runs, but slowly and surely the club’s big sticks are starting to make some noise.Kevin Cron came through with game-tying hits in clutch situations in the past two games and Jerrick Suiter raised his average 28 points to .125 with two hits and an RBI over the weekend. Derek Odell was taken out of the starting lineup for Sunday’s game after opening the series 0 for 7 with three strikeouts, but he worked a pinch-hit walk late in Sunday’s win over Pacific.TCU coach Jim Schlossnagle isn’t ready to rejoice the return of run-scoring; after all, the Frogs have managed only 12 runs in their last four games, including a Tuesday loss to Arkansas-Pine Bluff, since winning 13-0 at Jacksonville on March 3. But he’s hopeful those three key components of his lineup are working their way out of three-week funks as Big 12 play approaches.The lone bat in TCU’s lineup that has remained steady through the Frogs’ tough start belongs to senior third baseman and Arlington Martin graduate Jantzen Witte. He leads the team in almost every offensive category, including a .400 batting average, eight extra-base hits and 12 RBIs. To show how solid he has been, and coincidentally, how the opposite has been true for most of his teammates, Witte has a third of the Frogs’ 24 extra-base hits.“Your marquee players have to carry you at some point during the season,” Schlossnagle said. “Who knows where we’d be without him right now. We, obviously, aren’t anywhere close to where we want to be but Jantzen’s best work has been away from the field by leading in our locker room. He’s as good of a leader, especially by example, as we have had during my 10 years at TCU ... simply a very, very special person.”But with Cron, Suiter and maybe Odell seemingly on the brink of snapping their struggling spells, the burden of carrying the offense may not be Witte’s alone for long. The Frogs (5-9) host Northwestern State (9-8) for two games at 6:30 p.m. Tuesday and 2 p.m. Wednesday at Lupton Stadium. TCU right-hander Trey Teakell will make his first start of the season Tuesday. He hasn’t allowed an earned run in six innings out of the bullpen. Right-hander Stefan Crichton, who has struggled in three appearances, including two starts this season, is a candidate to start Wednesday’s game.TCU opens Big 12 Conference play with a three-game series against Kansas (10-5), beginning at 6:30 p.m. Friday at Lupton Stadium.
Stefan Stevenson 817-390-7760 Twitter: @FollowtheFrogs