Hello again, Ole Miss.
TCU opens the NCAA tournament against Mississippi at 12:35 p.m. Friday at Texas A&M’s Blue Bell Park in the College Station Regional. The No. 2-seeded Horned Frogs (36-19) split two games with the third-seeded Rebels (35-24) to open the season at Lupton Stadium in February.
The No. 1-seeded Aggies (42-16) play fourth-seed Dayton (31-28) at 6:35 p.m. Friday. The two winners meet at 6:35 p.m. Saturday; the losers play an elimination game at 12:35 p.m. The championship is at 6:35 p.m. Sunday.
After splitting two games with TCU to open the season, Ole Miss shot out of the gate to a 13-2 record. The Frogs limped out to a 2-6 record with several starters sidelined with injuries. The middle game of that season-opening series was canceled because of rain.
“Ole Miss is a much different team today than they were at the beginning of the season and I think so are we,” TCU coach Jim Schlossnagle said. “Obviously, considering how we played at the [Mountain West] tournament the selection committee still thought pretty highly of us.”
Both teams enter the postseason coming off disappointing 1-2 showings at their conference tournaments. Ole Miss has lost six of its last seven games. The Frogs had been playing well, finishing the regular season winning 21 of their last 25, but lost two of three at the MWC tournament and missed the championship game. TCU is one of 10 teams nationally to earn an NCAA berth the last nine years. The Frogs earned hosting duties the last three years but have to go on the road this time.
“I don’t take it for granted knowing how hard it is to make the NCAA tournament,” said Schlossnagle, who watched the tournament selection show with his players Monday morning. “They pretty much had no reaction. So I don’t know if they’re just taking it for granted, or if they’re just driven. They have an interesting aura about them. I’m looking forward to practice to see what’s going on because there was some serious determination and focus in that room today.”
The winner of the College Station Regional advances to play the winner of the Los Angeles Regional, hosted by No. 2 national seed UCLA. The Bruins host Creighton, San Diego and New Mexico, which won the MWC tournament to earn an automatic bid.
The Frogs are 2-4 against the Aggies under Schlossnagle, including 1-1 the last two seasons. Texas A&M won 4-1 at Lupton Stadium April 24. Last year Andrew Mitchell beat the Aggies 4-2 in College Station.
“I think A&M should have been a national seed,” Schlossnagle said. “They have that kind of team.”
The Frogs have advanced to the Super Regionals to play Texas twice in the last three seasons. Texas failed to make the tournament for the first time since 1998. Last year, injuries to the Frogs’ pitching staff were a major factor in preventing a third trip to the Super Regionals.
“This is what we work all year for, to play well in a regional and hope to advance,” Schlossnagle said. “In the postseason, it’s all about playing well. Who’s going to get the two-out hit? Who’s going to make the big pitch? Who’s going to make the big play on defense?”
College Station Regional
Here’s a look at the four teams competing in the College Station Regional:
1. Texas A&M (42-16) – Aggies maybe deserved a national seed but will have to settle for hosting a regional.
2. TCU (36-19) – Frogs are one of 10 schools to earn NCAA bids the last nine years.
3. Ole Miss (35-24) – Rebels started 13-2 (including 1-1 against TCU) but have lost six of their last seven games.
4. Dayton (31-28) – Flyers are making their first NCAA appearance after winning nine of their last 10 games, and claiming their first Atlantic 10 Conference tournament title.
Stefan Stevenson, 817-390-7760