Much of the pressure is off TCU as it begins the final week of the regular season.
The Horned Frogs, who host UT Arlington at 6:30 p.m. Tuesday at Lupton Stadium, close out the schedule with Texas coming to Fort Worth for a three-game series finale beginning Thursday.
Then the pressure is back on big time. TCU needs to win the double-elimination tournament in Oklahoma City (May 22-26) to earn a trip to its ninth consecutive postseason. The Frogs’ record of 25-25 (and 10-11 in the Big 12), and current ratings percentage index number of 101 is well out of the range for an at-large bid.
But the Frogs have clinched a berth in the Big 12 Conference tournament, something that seemed to be a a no-brainer before the season when TCU was picked to finish near the top of the league. Of course, so was last-place Texas (26-22, 6-15), which is in danger of missing out on the NCAA postseason for the second consecutive season. Texas Tech (23-26, 7-14), which finishes the season at home against Baylor this weekend, hopes to hold off the Longhorns for the last of eight spots in the league tournament. The last- place team stays home.
Even if Tech swept Baylor and Texas swept TCU, the Frogs still have the tiebreaker edge on the Red Raiders because TCU won two of three in Lubbock earlier this season.
TCU is back home after two weeks and is coming off another series win after taking two of three at West Virginia. The Frogs scored a season-high 16 runs Sunday on a season-high 18 hits. The last time the Frogs had an offensive day like that was April 16 at UTA.
“Anybody remotely associated with TCU has been waiting on that for a while,” TCU coach Jim Schlossnagle said with a relieved laugh. Among the many positive offensive signs was a season-high eight doubles and a combined 30 total bases in the game. Paul Hendrix and Kevin Cron both homered. It was Hendrix’s first since April 16 and Cron’s first since April 3.
“Hitting is about confidence so hopefully our guys will build on that,” Schlossnagle said. “I think our guys are confident, maybe as confident as they’ve been since the beginning of the year. We’ll see if our performance reflects that.”
The Mavericks (27-24) have gone 7-8 since the Frogs beat them 11-4 a month ago in Arlington. TCU is 8-5 and has won three of four series since then.
“The last three weeks have been tough,” Schlossnagle said. “We’ve been in every time zone the United States has to offer. I wish we had come out of it with more wins but I think they’re confident, so I’ll take where we are going into this week.”