Baylor coach Steve Smith has seen enough. His verdict is in.
TCU deserves a national seed, according to Smith, whose Bears lost to the Horned Frogs 8-5 in the Big 12 tournament opener on Wednesday at Chickasaw Bricktown Ballpark.
It was the third time TCU has beaten Baylor in the last six days, including taking two of three in Waco.
“TCU is a national seed. We’ve played four times now. I think they do everything really well. They’ve got all the pieces,” Smith said. “It’s not just the objective tangibles you look for in a team, but they’ve got some of the intangibles, too. I just think they’re a national seed.”
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The Horned Frogs (39-15) are hoping to claim their first national seed, which goes to the top eight teams in the country as decided by the NCAA selection committee. TCU likely needs to win the Big 12 tournament to impress the committee enough. The eight national seeds get to host the NCAA Super Regional series if they advance past regionals. No. 2-seeded TCU plays sixth-seeded West Virginia (28-24) at 4 p.m. Thursday.
“They win two-strike counts, whether they’re winning them offensively or they’re winning them on the mound,” Smith said. “That’s really what separates teams, and they’re doing a really good job of that. That’s a really large difference between us and them, but I also think it’s why they’re so good. They’re very good on the mound and at the plate in two-strike situations.”
West Virginia rebounds
West Virginia had been reeling. And the Mountaineers were trailing 8-2 before stunning Kansas with an eight-run seventh to win 10-9 in the morning game that kicked off the Big 12 tournament. WVU lost its last seven games in the regular season, and its postseason résumé was hanging by a thread.
“I think we’re very deserving,” WVU coach Randy Mazey said. “To do what we’ve done with this team, all the travel, the adversity that we’ve grown accustomed to and get used to. It seems like this team has learned how to thrive on adversity. We kind of shine when it’s an uncomfortable situation.”
The Mountaineers have only played 13 true home games this season and 39 on the road while a new stadium is being built.
Mazey was a longtime TCU assistant under coach Jim Schlossnagle before taking the WVU job two years ago.
“Eventually that’s going to fall by the wayside, especially when newer players come through,” Schlossnagle said. “I think we’re beyond all that stuff now. They have a very potent team that’s playing on a lot of emotion. They had a great win [Wednesday]. They’re a team that can get on a roll in a tournament, and we have a lot of respect for them.”
Odell back with No. 5
TCU third baseman Derek Odell wore his regular jersey No. 5 and it didn’t seem to affect his game.
Odell joked last week that he’d consider wearing jersey No. 36 at the Big 12 tournament after he was forced to wear the new number at Baylor because he left his No. 5 in Fort Worth. Odell had two hits, including a double in his first at-bat, and an RBI in Wednesday’s win.