Frogs, Schlossnagle prepare for another leap in schedule strength

In a nonconference series against a lesser opponent, No. 3 TCU met expectations with a breezy weekend sweep.

The Horned Frogs outscored Murray State 37-10, batted .357 with four home runs, walked 22 times, stole seven bases and posted a 2.52 earned-run average with 29 strikeouts.

The Racers of the Ohio Valley Conference filled a need in the schedule — every Big 12 team has two non-conference openings during the 10-week league calendar because only nine schools play baseball.

TCU coach Jim Schlossnagle likes tough schedules, but he wasn’t apologizing for the three-game tuneup.

“With the schedule we’ve played, I think we’ve earned the right,” he said. “There’s a lot of schools that play these kinds of games early in the season. But these guys can really hit if you get behind in the count. They out-hit us Saturday. If you get behind in the count and have to throw a fastball in the middle of the plate, they don’t miss it.”

Indeed, Murray State came and left with eight .300 hitters and scored first in Games 1 and Game 3.

But schedule strength will soon toughen for the Frogs (26-5), who take a 12-game winning streak into Tuesday night’s game at Dallas Baptist with senior right-hander Mitchell Traver (1-0, 1.59) starting against freshman right-hander MD Johnson (0-1, 5.48).

After that come five significant Big 12 series — at West Virginia, home against Baylor, at Texas Tech, home against Texas and at Oklahoma — in a five-week stretch that will position TCU’s postseason road.

Schlossnagle called that a good thing.

“We did a little ‘state of the union’ at the midway point with our team about where we were and the things we were doing well and the things we needed to get better at,” Schlossnagle said. “Part of that talk was about what lies ahead of us and how strong our league is and what a great advantage it is in terms of RPIs. There’s a lot of opportunities out there for us, but we’re going to have to play well to take advantage of it.”

TCU is ninth in RPI heading into the game against Dallas Baptist, which is 69th. The Frogs’ next three Big 12 opponents are No. 17 in RPI (West Virginia), No. 10 (Baylor) and No. 4 (Texas Tech). The regular season ends for TCU with a series at Cal, No. 68.

The Frogs took heart from the past weekend, which made them 14-1 since returning from a 1-3 week against UC Irvine and Long Beach State. In the 12-game win streak, they are hitting .306 with a 2.10 ERA.

“We continue to mention the California trip,” said right fielder Austen Wade, who was five for five in the series finale against Murray State and leads TCU in hitting. “Coming back from that, we knew we had to make adjustments offensively. I feel like offensively, we made a jump this weekend. Guys are putting together really good at-bats and having a plan. We’re still trying to put together that complete game. When it happens, it’s going to be a lot of fun.”

Carlos Mendez: 817-390-7760, @calexmendez

No. 3 TCU at Dallas Baptist

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