TCU closer Riley Ferrell remembers the week in Tulsa, when he blew the first save of his career and the Horned Frogs came home early from the Big 12 tournament, and shakes his head.
“That was rough,” he said. “I’m not sure if we weren’t ready to play, if we had cashed in — I’m not sure.”
But that feeling appears to be long gone for him and the Horned Frogs, who begin play in the Fort Worth Regional against Sacred Heart on Friday night. Ferrell, who holds the school record for saves with 32, said he is ready to go, prepared to pitch to one batter or for a whole game.
“I’m doing whatever I can do to help our team win,” he said. “If it means seven innings, it means seven innings. If it means one pitch, it means one pitch.”
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Ferrell walked three and threw two wild pitches in a 6-5 loss against Baylor in the Big 12 tournament, unable to get a four-out save with a one-run lead.
But TCU coach Jim Schlossnagle said Ferrell “looked like himself” in an intrasquad scrimmage Tuesday.
“There’s an ebb and flow to the season for everybody,” he said. “It just so happened to hit him then. He was money in the bank until that game. I’d rather it happen last week than this week. But there was a lot that happened in that game. We shouldn’t have even been in that situation. We could have scored eight or 10 runs in that game had we had better at-bats at certain times.”
Catcher Evan Skoug said: “It happens to everybody, right? It happens to the best of us. I’d rather have him on the mound in the ninth inning over anyone in the country. I know he’s got it right. I know he’ll be ready for this weekend.”
Ferrell is 1-2 with an 0.67 earned run average and 42 strikeouts in 27 innings. In postseason games, he is 2-0 with two saves, an 0.69 earned run average and 18 strikeouts in 13 innings.
Mitchell Traver, who starts the regional opener for TCU, said he is not necessarily trying to redeem his season since being bumped out of the weekend rotation in April.
“I don’t really look at it that way, because when I go out there and take the mound, my No. 1 goal is to give my team a chance to win,” he said. “So that’s what I’m really looking to do. The goal, obviously, is to win a national championship. As far as me, personally, I don’t think too much about that, just because when I play for my team, to do everything I can to put them in that position, things seem to fall into place.”
The Horned Frogs are 8-4 in starts by Mitchell (7-2, 1.89), a sophomore from Sugar Land. He has 60 strikeouts in 62 innings, but leads the starters in walks per nine innings, 2.8.
Traver did not appear in the postseason last year, playing only in one game during a redshirt year.
Traver said the move to the No. 4 rotation spot was not a big deal.
“It didn’t really affect me at all,” he said. “Just because I’m happy to fill whatever role the team wants me to fill. I started off the season in the Tuesday spot. I didn’t really think I was going to get a shot at the weekend. I was just thankful to get a chance to pitch. Every start matters to me.”
Relaxed Cody Jones
TCU leadoff hitter Cody Jones, who will play in his 10th postseason game Friday, said he used to try to do too much in playoff games.
“The first couple of seasons here, I felt like I was really tense and really trying to do way too much at the plate,” he said. “This season, kind of managed to relax some more. My goal is to be the most calm person on the field. I feel like it’s enabled me to see the ball better and really think about the game a little bit more.”
Jones hit a team-best .376, scored a team-high 48 runs and also led the team in steals with 26 in 31 attempts in winning Big 12 player of the year honors.
In postseason games, he has hit .200 with three doubles, six walks, 15 strikeouts and six walks and gone 4-for-4 on steals.
“Coach Schloss said the other day, no matter where you go, it’s still baseball — a ground ball’s a ground ball; it doesn’t matter where it is, it doesn’t matter how many people are watching, it’s not going to do anything different,” Jones said. “and no matter what kind of stage you’re on, as long as you can get back to playing your game and what you’ve done, everything’s going to work out.”
TCU pitchers Preston Morrison, Riley Ferrell and Alex Young were named Louisville Slugger second-team All-Americans, as named by Collegiate Baseball.
For Morrison, it is his third Louisville Slugger All-American Award, making him the first in TCU history. Ferrell received the honor last season, also.
It’s the second consecutive year, and fourth in all, TCU has had three pitchers honored. Brandon Finnegan was recognized last year.
Carlos Mendez, 817-390-7407