As has been the case for years now, the TCU baseball team is not slowly wading into the season- they are jumping right in to a heavily front-loaded non-conference schedule that will test this young team right from the get-go. This weekend, the #15 Horned Frogs play host to the #22 Rebels from Ole Miss in what should be a fun series over at Lupton.
The pitching match up for tomorrow night's opener between two highly-regarded sophomores is garnering some national attention from Baseball America. Andrew Mitchell, who went 6-1 with a 2.84 ERA in 22 appearances last year before impressing scouts during his turn with Team USA this summer, takes the hill for the Frogs. Opposing him will be Bobby Wahl, who had a 4.80 ERA for the Rebels last year in 18 appearances- mostly out of the bullpen. Don't let that ERA or his 0-2 collegiate record fool you, though- he really got going in the Cape Cod league last summer when his fastball was reaching 97 and he streamlined his off-speed repertoire.
Mother Nature may have other plans for Friday, though- weather.com is currently listing a 70% chance of rain that evening. That could mess with the planned-upon pitching rotations, which would call for sophomore Stefan Crichton for TCU on Saturday against Ole Miss senior R.J. Hively and freshman Brandon Finnegan (a Fort Worth native) for the Frogs on Sunday against Rebel sophomore Mike Mayers.
The Frogs' batting order will likely rely on the remaining Omaha holdovers, at least in the early part of the season. Corner outfielders Jason Coats and Brance Rivera both returned for their senior seasons and will make up the meat of the order along with junior catcher Josh Elander. On again/off again phenom Kyle Von Tungeln will start in center field this year, and fellow junior Davy Wright is expected to start at third base until Jantzen Witte returns from his off-season injury.
Three newcomers will be in the lineup, headlined by the power-hitting, 6'5" 260lb freshman first baseman Kevin Cron. Keaton Jones, a freshman from Laguna Beach, California, will start at short and hopefully combine on a lot of double plays with San Jacinto JC transfer Josh Gonzales (originally from Pearland), who will be playing second. Senior Zac Jordan and sophomore lefty Brett Johnson are the most likely candidates to DH.
Likewise, the Rebels will be working in some freshmen- mostly in the outfield- into their lineup. They do return their leading hitter from last year, though- junior shortstop Alex Yarbrough, originally from just up the road in Allen, who hit .350 last year with 7 home runs and 38 RBIs. The other main guy to keep an eye on is senior first baseman Matt Snyder, who led the Rebels with 9 home runs last year while batting .301 and driving in 39 runs.
If you can't make it out to Lupton this weekend, there are- as usual- plenty of other options for you to keep up with this series. Chuck Lamendola returns as the underrated play-by-play announcer, and you can hear his call of the game either on 88.7 FM locally or via www.ktcu.net worldwide. In a pinch, you could even call 682-233-6382 to listen to KTCU live on your phone. If you're into the twitter thing, you can usually get good updates from Stefan Stevenson of the Star-Telegram by following @FollowtheFrogs or the offical TCU baseball feed by following @TCU_Baseball. There's also apparently a live video stream on gofrogs.com.
Thanks to our readers for pointing out that there's an awesome new TCU Baseball video for the 2012 season. As always, a great job by our friends at Red Productions: