NCAA Baseball

NCAA baseball Fort Worth Regional preview


With Oregon State traveling to the Forth Worth (Texas) Regional as part of the NCAA baseball tournament this weekend, The Oregonian/OregonLive previews the four teams competing at Charlie and Marie Lupton Baseball Stadium.

TCU HORNED FROGS

Record: 40-17, 17-7 in the Big 12 (tied for first).

Coach: Jim Schlossnagle, 18th season, 703-344.

Top hitters: Brayden Taylor (.316 batting average, 10 home runs, 50 RBI, 50 runs), Zach Humphreys (.324 batting average, six home runs, 39 RBI, 58 runs), Phillip Sikes (.337 batting average, 11 home runs, 60 RBI, 55 runs), Hunter Wolfe (.321 batting average, six home runs, 50 RBI, 17 doubles).

Top pitchers: Russell Smith (7-3, 3.84 ERA, 14 starts, 77.1 innings, 93 strikeouts), Austin Krob (7-1, 3.74 ERA, 15 starts, 77 innings, 83 strikeouts), Haylen Green (1-2, 3.21 ERA, .97 WHIP, 47.2 innings, 12 saves).

What to know:

This season marks the 15th time in the last 17 NCAA Tournaments that TCU has secured a bid in a regional. Entering the postseason, the Horned Frogs are tabbed as the No. 6 overall team in the field and will be hosting the Fort Worth Regional this weekend.

Reaching a high level of success is nothing new for Schlossnagle, who is the winningest coach in the program’s history. The Horned Frogs are just one of five teams to host a regional eight times in the last 12 years.

Schlossnagle, 50, also led the Horned Frogs to the College World Series in four consecutive seasons from 2014-17.

TCU is rolling again this season, and the Horned Frogs have the potential to make another run to Omaha. From late March to early May, TCU racked up 22 wins and just three losses. The Horned Frogs then closed out the regular season with a 3-6 record.

But Schlossnagle seems to have his club back on track as the Horned Frogs went 4-1 in the Big 12 tournament to earn a conference title and build momentum heading into what they hope to be a deep NCAA Tournament run.

Oregon State baseball vs. BYU

Oregon State starter Kevin Abel (23) walks with catcher Troy Claunch during the Beavers’ home-opening baseball game against BYU on Thursday, March 4, 2021, at Goss Stadium in Corvallis. Leon Neuschwander for The Oregonian/OregonLiveLeon Neuschwander for The Oregonian/OregonLive

OREGON STATE BEAVERS

Record: 34-22, 16-14 in the Pac-12 (fifth).

Coach: Mitch Canham, second season, 39-31.

Top hitters: Wade Meckler (.331 batting average, four home runs, 20 runs scored), Troy Claunch (.321 batting average, four home runs, 27 RBI), Andy Armstrong (.297 batting average, 37 runs scored, 26 RBI).

Top pitchers: Kevin Abel (3-4, 3.42 ERA, 15 games started, 79 innings, 106 strikeouts), Cooper Hjerpe (3-6, 3.75 ERA, 15 games started, 72 innings, 87 strikeouts), Will Frisch (3-0, 2.17 ERA, 54 innings), Jake Mulholland (2-2, 3.07 ERA, 29.1 innings, 13 saves).

What to know:

In his first full season as head coach, Canham has helped lead Oregon State to its 20th NCAA Tournament appearance in program history.

Since he took the job in 2019, Canham has been faced with the difficult task of following Pat Casey, who won more than 900 games and three national championships in 24 years at Oregon State.

Canham’s first campaign was cut short in 2020, but the Beavers have bounced back this season with the program’s fourth consecutive NCAA Tournament berth. The Beavers haven’t played at their customarily dominant form, finishing just better than .500 in the Pac-12 schedule, but they did enough to get the nod as a No. 2 seed in Fort Worth.

A majority of the season was riddled with inconsistencies. The Beavers got off to a 10-1 start before losing three of their next four games. They followed it up with a seven game-winning streak before dropping five of six games. Oregon State lost its last three conference series and dropped eight of its last 11 games to finish the season.

But now, Oregon State will now make its second postseason trip to Fort Worth in the last 15 years. In 2009, Oregon State lost to TCU twice and failed to advance to a super regional.

The Beavers will attempt to reverse their fortunes this season as TCU again stands in the way of hopes of a super regional appearance and potential visit to Omaha.

DALLAS BAPTIST PATRIOTS

Record: 37-15, 18-6 in the Missouri Valley Conference (first).

Coach: Dan Heefner, 14th season, 512-268.

Top hitters: Jackson Glenn (.364 batting average, 19 home runs, 58 runs, 49 RBI, 13 stolen bases), River Town (.337 batting average, nine home runs, 54 runs, 47 RBI, 20 stolen bases), Jace Grady (.362 batting average, 17 doubles, 45 runs, 15 stolen bases), Cole Moore (.331 batting average, 10 home runs, 44 RBI).

Top pitchers: Dominic Hamel (12-2, 3.71 ERA, 14 starts, 80 innings, 123 strikeouts), Rhett Kouba (6-1, 2.21 ERA, eight starts, 61 innings, 76 strikeouts), Peyton Sherlin (0-1, 3.00 ERA, 33 innings, three saves).

What to know:

Dallas Baptist continued its impressive streak of NCAA Tournament berths, making the postseason field for the seventh consecutive season.

The matchup between Dallas Baptist and Oregon State brings a stark contrast between the two skippers. While Canham is making his first appearance with Oregon State in the NCAA Tournament, Dallas Baptist’s Heefner has had plenty of experience in postseason play.

Heefner has molded the gold standard for mid-major programs at Dallas Baptist. Despite having an enrollment of just over 5,000, the Patriots have become a juggernaut in the Missouri Valley Conference. Entering this season, seven players coached by Heefner have reached the major leagues.

But the Patriots haven’t been able to break through to a super regional during the string of NCAA Tournament appearances, with their last super regional appearance coming back in 2011.

Because they aren’t in a Power Five conference, Dallas Baptist doesn’t regularly see the level of talent that teams like TCU and Oregon State compete with on a weekly basis. They did, however, take three of four games in the regular season against Top 25-ranked Indiana State and prevailed over No. 25 Oklahoma earlier in the year.

The Patriots swept the Missouri Valley Conference tournament, tallying a 4-0 record and defeating Indiana State twice more. Dallas Baptist’s blend of power and speed could give them a chance to break through to a coveted super regional.

McNEESE STATE COWBOYS

Record: 32-28, 21-18 Southland Conference (seventh).

Coach: Justin Hill, eighth season, 232-192.

Top hitters: Clayton Rasbeary (.360 batting average, 12 home runs, 43 RBI, seven stolen bases), Payton Harden (.327 batting average, 56 runs, 15 stolen bases), Nate Fisbeck (.301 average, nine home runs, 17 doubles, 61 RBI).

Top pitchers: Will Dion (9-4, 2.82 ERA, 15 starts, five complete games, 92.2 innings, 113 strikeouts), Jonathan Ellison (5-3, 3.06 ERA, 13 starts, 70.2 innings), Cameron Foster (1-3, 3.77 ERA, 43 innings, six saves).

What to know:

When McNeese State coach Justin Hill took over the program in 2014, the Cowboys had only recorded one winning record in their previous seven seasons. But in his first season, Hill, a former player at LSU and Mississippi Delta, helped turn a 23-31 record into a 30-28 mark. They haven’t finished a season below the .500 mark since Hill was hired.

McNeese State has continued its growth in the following seasons. In 2017, the Cowboys finished first in the Southland Conference standings and Hill was named the league’s Coach of the Year. Then in 2019, the team made its first NCAA Tournament appearance since 2003.

There were moments this season when McNeese State struggled mightily. In late April, the Cowboys lost seven games in a row. Then they lost five of six in early May.

But the Cowboys found their stride later in May, winning seven of their last nine regular-season games. McNeese State battled through the Southland Conference tournament, cruising through its first three games with a margin of 33-4 before toppling Sam Houston State to seize a tournament title.

Fifteen players on McNeese State’s current roster were a part of the 2019 regional team that lost both games by just one run. That experience figures to be crucial as McNeese State attempts to shock powerhouse TCU in the regional opener.

FORT WORTH REGIONAL SCHEDULE

(All times Pacific; double elimination; x-if necessary)

Friday, June 4

Game 1: No. 2 Oregon State (34-22) vs. No. 3 Dallas Baptist (37-15), 11 a.m. (ESPN3)

Game 2: No. 1 TCU (40-17) vs. No. 4 McNeese State (32-28), 4 p.m. (ESPN3)

Saturday, June 5

Game 3: Game 1 loser vs. Game 2 loser, 10 a.m.

Game 4: Game 1 winner vs. Game 2 winner, 4 p.m.

Sunday, June 6

Game 5: Game 3 winner vs. Game 4 loser, 11 a.m.

Game 6: Game 4 winner vs. Game 5 winner, 4 p.m.

Monday, June 7

x-Game 7: Game 4 winner vs. Game 5 winner, 1 p.m.

— Tyler Tachman

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