With a starting lineup full of .300 or better hitters, the TCU Horned Frogs (a definite hall-of-fame team name if I’ve ever heard one) are the #1 seed in the Fort Worth Regional. TCU is on a seven game winning streak, winning the Mountain West Conference Tournament last weekend for the sixth time in seven years. Hosting the Regional looks to be a significant benefit for the Horned Frogs – they have won 23 of their 27 home games thus far this season.
Sophomore pitcher Kyle Winkler will start Friday’s game against #4 Lamar. Winkler, named to the MWC All-Tournament team last weekend, pitched a complete game last Thursday against UNLV. He has pitched over 100 innings this season. TCU has a strong pitching staff, with Matt Purke (12 wins), Steven Maxwell (2.73 ERA), Kaleb Merck (1.12 ERA) and Tyler Lockwood (4 saves.)
TCU only faced one team from their Regional field this season – Baylor, which they split a home and home series with in late April.
No. 2 Baylor
Coming off a 10th inning loss in the Big 12 Championship game to Texas A&M, Baylor has gone 8-2 in their last ten games. They may have finished in the middle of the pack of the Big 12 in the regular season, but have that all important momentum going behind them in the postseason.
Senior Raynor Campbell comes into the Regional with a .350 batting average, 41 RBI, and 7 home runs. The pitching staff seemed a bit up in the air when Baylor coach Steve Smith addressed the media on Thursday. "All I know right now is that (sophomore) Logan Verrett with throw tomorrow," he said, adding that he was concerned with his staff’s overuse in the conference tournament. Although much of the spotlight on the pitching staff has been on senior Willie Kempf, Verrett actually leads the team in ERA, with a 3.09.
Out of the Regional field, Baylor only played TCU this season, splitting an April home and home.
No. 3 Arizona
The Arizona Wildcats are limping into the Regional – they have lost six straight weekend series, and their mere selection to the field was the topic of much discontent during the Monday NCAA selection media call. The Wildcats have a 33-22 record, and finished seventh in the Pac 10. They did win their last game, against Oregon State, on Sunday 3-1.
Arizona is definitely in a rebuilding season, as they have 17 freshmen on their roster, and ten of those players are playing regularly either in the lineup or out of the bullpen. Their top pitcher, Kurt Heyer, is one of those freshmen, with a 3.28 ERA and an All-Conference Team selection. Sophomore Steve Selsky has started every game this season in right field, and was second in the Pac 10 for batting average in the regular season with a .383 (notable considering the strength of the Pac 10.) Selsky led the league this regular season with 85 total hits.
The Wildcats did not face any of the Fort Worth Regional participants this season.
No. 4 Lamar
The Lamar Cardinals hope to continue a five game winning streak at the Fort Worth Regional. Lamar shocked many by winning the Southland Conference Tournament (at Whataburger Field, I might add) last weekend after coming in as a seventh seed. In the championship game, they defeated Texas State 17-7. This will be Lamar’s first Regional appearance since 2004.
The Cardinals (35-24) are led by Matison Smith, a senior who is a mere two wins away from setting the school’s season record for victories (he currently has 10.) Smith has pitched just over 113 innings, and has a 4.54 ERA. Offensively, the team is led by senior Anthony Moore, hit three home runs and 10 hits in 16 at bats in last week’s conference tournament. For that dominant performance, Moore was named the tournament MVP. Lamar coach Jim Gilligan has 1,177 career victories, good for sixth among all active NCAA coaches.
Lamar did not face any Fort Worth Regional teams this season.
Kat Cornetta is a TCBB contributor. In addition to her work here, she covers lacrosse and hockey. Her portfolio and blog can be viewed here.