By: Casey Hull
Just a year ago, pitcher Matt Purke was selected 14th overall in the 2009 MLB draft, yet failed to reach an agreement with the Texas Rangers and instead enrolled at TCU. Now a year later, the freshman finds himself and his teammates in Omaha for the first time in TCU program history.
Led by head coach Jim Schlossnagle, the 2010 Horned Frogs posted the best record in school history at 51-12 and earned the Mountain West Conference Championship.
After suffering a gut-wrenching 4-2 loss to Air Force on May 15, the Frogs rebounded with inspiration and won 12 of their last 13 games to get them to Omaha.
For the second straight year, TCU hosted a regional. After sweeping their regional, the Frogs were set to face rival and highly favored Texas, the team that stood between them and Omaha in 2009, in a super regional in Austin. Behind dominant pitching and an explosive offense, the Frogs defeated the Longhorns in the best-of-three series and now look to win the program’s first ever National Championship title.
While no members of the team have ever played this deep into the postseason, they hardly lack veteran experience and talent.
Sophomore outfielder Jason Coats leads the offense hitting .373 and tied for second on the team with catcher Bryan Holaday for home runs with 13. The unit is hitting an impressive .340 as a whole, and each starter is batting above .300. The team broke the single-season team home run record with 92 and also set new program records in team batting average and doubles (173).
On the mound, the Horned Frogs are represented by three Houston natives: Purke (14-0, 3.23), junior Steven Maxwell (11-2, 2.41), and sophomore Kyle Winkler (12-1, 2.84). With a team ERA of 3.46 (7th in the nation), the staff is anchored by senior closer Tyler Lockwood (6-2, 1.97) who has 7 saves on the season.
Coming off a dominating performance, in which he pitched 7.2 innings while surrendering just one run on three hits, while striking out 11 to the lead the no. 2 seeded Frogs to a 3-1 victory in game 1 of the Super Regionals last Friday, Purke is scheduled to take the mound against the seventh seeded Florida St. Seminoles (47-18) in game one of the College World Series Saturday at 1 p.m.
Posting a nation-leading perfect 14-0 record, Purke has earned a number of all-American honors, as well as several Freshman Pitcher of The Year titles. Maxwell also garnered season honors as he was named Mountain West Pitcher of the Year.
With a balanced club and obvious talent on the mound and at the plate, the Horned Frogs and primed for their first ever College World Series Title.
Casey Hull is a freelance writer based in California. She is currently the Copy Editor of The Panther Newspaper for Chapman University and can be contacted by clicking here.