FORT WORTH — The semester is over for TCU students, so the classroom sessions the baseball team is attending now will not require a test.
The biggest test for them remains on the baseball field, where the conference tournament begins next week.
“Well they've played really, really good baseball for an extended period of time, which is tough to do at any level of baseball, but especially college baseball where we don't play every day,” said TCU head coach Jim Schlossnagle. “There are more opportunities for things to go wrong when you have days off and you give college athletes free time.”
TCU has a remarkable turnaround in recent weeks. At one time, they had a 13-game winning streak. They've moved into the top 10 at No. 9 in Collegiate Baseball's poll. They attribute it to a player’s-only meeting.
“We kind of ran it - ran the show for that night,” said TCU pitcher Brandon Finnegan. “It lasted about an hour-and-a-half and after that, everything just clicked with our pitching staff [...] dominating people.”
Finnegan has an 8-2 record with 1.66 ERA this year. His coach said the team's success on the mound has been about more than just a talk.
“You have to have good pitchers to do that,” Schlossnagle said. “A bunch of bad pitchers can have a meeting all they want, but they're still going to be bad pitchers. We have good pitchers that needed to pitch a little bit better or at a different level. I think Brandon [Finnegan] and Preston [Morrison] did a good job with that -- at least from what I hear, I wasn't there. I've only seen the results.”
TCU pitchers have recorded 13 shutouts this season. That ties a Big 12 record with four games left in the regular season.
“We really just talked about what we needed to do to get where we wanted to be,” Finnegan said. “After that meeting, it kind of just hit with all of us. We called that pitchers' meeting and said some stuff that kind of sank in with everyone and just got on a roll.”
The Horned Frogs have won 21 of their last 23 games and are one game out of first in the Big 12 with one weekend left in the regular season.
“I just think everything is starting to click,” said TCU first baseman Kevin Cron said. “The thing about baseball, you don't always have to be the best team, you've just have to play the best. Our pitching staff has been unbelievable. As long as we can get a couple of runs, everything is going to be OK.”
Hosting an NCAA regional and earning a national seed are both real possibilities if they can close out the regular season strong in Waco this weekend.