Last season felt upside-down to TCU baseball coach Jim Schlossnagle.
“What’s unique about this scenario is the three teams that are in Omaha finished seventh, eighth and ninth in the conference last year,” Schlossnagle said.
That’s right. The Big 12 sent three teams to the College World Series, which begins Saturday in Omaha, Neb., and they were the bottom three seeds in last year’s conference tournament. The Horned Frogs were seventh, Texas Tech eighth and Texas was ninth and didn’t qualify.
It’s been a remarkable turnaround for all of the programs and a chest-beating occasion for the Big 12, which is seeking its first NCAA baseball championship since Texas in 2005. The Longhorns reached the final in 2004 and 2009 and also won it in 2002. No other program from the Big 12 era has gotten that far.
Of the Texas trio, Texas Tech probably is the longest shot. The Red Raiders are in Omaha for the first time, winning at Miami in the regionals, then taking a pair of 1-0 victories over College of Charleston in the super regionals. Tech has shut out four of its last five opponents and owns a 0.65 team ERA in the NCAA Tournament.
TCU went 22 innings to beat Sam Houston State in its second tournament game, and had to come back in a rubber game against Pepperdine to win a super regional.
Friday, Schlossnagle announced that right-hander Preston Morrison would start Sunday’s opener against Tech, and lefty Brandon Finnegan, the Royals’ top draft pick and No. 17 overall, would start the Frogs’ second game, on Tuesday.
Texas arrives in Omaha with one of the tournament’s hottest hitters, C.J. Hinojosa. He’s hitting .476, 10 for 21, for the postseason. The Longhorns will face UC Irvine on Saturday, their first non-Texas opponent of the NCAA Tournament.
First-round MLB draft picks in the College World Series