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TCU baseball players await the news that they are headed down to College Station for the NCAA Tournament (Frogs Today/Jamie Plunkett).

 

By Jamie Plunkett
Frogs Today staff writer

 

FORT WORTH — TCU baseball has learned its destination for the NCAA Tournament. The Frogs are headed to the College Station regional, hosted by No. 1 seed (No. 5 national seed) Texas A&M, and will be joined by No. 3  seed Louisiana and fourth-seeded Oral Roberts.

“I was excited for our guys,” TCU coach Kirk Saarloos said after the announcement. “Obviously, we’d love to be hosting, but that didn’t happen. .. The biggest thing for me is that it’s 2 1/2 hours away, so our fans don’t have to hop on a plane. They can just get in their car and come down and watch.”

The Frogs will have an opportunity to face off against former coach Jim Schlossnagle, who led the Horned Frogs to five College World Series appearances in his 18 seasons in Fort Worth. He led the Aggies to a 37-18 record, including a 19-11 record in the SEC, in his first year.

“It’s awesome,” right-hander Marcelo Perez said. “Playoff baseball is totally different. It doesn’t matter what you did during the season. Everyone starts 0-0. It doesn’t matter what your ERA is, what your batting average is, so we’re excited.”

Louisiana is a solid third seed, entering the tournament with a 32-13 record. The Ragin Cajuns are coming off a Sun Belt Conference tournament championship, where they scored two runs in the top of the ninth to defeat regional host Georgia Southern 7-6. Oral Roberts rounds out the College Station regional with a 38-18 record, fresh off a Summit League tournament championship.

TCU is the first Big 12 regular-season champion in the 64-team tournament era not to host a regional. Mark Ethridge of D1 Baseball listed TCU alongside Notre Dame, LSU and Oklahoma as his four biggest hosting snubs of the tournament. Ehtridge noted that TCU’s exclusion sets a precedent for sending power-five regular-season champions on the road.

It seems, though, as if TCU’s low RPI did them in. Their RPI (a calculation centered on a team’s win percentage, their opponent’s win percentage and the opponent’s opponent’s win percentage) sits at 36, and usually a host has an RPI inside the top 25. That being said, there is a precedent — UCLA won the Pac-12 regular season title in 2011 and hosted a regional despite their RPI of 34.

The Frogs still had a chance to host, despite their low RPI, heading into the Phillips 66 Big 12 tournament. Their 1-2 record and being eliminated by Oklahoma State on Friday night, didn’t do them any favors. Instead, Texas and Oklahoma State will represent the Big 12 as hosts, while the two teams holding trophies — TCU and tournament champion Oklahoma — will hit the road.

Meanwhile, Florida, a team that finished with a .500 record in the SEC and seventh in the conference during the regular season, has been named a host.

Ultimately, it doesn’t seem like the Big 12 — the third best RPI conference in the nation — received the amount of respect from the selection committee it probably deserved.

Jamie Plunkett

Just a Frog fan covering TCU Athletics.