We here at STL reached out to the kind folks over at TCU's SBN Community, Frogs O'War, for a little question and answer session prior to our College World Series matchup. Check out Marshall Weber's answers to my questions, and our very own Will Campbell answered their questions...so give it a gander.
STL: Where does this team fall on the exceeding, matching, or falling below (would be hard to see that...) the preseason expectations?
FOW: Definitely exceeding. The expectations are always high the preseason, Baseball America and places like that are always really kind to us in the Pre-Season polls. But after last season, if you told me in February that we'd end up in the College World Series...I don't think I would've believed you.
But now that we're here, at least for me, just "being there" isn't enough. Our Cinderella moment happened in 2010. We had a great CWS before being eliminated by a really great UCLA squad. But I think we're much better this year. We were a National seed for a reason, so I think the expectation now is for us to win it all.
STL: What's it like having not only an in-state team in your half of the bracket, but another on the other side? Any feeling of state pride on the line?
FOW: It's pretty great. I know TCU fans were really pulling for all the Big 12 teams in Regionals and Supers. So to have 3 teams make it is pretty great. But with all the Big 12 teams being from Texas, there's some definitely some state pride on the line. Opening up with Tech was a great showcase for the Big 12 and the possibility of playing Texas for a National Championship is really intriguing. These teams also finished at the bottom the conference last year, so for all them to not only improve, much less make the CWS, is pretty incredible.
The Texas team that comes out of Omaha with the most impressive resume will get to hang their head high for a while though and you definitely want to be that team.
STL: For Wahoo fans, what is one name to look out for if we match up?
FOW: Boomer White has now had 3 game winning hits for us in the post season. But as far as under the radar goes, I'm going to have to Dylan Fitzgerald, our right fielder. The kid can rake. I'd also throw out Keaton Jones, our shortstop. He's as good defensively as I've seen at the college level, but he's also been great at the plate as of late. Something he's not really known for.
STL: What will be the biggest challenge you see in facing Virginia?
FOW: Y'all have just been so damn consistent. We're still on a great stride, but the way we're pulling out wins and playing games close to the chest, makes you wonder if the steam will run out. Virginia has had this all year and proven themselves worthy each game. Virginia, like us, pitches so well. We're both in the Top-5 in ERA, have comparable batting averages, and RPGs. These are as even as two teams can get and it's easy to see why both teams were National seeds. The biggest challenge, for either team, will be to score runs. And for us, to improve on capitalizing with RISP.
STL: How well is the fan base traveling to Omaha? Any pre-game rituals you can share?
FOW: For a school of only 8,000, we travel really, really well. I'd still say we're a football school, but baseball is a damn close second. But more so than that, we're a very loud fanbase. It's something the players feed off of and the fans want to give them that same environment in Omaha. The Regionals and Super Regionals got as loud as I've ever seen a baseball game.
Not sure about pre-game rituals. Everyone pretty much does their own thing in the parking lot. But when the fans enter the stadium, that's when it really comes together. TCU is very lucky to have a connected fanbase on Twitter, and sometimes Facebook, so certain "trends" take off. The "hootie hoo" chants, which is from the song "Slump" bu OutKast...and made popular by 'Neighbors', is a chant that started to happen at the Regionals against Siena. There's no rhyme or reason behind it, the chant happens at random times...it's really just an excuse to make noise. There were some "hootie hoos" yesterday at the game.
STL: Finnegan expected on the mound...5th in strikeouts. What's his nastiest pitch, and how has TCU been with run support for a guy that dominant on the mound?
FOW: What impresses me most with Finny is his K/9, which he leads the nation in. With a lefty-heavy squad like yourself, he's the guy you want. For me, his nastiest pitch is his slider. When he's been at his best, it's his slider that's stands out for me. When we swept Texas in April, you would've thought his slider had a some magical power on it. It was dirty.
The run support, with him and Morrison especially, is spotty. We tend to score the most runs with our third starter, a freshman named Tyler Alexander. We usually give Finny 3-4 runs.
STL: Both teams are running high after late rallies. Will that adrenaline play much of a factor?
FOW: We've been playing close to the chest all tournament. Just about every game we've won, has been a one-run game. We've been running on adrenaline for awhile now, and it seems to be working. I think I'd be more nervous if we were coming off of a blowout against Tech.
STL: Who do you have winning?
FOW: I think saving Finnegan for the second game was the right move. So I will say us. I think it's still going to be a one-run game though, so I'll say we take it 2-1.