Young squad’s schedule tests ability to grow

It is the beginning of the season. Start things off slow and take it easy by scheduling light-weight teams that won’t cause too many problems.

The wins pad the overall record, allow players to ease into a season and could help provide a boost in the rankings.

For a team like the TCU baseball squad, lower-level ball clubs could have been an ideal way to start the season.

The Horned Frogs are coming off a ranked, conference-winning year, but are a team in transition having lost their starting rotation and middle of the batting order.

An easy schedule could be really beneficial for TCU.

But the team went the opposite route with an early non-conference schedule laden with quality opponents, with four of its 10 opening opponents in the top 25.

The USA Today/ESPN poll has Ole Miss ranked No. 4 in the nation and Wichita State No. 19.

Rivals.com has Cal State Fullerton in the No. 20 spot and Pepperdine at No. 24.

Throw in Tulane, which has flirted with the top-25 rankings early in the season, and TCU has an incredibly formidable opening stretch.

At 4-4, the team’s .500 pace is more impressive than say 7-1 against unknowns.

A 1-4 record against top-tier opponents is not the best indicator either, with two of those losses coming in the late innings.

TCU still has a three-game series against Ole Miss and Wichita State to look forward to – the brut of its non-conference schedule.

This trial-by-fire approach is strengthening a squad of unproven players, molding a team that knows what the top competition looks like.

TCU is not going to out-power many teams this season, and the young pitching staff might not always be able to out-duel top squads’ ace pitchers, but the team recognizes this and accepts its dirtbag status.

With Tuesday’s win over the Texas State Bobcats, the Horned Frogs proved their consistent pitching and hitting approach can come up big in the bottom of the ninth.

Playing ranked teams should help TCU further establish this identity, which could really shine during its conference schedule.

The Horned Frogs have won the Mountain West the past two years and are predicted to come out on top again.

San Diego State University has been ranked in the top 25 this season, and could provide a real threat for the Horned Frog’s conference dominance.

After the schedule TCU started with, bring on the conference games.