Baseball team ranked highest in Big 12

Baseball team ranked highest in Big 12

The TCU baseball team is ranked No. 14 in Baseball America’s preseason rankings, the highest ranking of all Big 12 teams.

One of only two teams in the conference to be ranked, the 2013 season will mark TCU’s first season of Big 12 baseball. The University of Oklahoma is the only other member of the Big 12 to appear, nestling in at No. 19. TCU and Oklahoma are scheduled to meet in conference play in March.

TCU and Oklahoma both make appearances in the USA Today Top 25 coaches’ poll and Collegiate Baseball rankings. Baylor also made the USA Today Top 25 coaches’ poll, while Texas appears on the Collegiate Baseball top 25.

TCU plays Baylor at home for a three-game series in April and will play Texas in the final regular season series in May.

The Horned Frogs open their season against No. 13 Ole Miss for the second consecutive season. No. 22 Cal State Fullerton, which TCU plays its first home series against this season, rounds out TCU opponents appearing in the Baseball America preseason rankings.

Although the Frogs lost players such as center fielder Kyle Von Tungeln, right fielder Brance Rivera and left fielder Jason Coats, other key players are set to return. Sophomore pitcher Preston Morrison, who had a breakout season in 2012, is set to return as TCU's lead starting pitcher. Juniors Andrew Mitchell and  Stephen Crichton and sophomore Brandon Finnegan will also return for the Frogs and finish out the rotation.

Infielders Kevin Cron and Jantzen Witte are back as well. Cron, a sophomore first baseman, hit .338 with six home runs and 34 RBI. 

Witte, a senior third baseman, missed 18 games last season due to injury, but he returned to hit safely in all but one game of the regional at College Station. He serves as one of five seniors on TCU's roster.

The season is set to begin Feb. 15 against Ole Miss in Oxford, Miss.