Hosting a super regional at Lupton Baseball Stadium ‘means the world’ to TCU Baseball


Charles Baggarly

A purple sunset hovers over Lupton Baseball Stadium on April 7, 2023.

By Charles Baggarly

After TCU recorded the final out of the Fayetteville Regional Tournament, second-year head coach Kirk Saarloos looked at associate head coach TJ Bruce and assistant coach John DiLaura. Saarloos contemplated the hard work the staff and team put in to get to this point. 

For the first time since 2017, the Horned Frogs punched their ticket to a super regional. Saarloos isn’t a stranger to a deep postseason run, as he’s made the College World Series four times in his coaching career.

This is, however, the first time he’s made a super regional as a head coach.

“[Making a super regional] takes a little different meaning, you know, as the head coach,” Saarloos said. “Just super proud of our team and our players in terms of their resiliency.”

The Fayetteville Regional Championship wasn’t the only thing TCU celebrated on Monday.

Meredith Montgomery, the assistant athletics director for baseball administration, told Saarloos TCU was expected to host the super regional in Fort Worth.

Saarloos was “shocked.” He said he thought Montgomery was joking, given Indiana State is the No. 14 overall national seed.

Montgomery told Saarloos about Indiana State’s dilemma. The Sycamores couldn’t host the super regional due to a commitment to Indiana Special Olympics.

Saarloos mentioned he felt bad for the Indiana State players “who earned the right” to host a super regional in front of their home fans.

“But it’s a great cause,” Saarloos said.

The TCU community rallied behind Indiana State, uplifting the Sycamores after the tough news. The Lupton Drinking Club, a TCU fan podcast, asked fans to join them in donating to the Indiana State Special Olympics.

The support TCU fans showed was overwhelming. On Wednesday, Special Olympics Indiana announced they received more $30,000 in donations.

“I think that’s phenomenal in terms of … what the Lupton crew did in terms of raising awareness for [Indiana Special Olympics],” Saarloos said.

Designated hitter Kurtis Byrne said it’s been awesome to see the donations roll in.

“That’s really taken off, for the Special Olympics,” Byrne said. “That’s been a really cool thing.”

TCU starting pitcher Sam Stoutenborough said Indiana State is hosting a good event for a great cause.

“And I’m glad that, you know, the Lupton Drinking Club, they were able to … raise that kind of money,” Stoutenborough said. “I thought that was really cool gesture.”

Now, TCU players are preparing not only to play a super regional but also to play a super regional at Lupton Baseball Stadium in Fort Worth. 

“Being able to [play] and doing it on the stage that we’re doing it on,” second baseman Tre Richardson said. “It’s pretty exciting to me. I’m just having fun with the boys.”

When Saarloos told the team the hosting news, Richardson experienced a “crazy wave of emotions”. Richardson said he’s excited to, once again, play in front of the Lupton Baseball Stadium crowd.

“It’s Lupton,” Tre Richardson said. “It’s Lupton magic. … It’s why we came to the university. It’s amazing to see the fans come out.”

Byrne said hosting a super regional in Fort Worth is a “dream come true.”

“It’s awesome,” Byrne said. “[Lupton] is going to be a really, really cool environment.”

Stoutenborough said he’s thrilled to get “one more chance” to pitch in front of the TCU fans and added he’s excited to compete.

“It’s gonna mean the world to us,” Stoutenborough said. “And it’s definitely going to have put the momentum on our side. So I’m excited to see the fans come out and pack Lupton this weekend, and it’s gonna be a lot of fun.

When Saarloos broke the news to the team, he said he could see the excitement among the players. He mentioned Lupton Baseball Stadium is going to be “rocking and rolling.”

“You know, there’s nothing better than playing postseason baseball at Lupton,” Saarloos said.

Up next

TCU will face Indiana State at 4 p.m. Friday at Lupton Baseball Stadium.

“We’re focused on game one on Friday night, and that’s it,” Stoutenborough said. “We’re just taking it one step at a time, one game at a time.”