Spring 2003
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A TCU Coup!
Alma Matters
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TCU Magazine "Riff Ram"

Safe at home

With Major League amenities, Lupton Stadium and Williams-Reilly Field has the baseball program feeling good about its home-field advantage.

Head baseball coach Lance Brown jokes that he's never had a more tidy bunch of players. But walk through the team's locker room at sparkling new Lupton Stadium and nary a hat, batting glove or stray jock strap is out of place.

"It's like the maid comes through everyday," Brown laughs.

Hey, coach, you'd keep it clean too if you had new digs like this: Heated dugouts with Major League-style bat and helmet racks, spacious bullpen areas just outside the foul lines, the best natural grass surface available -- Bermuda TIFF 419.

The $7 million ballpark is a diamond in every sense of the word. Pitchers love the deep fences. Hitters talk about the wide-open power alleys. Fielders warn that base hits get to the fence in a hurry. And no one misses opposing players snickering at the green slope in right-center.

"I hated that ugly wall, everybody did," senior outfielder Terry Trofholz says. "But now, the players are taking a lot of pride in the stadium. It's a responsibility, but it's one we will gladly take. It's almost like we have a brand-new [baseball] program here."

The renewed sense of enthusiasm and energy extends to all reaches of the program:

- Team image. "What people have thought about our old place and about our team -- nine guys hitting bombs [in a small ballpark] and high-scoring, no defense games -- is going to change," says Coach Brown. "Fans are going to see us getting a lot more doubles and triples. There's going to be a lot of plays at the plate."

- Strategy. "We're going to need to have a good defense," says senior third baseman Mike Settle, "because at the old place, it wasn't as big a factor. If you made good contact, it was either a home run or a single."

Coach Brown agrees. When players get hits in the outfield alleys, "they need to be thinking three, not gliding around first. A great center fielder is going to be a must. Pitching and defense will definitely be more important."

- Recruiting. Brown could always recruit. But with Texas programs such as Baylor, Rice and Houston dangling new stadiums before prospects' eyes, the coach was facing an uphill climb.

No longer. Lupton has caught the eye of top players from the Metroplex, and seven are already signed up to join TCU next season.

"All of a sudden, they can say, 'Hey, I can stay here in Fort Worth and play, and play at this first-class facility," he says.

- Fan support. More than 3,100 saw the Frogs play their home opener on Feb. 19. Compare that to the "crowd" of 232 that saw them open the season the year before, and the impact the stadium has already had on the program is clear. (In fact, the Feb. 19 audience, which overflowed onto the grassy areas along the foul lines, was more than half of what TCU drew in the entire 2002 season.)

With eight of the their first 11 wins coming in Fort Worth, the Frogs are off to a fast start in making Lupton a real home-field advantage.

Winter Roundup

Women's basketball. At press time, the Lady Frogs had just swept through the Conference USA Tournament to earn an automatic berth in the NCAA Tournament, the program's third consecutive trip to the Big Dance. When they got there, they defeated eighth-seeded Michigan State 50-47 in the first round for the right to play top seed Connecticut, which had won 70 of its last 71 games. The Lady Frogs played with hustle and spirit and led the Lady Huskies at the half, 35-33, before falling behind in the second half. They lost 81-66, but made a very respectable showing in front of a nationally televised audience on ESPN. The game capped off an up-and-down year for the Lady Frogs, who played the nation's seventh-most difficult schedule. The season's most memorable highlight came in late February. A home defeat of UAB gave Jeff Mittie his 79th win as head coach, making him the winningest coach in the program's history.

Men's golf. With a school-record four golfers rated in the top 100, the Frogs held the third position in Golfweek's ratings of collegiate golf teams. Among the players rated in the top 100 are: Adam Rubinson (No. 19), David Schultz (No. 31), Adam Meyer (No. 75) and Colby Beckstrom (No. 78).

Women's golf. The Lady Frogs began the spring with a second-place finish at the Tulane Invitational. Their three-day score of 922 was 14 shots behind the host school. The Frog duo of D'Rae Ward and Brooke Tull posted top 10 individual finishes. For Ward, her eight-over 224 was good for fourth place -- her best finish of the season.

Track. The No. 11 Flyin' Frogs have 12 athletes and the 4x440 yard relay team qualified for the NCAA Indoor Championships in March. On the men's side, they include All-American sprinter Michael Frater and Jabari Fields in the 60-meter dash, Jermaine Joseph in the 200 meters, Jerry Harris and Brandon Simpson in the 400 meters, Jackson Langat in the 800 meters, All-Americans Aundre Edwards and Cleavon Dillon in the long jump and Brandal Lawrence in the triple jump. On the women's side, sprinter Monica Twum and La'Toya White in the 60 meters and Donita Harmon in the 200 meters have set qualifying marks.

Rifle. The Frogs swept individual and team titles in February at the NCAA Sectional meet on their home range. TCU Purple won both the smallbore and air rifle competitions with the White team placing second in both disciplines. Celeste Green earned Sectional championship crowns in both events.

Swimming/Diving. The defending champion men's team won the Conference USA Invitational in February, sparked by a school record 1:21.38 in the 200 freestyle relay. The squad of Aaron Ewert, Jeff Parkinson, David Tietze and Dana Kizer bested the record set in 1997 by four-tenths of a second. Craig Chapman also broke a school record -- his own -- in the 200 backstroke with a time of 1:45.56. The women closed the most successful regular season in head coach Richard Sybesma's 24 years at TCU, notching a dual meet record of 12-2. Their 200 free relay team also did some record breaking. The squad of Leann Cathcart, Erin Irons, Andrea Stevens and Katie Schell took the C-USA title in 1:35.04, breaking the 1988 school record by one-hundredth of a second. Irons continued her success when she won the 50-yard freestyle in :23.28, edging a TCU record of :23.36, set in 1990.

Tennis. The women began their 2003 season with a perfect 4-0 mark (2-0 in C-USA) and ranked number 26 in the nation. Wins came against No. 45 Baylor, Houston, St. Louis and North Texas. The men (5-2, 1-0) are also ranked nationally -- at No. 36. The Frogs have defeated No. 41 Arizona State, No. 45 South Alabama, St. Louis, UTA and Texas A&M-CC.