Behind loyal senior leadership, TCU baseball reached its fourth consecutive College World Series.
by Will Konig
Brian Howard (left) and Mitchell Traver '17 decided to stick with TCU for their senior season, despite both being chosen in round 17 of the 2016 MLB Draft. Photo by Mark Graham
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by Will Konig
Baseball’s eight seniors — Brian Howard, Mitchell Traver ’17, Elliott Barzilli, Nolan Brown ’17, Mason Hesse, Ryan Merrill, Cam Warner and Evan Williams ’17 — led the program to four consecutive trips to the College World Series in Omaha, Nebraska.
Howard, a pitcher who led the Big 12 with 12 wins in 2017, watched the 2010 TCU team play in the program’s first College World Series appearance. He said that team’s spirit and athletic ability lit a fire in him. “I just fell in love with the school even before I had any contact with it.”
So when Coach Jim Schlossnagle extended a scholarship offer, Howard said, the decision to become a Horned Frog was easy.
Traver, also a pitcher, joined the university’s baseball program in 2013. Despite his being riddled by injuries, two professional franchises — first the St. Louis Cardinals and then the Cincinnati Reds — chose him in consecutive years when he became draft-eligible.
Traver turned the pros down both times to play for TCU. “My family and I were at peace knowing God wasn’t done with me [at TCU].”
The seniors’ leadership and loyalty helped spur the baseball program to unprecedented success. The Frogs for the third straight year reached the semifinals of the College World Series.
Schlossnagle said the upperclassmen made a lasting imprint on the younger Frogs. “It brings so much to your team on the field but even more so off the field … their maturity, their presence in the locker room — all those things that benefit a team.”
Traver said he wanted to pay forward the mentorship that older Frog baseball players gave him by taking the younger guys under his wing. “I really just help them grow up as quickly as possible and know that I am there with them along the way.”
While the 2018 baseball squad uses that wisdom to aim for a fifth-straight visit to Omaha, Howard will begin his professional career with the Oakland Athletics and Traver with the Los Angeles Angels.
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