By Rusty Simmons
Christine Hudson leaned over the fence separating the baseball field from the bleachers and focused a hand-held video camera on her son, senior designated hitter Brad Rogers.
Hudson said she hoped to get some of Rogers' final memories from the TCU Diamond on film. After getting out in his first two at bats, Rogers made sure his mother would film lasting memories.
Rogers broke open a 1-0 game with a two-run home run in the bottom of the sixth inning as the Frogs beat Hawaii 4-1 Thursday in the opener of a three-game series.
"I haven't been able to see (Rogers) play as often as I would like this season (because of work)," Hudson said. "He made it exciting (Thursday), especially since he wasn't even supposed to play."
In San Jose, Calif., last weekend, Rogers' knees started showing the signs of another long season of catching. Head coach Lance Brown said Rogers had not taken much batting practice this week because of the pain in his knees.
But Ben Hudson, Rogers' stepfather, said Rogers' resurgence from injury is similar to TCU's late-season resurgence in Western Athletic Conference play.
"It is a shame that there is not going to be a WAC Tournament at the end of the season," he said. "TCU really would have had the chance to make a run at the title."
This weekend, the Frogs have to settle for making a run at the Rainbows, who are tied with TCU for fourth place in the WAC. Junior pitcher Chris Bradshaw took advantage of the opportunity to pitch against the Rainbows, allowing only one run in his first complete game of the season.
"Bradshaw had a couple of shaky starts, so he threw a little more between starts this week," Brown said. "In warm-ups he was getting his changeup and breaking pitch over, and he was spotting his fastball. I knew he was going to have a good game."
With a 4-0 lead, Bradshaw went into the eighth inning looking for the shutout. Hawaii's Darin Baker foiled the shutout attempt for Bradshaw, hitting a leadoff home run in the eighth inning.
Rogers said Bradshaw never lost his focus in the game.
"I wish I could have been back there to catch this game," he said. "He's been our workhorse this season, and he did it again Thursday. Whenever he keeps his focus, he's gotten the job done."
Bradshaw's fifth win of the season was helped out by a solid defensive effort by the entire team. Junior center fielder Marshall Wilson made three running catches, and sophomore Erick Macha and freshman Ramon Moses each had diving plays up the middle.
TCU players and coaches said the win over Hawaii is in accordance with their goal for the second half of the season.
"After playing everyone in the conference once, we didn't feel like any team overpowered or outclassed us," Brown said. "It is more about us getting our act together.
"It is important to try to get a sweep from Hawaii. Our series with Fresno State and Rice won't be important if we don't do our work here."
By Chris Harrison
The women's golf team came up three strokes short in the Western Athletic Conference Championship last weekend in Broken Arrow, Okla.
The Tulsa Golden Hurricane led the Horned Frogs by two shots heading into the final round. At the end of the day, Tulsa wound up three strokes ahead of the Horned Frogs, taking home the championship. Tulsa shot a 911 for the event, while TCU put up a 914. No. 10-ranked San Jose placed third in the tournament shooting a team total of 927, Hawaii finished fourth at 957, UTEP placed fifth at 961 and SMU closed out the event with 965.
Head Coach Angie Raviolo-Larkin said that she thought the team played great but thought they could have won the tournament.
"We were a little disappointed to be honest," Larkin said. "We really wanted this tournament, and I really thought we were going to win it. Even at the turn Wednesday I think we had lost eight shots on the front nine and we were 10 back with nine holes to go. The team was still pumped, and I thought they had a chance.
"They really gave Tulsa a run, and the team really made it exciting. There was a lot of good that came out of this tournament, and we are going to carry that into Regionals," Larkin said.
Senior Angela Stanford won the individual honors by five strokes, leading the event from the first hole. Stanford, ranked ninth in the nation by Golfstat, shot a 218 finishing ahead of two Tulsa players, Stacy Prammanasudh and Maiko Senda. Prammanasudh and Senda finished at 223. San Jose State's Rebekka Heinmert finished third with a 226. This was Stanford's fourth win of the season and her ninth career victory.
Stanford said that if she wouldn't have shot a 76 on the final day, TCU would have won the tournament.
"Any time the No.1 player shoots above a 75 or, these days, a 72, they're not really playing their role," Stanford said. "So I felt like I really needed to shoot par. If I would have shot par, we would have won."
Larkin said she was really proud of the way Stanford maintained her confidence throughout the tournament.
"Angela really hung in there and overcame some of her nerves," Larkin said. "She really wanted this one. She has won a lot of things, but this was her last chance to win the WAC Championship.
"With all the extra pressure you put on yourself, sometimes it's harder to lead by seven than it is to be behind by seven, which Tiger Woods seems to point out quite often," Larkin said. "Angela dealt with the pressure and kept the lead the whole time."
Sophomore Lori Sutherland was TCU's second-place finisher with a three-round total of 223.
Stanford and Sutherland were selected for the WAC all-conference golf team, and Shannon Barr was picked as WAC freshman of the year.
The Horned Frogs next compete in the NCAA Regionals in May in Phoenix, Ariz.
By Chris Ray
The Western Athletic Conference Championships begin today for the men's and women's tennis teams at the Bayard H. Friedman Tennis Center. Both teams hold the No. 1 seed in the championship.
The women's team, ranked No. 26 in the final regular season in the Intercollegiate Tennis Association polls, ended its most successful campaign in 14 years. The Frogs finished 18-4 and 3-1 in WAC play.
Head Coach Roland Ingram led his team this year to wins over highly ranked teams such as No. 17 South Carolina, No. 25 Washington and No. 37 Texas A&M.
Sophomore Leoni Weirich ended the regular season at 24-5. In doubles action, the "Euro Duo" of seniors Lucie Dvorakova and Daria Zoldakova was ranked as high as No. 2 in the ITA polls but currently holds the No. 12 ranking and finished the season with a 27-2 record.
The women enter as the highest-ranked team at No. 26 followed closely by Tulsa at No. 27 and Fresno State at No. 38. The women's championship begins with the No. 4 seed vs. the No. 5 seed and the No. 3 vs. the No. 6 seed at 9 a.m. The No. 1 vs. the No. 8 seed will take place at 1 p.m. along with the No. 2 vs. No. 7 seed.
SMU and Fresno State are tied for the No. 2 seed. A roundtable meeting Thursday night will determine whether SMU or Fresno will take the No. 2 seed.
The men enter at 17-4 on the season and hold the No. 14 ranking in the ITA polls. SMU, ranked No. 13 in the ITA, hold a 21-5 record but lost to the Frogs earlier in the season, 4-3, allowing the Frogs to take the top seed. Fresno State is 23-3 and is the highest-ranked team coming in at No. 11.
Head Coach Michael Center, in his second season with the Frogs, recorded career win No. 150 with the win over SMU and now seeks his first WAC title with TCU. Center said his team is playing well enough right now to compete for the championship.
"Scott Eddins and Jimmy Haney are at the top of their game, and Esteban Carril is a true All-American," Center said.
TCU boasts three ranked singles players with junior All-American Carril ranked No. 7, Eddins ranked No. 95 and junior Petr Koula ranked No. 97. The duo of Eddins and redshirt freshman Haney are ranked No. 50.
By Steven Baker
Sophomore David Bonner looks composed, but on the inside, he can't wait to put his opponent down. And at the Judo Nationals on April 1, Bonner did it in 10 seconds.
Wearing a half inch-thick white karate-like uniform and a first-degree black belt tied around his waist, he spoke to no one during the tournament. Bonner had already spent hours studying various judo champions on videotape - frame by frame - and now he was scrutinizing his current opponents. Wearing two sweat suits over his judo uniform to stay warm, not even the jump rope he was using could distract him from analyzing each fighter and finding his weaknesses.
"I was so focused on the match," said Bonner, 19, a management systems major and Air Force ROTC cadet. "I was not thinking about the gold medal; I just wanted (to) put my man down (on the mat)."
Bonner, at 5 feet 8 inches and 145 pounds, knew his opponent in the championship match, Lance Olson, favored his right arm as he stepped onto the red, white and blue mat. Using the Uchimata technique, Bonner pinned Olson's right arm to his waist, picked him up and slammed him down on his back, ending the match automatically.
Bonner won two gold medals, in the lightweight youth and senior divisions at the tournament, as part of the Millennium Martial Arts Festival at the Walt Disney World Wide World of Sports Field House. And now he wants to bring his experience to TCU through the Judo club. The club, begun by Bonner and John Householder, director of admissions operations, already has about five members and meets 9 p.m. Thursdays in the Frog Fit Room 122 in the Rickel Building.
Bonner said this Judo club will be an opportunity for everyone to come out and learn to work as a team.
"I don't want it to be stressful or intense," Bonner said. "This is a relaxed environment that is open to everyone."
Bonner knows what stress is.
Since the age of 6, fighting in the Olympics has been his dream.
His mother, Lillian Bonner, said she remembers driving David 30 minutes back and forth for his nighttime practices while they lived in Ohio.
"I remember following the full moon at night (on the journey home) and wondering why I was doing this," she said. "It is a long struggle for parents. But you know the end of the road is near when your child wins a gold medal."
Lillian Bonner said when David won his first tournament at 6 years old, the trophy was taller than he was.
"I think judo has matured his life," she said. "I don't think it is something parents can give a child; he has to learn it from his judo teacher."
One of the reasons Bonner came to TCU was because of the teacher at Fort Worth Judo, Tommy Dyer. While studying there, he met his training partner, Calvin Pacleb.
Pacleb, a junior economics major at the University of Texas-Arlington, said Bonner has helped him tremendously with improving his skills as a judo fighter.
"When I met (David Bonner) I was a white belt, but now I am a brown belt, which is one step below a black belt," he said. "He would stay with me after every practice and help me fine tune my skills."
Pacleb also said Bonner is intelligent for a judo fighter and a reliable friend.
"His nickname is 'Stats' because you can ask him anything about judo, and he knows, dates and everything," he said. "He even reads Shakespeare when it is not assigned to him at school. He is the kind of guy you can trust. He will help you in any way that is reasonable."
Bonner's knowledge and skill of judo almost helped him reach the 2000 Sydney Summer Olympics. However, a shoulder injury last summer and subsequent orthoscopic surgery in April prevented him from qualifying.
"I felt like judo was my whole life," Bonner said. "I was so narrow-minded, and sometimes that hurt my class work. Now, I am focused on graduating and getting a good job."
He said he doesn't know if he will ever fight in the Olympics, but he does have aspirations of becoming a professional judo referee some day.
Bonner said a quote from one of his favorite writers, John Ruskin, reflects his satisfaction with his judo career.
"The highest reward for a person's toil is not what they get for it, but what they become of it."
By Joel Anderson
The TCU football team was going through its routine of footwork drills on a February afternoon on the Clifton and Sheridan Morris Practice Fields near Amon Carter Stadium. As the players, many of whom weren't wearing cleats, slipped and fell on the soggy grass, cheers and jeers filled the brisk winter air.
Spectators turned to watch the scene, fixed on head coach Dennis Franchione's freshly crowned Western Athletic Conference champions.
Unfortunately, the spectators were theoretically supposed to be watching a TCU baseball team that was in the midst of a hard-fought doubleheader against Southwest Texas State University. TCU would go on to win the first game, 6-3, but the football team's workout held most of the fans' attention for about three of the game's nine innings.
By the time the second game rolled around, which the Frogs would lose 9-6, most of the 70 or so fans at the baseball game had filed out of the TCU Diamond.
Another day, another disappointment.
Pastime bypasses TCU
In a country where baseball is referred to as "America's pastime," TCU seems to have been left out of the hoopla. TCU's home games are usually played before few observers during weekday afternoons, making it hard for students and other fans to attend games without missing school or work.
"It's a totally different atmosphere from how it used to be," said TCU baseball head coach Lance Brown. "It's sort of like everyone just sits there. We just can't create an intense situation in the stands."
That would appear to be a problem. Particularly when an unofficial head count showed that only 44 people were present for the opening pitch of TCU's 4-1 victory against Hawaii Thursday.
The TCU athletics media relations department listed the attendance at 280.
Players, coaches and fans usually cite the lack of stadium lighting, which prevents the Frogs from playing night games, small grandstands and paltry attendance as the reasons TCU baseball games are devoid of traditional baseball atmosphere.
Yes, baseball atmosphere: hot dog vendors, crowded grandstands and a casual milieu. TCU has hot dogs, but you must walk into Daniel-Meyer Coliseum to get them. TCU has grandstands, but they're far from crowded. And the fans are very casual - usually to the point of numbness.
Listen to the chorus of Horned Frogs supporters and it's obvious that TCU is missing the ingredients of a true baseball setting.
"Everywhere you go, the other school always has a pretty good facility," said Chris Connally, TCU's first-base coach and former player. "If we had a good field, you don't know what it could do for our program. Baseball is baseball to the players, but who knows what kind a difference there could be if we had a nice stadium? It's just hard to bring in high-quality recruits with a facility like this."
Diamond in the rough
The TCU Diamond features several peculiarities, including base paths covered with grass, a center field made of concrete and no warning track, which is usually about 10 feet of dirt around the perimeter of the outfield wall.
Hawaii pitcher Aaron Pribble took a glance at the center field and said, "The center field is interesting. But you know what? I think lights would be cool."
Lights would be cool, not only because TCU could start playing night games, which would probably boost attendance, but because Horned Frog players wouldn't have to leave their 11 a.m. classes to go to pre-game batting practice.
WAC rules mandate that baseball teams take batting practice at least two hours before the start of games, meaning that TCU players often miss class to prepare for their afternoon games.
"I left class early (Thursday)," said sophomore infielder Erick Macha. "Sometimes it just depends (whether or not to miss class) if you really need to go."
Brown staunchly believes his players shouldn't have to make that choice.
"A lot of kids don't even come to (batting practice)," he said. "So they come out here, without BP, then they try to play the game. You can't get ready for a game like that.
"My argument is for the players' academics. It puts our student-athletes in an awkward position. It's also a battle for the teachers, but they've been very kind to us. They're always bending over backwards to help us out. Because of academics, maybe lights are more important than we think."
For the fans, the differences in stadium amenities is very evident.
"It could be better," said Don Thoms, a casual fan whose son was briefly recruited by TCU out of Arlington Heights High School. "I've been to (Texas Tech University), and they've got a great facility. For some of Tech's night games they draw almost 2,500 fans. With a different facility, a little promotion and more success, it could get better around here quickly."
Longtime fans and members of the TCU Frog Club, Jim Barbour, a TCU student in 1954 and 1956; Dan Murphy, whose wife taught physical education at TCU; and Glenn Routt, a retired Brite Divinity School professor, all see room for improvement at the Diamond.
"We definitely need to add lights here," Murphy said.
"We just need to build a new stadium," Barbour added.
"Yeah, we're looking forward to a new place," Routt said. "That would help us out a lot. Lights, at the least."
But T. Ross Bailey, director of operations and sports medicine, said TCU's baseball program has needs beyond adding lights.
"I think we need a new facility," Bailey said. "I would hope a new baseball stadium would help us reach a higher quality of athletes. Any new facility brings in a new level of excitement.
"I think the caliber of the facility helps set the tone for the program. When you walk into Amon Carter Stadium, you get excited. When you walk into Daniel-Meyer, you get excited. My goal would be to have the same feeling about the baseball team."
Bailey said TCU is currently considering two different concepts for a baseball stadium and that as soon as the money were secured, construction would begin on the stadium.
"Two different firms have come up with the concept for a stadium," Bailey said. "But a concept is you and I drawing on napkins. Whenever the stadium gets funded, we'll break ground. If you want to put your name on it, we've got the land. Then we can get it done."
If you build it, they will come
Brown said he would prefer it get done sooner, rather than later.
"It's difficult to compete with other schools for the top athletes once they see our facilities," said Brown, noting that in-state rivals Baylor, Rice, Texas Tech and the University of Houston had all recently opened new, plush stadiums. "It's just sort of sad to see recruits make a decision to go somewhere else, when I think they could be happier here. I consider this to be a great university, but sometimes facilities play a really big role.
"Besides, drawing a big crowd is pretty simple. A lot of it is just having a neat place to go."
Judging from the sparse crowd at Thursday's game, many people don't think of the Diamond when they think of "a neat place to go."
The 50 or so fans attending the contest all appeared focused on the game, but too often silence filled the stands rather than noise. The muggy, spring afternoon was accommodating to the game, but the spectators were relatively quiet and inactive.
Grant Sato, a pitcher for Hawaii, smirked when asked if TCU lacked a true baseball atmosphere.
"Well, it's unique here, that's for sure," he said diplomatically. "Maybe people have other things to do."
The TCU Daily Skiff © 1998, 1999 Credits