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No. 24 Texas Longhorns baseball visits No. 9 TCU in key conference match-up

Texas could nearly secure a spot in the NCAA tournament and even position itself for a regional host with a strong weekend.

NCAA Baseball: College World Series-Coastal Carolina vs TCU Bruce Thorson-USA TODAY Sports

Texas Longhorns baseball (31-16, 9-8 Big 12) travels to Fort Worth for a top 25 showdown with the TCU Horned Frogs (32-11, 12-6 Big 12) this weekend. The three game series begins Friday night at 7 pm CST on ESPNU.

Though unlikely, a sweep would move the Longhorns past the currently first ranked Horned Frogs in the Big 12 standings and would put the ‘Horns in serious conversation for hosting a regional. Texas is projected as a two-seed for the NCAA tournament in today’s mock-up.

Getting any wins, however, will be a struggle against a dominant TCU team. The big question this weekend for the Horned Frogs will be how they bounce back after losing two straight, including a 21-3 series closing whooping at the hands of No. 6 Texas Tech.

Texas’ advantage over TCU is that the Longhorns have three top-notch starters in Nolan Kingham (2.05 ERA), Morgan Cooper (1.45 ERA), and Kyle Johnston (3.29 ERA). The Horned Frogs lost their ace starter Jared Janczak due to shoulder soreness and will likely send out Nick Lodolo (4.39 ERA), Brian Howard (5.43 ERA), and Mitchell Traver (3.95 ERA).

On paper, the pitching match-ups should be cause for excitement from ‘Horns fans. But will it be enough to make up for Texas’ offensive inabilities? Texas is hitting only .246 on the year while TCU sits at .273 as a team.

TCU undoubtably has the offensive weapons to challenge Texas’ stout pitching. Horned Frogs first baseman Luken Baker is a household name for anyone even remotely following college baseball. The 6-4, 265 pound sophomore already has eight homers on the year, and hones a .536 slugging percentage and .463 on base percentage, both team bests.

Baker is far from the only threat in TCU’s batting order. Leadoff batter Austen Wade is hitting .344 with 11 doubles. Catcher Evan Skoug has nine homers on the year.

One thing is for sure -- A defensively excellent ‘Horns squad facing off against an offensively potent Horned Frogs unit should make for some great baseball this weekend.