The loss of Jason Coats for the Mountain West Conference tournament is much more personal to his coaches and teammates and about much more than what he brings to the TCU offense.
His teammates’ reaction to news that Coats will miss the MWC with a knee injury was understandably solemn. The Horned Frogs (35-17) open the MWC tournament against San Diego State (24-32) at 5 p.m. Thursday in Las Vegas.
“It’s really awful,” Catcher Josh Elander said. “Jason is probably my best friend on the team. We’ve spent the last couple summers playing together.”
Coats hurt his knee rounding first base Sunday. He’ll be reevaluated May 29 but the prospects of him being available for the NCAA Regional are unclear. He leads the Frogs in batting and RBIs. He was drafted last June but chose to return to TCU for his senior year. He had a shot at becoming the Frogs’ all-time leader in hits. He already owns school records for at bats and doubles and is second in RBIs.
TCU coach Jim Schlossnagle said he was planning on taking out his three seniors, including Coats, during the ninth inning on Senior Day Sunday to let the Lupton Stadium crowd pay one last tribute. Coats was injured in the sixth inning.
“Just to see him work so hard and take the chance to comeback to school and put all his chips on the table for everybody here at TCU was such a selfless decision,” Elander said. “Coach Schloss said sometimes bad things happen to good people. You just have to believe in the long run he’ll get what he deserves because he’s an unbelievable class act.”
TCU dealt with numerous injuries earlier in the season and were hounded by a disastrous set of injuries to its pitching staff last year that hindered the Frogs’ postseason. In contrast to last year, TCU is a lot healthier overall as the postseason begins, but the loss of Coats is a blow to the offense. Freshman Jerrick Suiter and senior Zac Jordan are most likely to replace Coats in left field and at the plate in Las Vegas.
“All year long it feels like we’ve been taking body shots,” Schlossnagle said. “It has been a grind, but that’s the season and that’s life. It’s good mental preparation for the postseason.”
-- Stefan Stevenson