College baseball

Valpo grad Suiter helps TCU to first Big 12 baseball tourney title

2014-05-29T18:00:00Z 2014-05-30T11:39:06Z Valpo grad Suiter helps TCU to first Big 12 baseball tourney titleJim Peters james.peters@nwi.com, (219) 548-4363 nwitimes.com

Tracking Jerrick Suiter on the diamond for TCU is kind of like the old Looney Tunes cartoon where Bugs Bunny plays every position for the Tea Totalers against the vaunted Gas-House Gorillas.

Now pitching for the Horned Frogs, Jerrick Suiter, playing first base, Jerrick Suiter.

You get the idea.

"One of the things I wish is I had one spot to focus on all the time," the Valpo High grad said. "At the same time, it's helped a lot in my career, high school, college and hopefully on to a pro career. Being versatile has been a big part of playing baseball. I never know where I'm going to be needed, but whatever Coach (Jim Schlossnagle) needs me to help the team, he knows he can put me there."

Suiter has played every position except second base and shortstop in his three years at TCU. A regular in the lineup, he's started in right field and at first base this season before finding a niche as designated hitter.

"It's something I had to get used to real quick," he said. "I wouldn't say pitching is a thing of the past, but it's not where I'm needed. (DH) was the spot that was open and it was my time to grab it."

Did he ever. In a string of 16 starts there, Suiter is hitting .352 with an on-base percentage of .462. He hit .455 in the Big 12 tournament, earning Most Outstanding Player honors as the Horned Frogs won their first title since joining the conference in 2012.

"It was an honor to receive the award, to represent our school in that way," Suiter said. "I've been seeing the ball well lately. I just stuck to my plan, hitting line drives through the middle of the field, and it worked out pretty well. But it wasn't just me. Our pitching has been incredible all year long. They've carried us to this point and they did all the way through the tournament."

The role is unique for Suiter, considering he's always been on the field. He credits Brian Cain, TCU's mental conditioning coach, for helping him find the right approach.

"A lot of it comes down to the mental side of baseball," Suiter said. "The hard part is you don't have the time out on the field to get over a bad at-bat or bad call. The main thing is to do the same thing every at-bat, to get locked in the moment. When something you don't like happens, which happens a lot in baseball, you have to release it, get back in your routine, start over and win the next pitch."

Increased quickness has also benefited Suiter, who weighed as much as 248 pounds as a freshman, when he dabbled with football. He's now down to about 225 and ran his fastest 60-yard time with a 6.71.

"All our workouts are baseball specific," Suiter said. "It's helped out my game tremendously."

Suiter's name may get called in the June 5 draft, but he's not worrying about that at the moment. TCU (42-15), the No. 7 national seed, opens NCAA tournament play tonight in Fort Worth against Siena with a trip to the College World Series in its sights.

"Honestly, I haven't really thought about it much," he said. "If I get a call, I get a call. If not, I'll come back for my senior year. I'm focused on one thing right now. My goal is to help the team get to Omaha. That's been the goal every year since I've been here, the years before, and it always will be."

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