COLLEGE STATION, Texas | There were some adjustments Jerrick Suiter needed to make when he moved to Fort Worth for his freshman year at Texas Christian University.
He bought his first pair of cowboy boots to fit in better. He also decided to focus all his attention to baseball after an elbow injury in the first few weeks of football practice.
Maybe it wasn’t in that order of importance, but Suiter -- a 2011 Valparaiso High School product -- has made the necessary changes, and positive results are starting to fall into place.
When TCU senior left fielder Jason Coats went down with an ACL tear in late May, Suiter was inserted in the lineup, trying to replace a First-Team All Mountain West player with 300 career hits and 200 RBIs.
“It kills me to see Jason Coats in our dugout not playing,” TCU coach Jim Schlossnagle said. “(Jason) was one of the greatest players in the history of the school. We feel real confident in Jerrick, though, and what he can do.”
Originally recruited as a pitcher, Suiter’s bat proved to be too good to not be in the everyday lineup. Schlossnagle has penciled his name in the lineup as designated hitter, center fielder, right fielder, left fielder and catcher.
Suiter still works on developing command and breaking balls in practice to go along with his low-90s fastball. Last June, he was drafted as a pitcher in the 35th round of the amateur draft by the Toronto Blue Jays.
“We still have aspirations of him being on the mound,” Schlossnagle said. “He missed a lot of development time in the fall because of football. But we’re pretty fired up about the hitter, outfielder and catcher that he can become.”
His bat has been particularly effective as of late with adjustments to his hitting stance.
Following a loss to Mississippi on Friday, TCU played itself out of the loser’s bracket and defeated the Rebels on Sunday and Monday to advance to the Super Regionals. They will travel to Los Angeles to begin a best-of-three series against UCLA on Friday for a bid into the College World Series.
On Saturday, Suiter slapped a career-high five hits in TCU’s 28-12 thrashing of Dayton in College Station’s Regional postseason game. He upped his average .314 for the season after going 9-for-20 and being named on the College Station Regional All-Tournament team. This came after the weekend before, when he was named to the Mountain West All-Tournament team after going 7-for-11 in three games in the Las Vegas tournament.
“I’ve been working the past few weeks on the changes, and it has kind of turned things around,” Suiter said after Saturday’s game. “Yeah, the games are regionals, and it’s a big deal, but you have to take it as just another game.”
Suiter is one of 10 highly-touted freshmen who have made an immediate impact on a Horned Frogs club that was 40-20 after Monday’s win. They were Mountain West co-champions, marking the seventh consecutive season with a conference title.
Although Suiter has found the field and enjoyed success his freshman year, it was a stark adjustment to the skill level of a different kind of baseball that’s featured in the South.
“It’s kind of hard to even talk about,” he said. “It’s completely different. Baseball up north and baseball down here is different.”
Even with 23 of the 30 players on TCU coming from in-state, Suiter has shown his ability and usefulness.
After doubling on his fifth hit Saturday afternoon in the eighth inning, he walked back to the dugout, and instead of any slap on the back of recognition, he found he needed to throw on the catcher’s gear for the final inning of work on the 98-degree day.
“Wherever coach needs me I’ll go,” he said.