The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

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The BattalionMay 4, 2024

From Aggieland to America’s Heartland

Photo by Robert O’Brien

Junior pitcher Micah Dallas (34) gives a Pringle to A&M coach Jim Schlossnagle (22) in celebration ater the Aggies outlast the Razorbacks at Olsen Field on Friday, April 22, 2022.

As the old saying goes, “It’s not about the destination, but the journey.” 

But why not both?

In 2021, the unknown factors of the Texas A&M baseball team were at an all-time high. Every player and coach entered the locker room, introducing themselves to the new coaching staff as well as their new teammates who transferred to A&M or who were returning. Each person had a different story and individual journey, but in the moment, they were destined to be a team.

After learning each other’s names, backgrounds and personalities, the team needed to set goals for the season.

“It’s new pieces for everybody. For the returners, it’s new. All of the new guys, it’s obviously new,” graduate catcher Troy Claunch said in January. “Your opening day lineup is not going to be the lineup that wins you a game in Omaha, [Neb.]”

Thoughts swarmed the minds of the players, “Could A&M make it to the SEC Tournament after falling short in 2021?”, “What would their record be?”, “How long would it take new head coach Jim Schlossnagle to turn the program around?” 

The players had understandable questions about the trajectory of their season, but what they didn’t know yet was the potential of the one gripping the steering wheel

The man in the driver’s seat, Schlossnagle, accepted the head coaching position after an 18-season stint at TCU. After leaving Fort Worth, a place he called home for many years, Schlossnagle woke up sweating in the Texas A&M Hotel and Conference Center, wondering if he made the right decision. 

A couple days later, Schlossnagle compiled a staff of coaches from all over the country, hiring pitching coach Nate Yeskie from Arizona, assistant coach Nolan Cain from LSU and hitting coach Michael Earley from Arizona State. Each coach was not only experienced but were former ball players who had the same redefining vision Schlossnagle had.

What was that vision exactly? One of impatience. Schlossnagle wanted changes made tomorrow. 

“My vision is, there’s not 8,000 people in this ballpark, there’s 15,000 to 18,000 people in this ballpark. They’re all standing on their feet singing the War Hymn as we’re headed to the College World Series, or as we all come back here after winning the national championship and have a big party at Olsen Field.” Schlossnagle told Casey Stavenhagen of The Battalion in February. “I don’t want the ballpark renovated; I want it renovated tomorrow. My worst character trait is I’m not patient.”

He needed to build a roster to make once-distant dreams a reality. Schlossnagle scoured the transfer portal and recruited all around the country. One by one, he and his staff built the 2022 Fightin’ Texas Aggie baseball team.

Twenty new Aggies who were not on the 2021 roster pledged their commitment to Schlossnagle, including four athletes who are on the current batting order: sophomore first baseman Jack Moss, graduate left fielder Dylan Rock, graduate shortstop Kole Kaler and Claunch.

“Coming in, we knew that the pieces were there,” sophomore third baseman and returner Trevor Werner said. “We just needed somebody to bring everybody together. We had the parts, and coach [Schlossnagle] made us whole.”

The new faces, from all around the country, dispersed from the East to the West Coast, were eager to join the culture of Aggieland. The old faces, returning Aggies coming off a losing conference record, were excited to rebuild the program into one to remember.

The season kicked off in February with what appeared to be the start of a regularly programmed “Year 1,” typically viewed as an adjustment season for the coaches and players to build off of.

But with Olsen magic on their side, anything could happen. 

A&M went 11-5 in pre-conference play. After an 8-2 loss to Houston, Schlossnagle challenged the team’s competitive grit, comparing wins and runs to that of a Pringles chip. 

“When you win a game, you should want to win two,” Schlossnagle said. “When you want to win two, you should want to win three. It’s like Pringles. Whoever opens a can of Pringles and eats just one?”

To open SEC play at LSU, junior righty and Texas Tech transfer Micah Dallas took his coach’s word literally and brought a can of Pringles, handing out chips after every run scored. Since then, the team has adopted the motto and carried the fun with them throughout the rest of the season. The Pringles may have served as the fuel, but it was the game of baseball that bonded the strangers into brothers.

Series after series turned into win after win, and the vision Schlossnagle preached to start the season seemed not so distant. The team believed in themselves and each other.

The Aggies went on to win seven-straight series against a tough SEC schedule under the guidance of Schlossnagle. One by one, the leaders emerged, the bats were hot and the team was far enough into the season to know that they were on the brink of something special. 

“I called him after the Penn series, and I said, ‘Coach, it’s going to be OK. We don’t have to panic. This is a long-term build. This is a process.’ To have it flip like that and to be able to host and win the [SEC] West … an unbelievable turnaround in Year 1,” A&M Athletic Director Ross Bjork told

The maroon and white ballclub was crowned the SEC West champions, and the NCAA Division I Baseball Committee announced A&M as the No. 5 seed to end the regular season. A&M’s postseason continued in College Station, hosting a regional and super regional, and a perfect 5-0 run through the first two rounds of the NCAA tournament landed the Aggies the first spot in the College World Series.

“I’ve talked to a lot of the returners, and it’s hard to put into words where we finished last year compared to this year,” returner and junior centerfielder Jordan Thompson said.

In its first College World Series appearance since 2017, A&M has defied all preseason odds and dumbfounded college baseball fans around the country.

“To be sitting here and going to the College World Series, I know this sounds coachy, but every single ounce of credit belongs to the players,” Schlossnagle said.

One year and a week after his hiring, Schlossnagle’s vision has come to life.

Whether new or returning, each coach and player bought into the spirit of the 12th Man and what it means to be an Aggie. They sawed “varsity’s horns off” after every game, made the bubbles fly at Blue Bell Park and glided through the season with a competitiveness that set them apart from their opponents. 

So yes, the journey speaks for itself. For Schlossnagle and company, it may have been the road trip of a lifetime to get where they are today, but the tank has yet to run out of gas.

The desired destination one may ask? The Cornhusker State. 

After a year of wearing maroon-colored glasses and acclimating to a new coach and roster, Nebraska’s corn fields and the Kentucky Bluegrass of Charles Schwab Field have narrowed the Aggie’s vision on what lies ahead. 

It’s the greatest show on dirt.
The preseason uncertainty had flown out the window on their way to the Midwest, as if they knew this was right where they were meant to be. After all, one can’t drive while only looking in the rearview mirror.
It was the vision Schlossnagle had all along. 

“I don’t want to slow down — I want a national title,” Schlossnagle said.

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