TCU infielder Shelby Ford recently took time to answer a few questions from SCS.com. Ford is one of the top players in Conference USA and is a returning sophomore in Fort Worth. After being named to both the Baseball America and Collegiate Baseball Freshman All-America Teams in 2004, he was recently named to the National College Baseball Writers Association Preseason Third Team All-America.
The Frogs opened the 2005 season with with a three-game home sweep of Utah last weekend. In the three games, Ford went 7 for 11 (.636) with four runs scored, four RBI, three doubles, and a pair of walks.
SHELBY FORD, TEXAS CHRISTIAN UNIVERSITY
SCS.com: You led the Frogs last year with 16 homeruns in just your first season at TCU, a season that saw you start in all but one of the team's 65 games. Your 56 RBIs was the team's second-best total, and you also compiled a .570 slugging percentage for the year. The first-year success led to your selection as a member of both the Baseball America and Collegiate Baseball Freshman All-America Teams. Tell a little bit about those huge honors, and explain why you think you were able to have such great success in your freshman season.
Ford: "Those honors were a great deal to me. I came in last year with the mind set of making All-American and getting as many honors as I possibly could. I was able to have such great success because of family and friend support, along with high school coaches and other coaches that I went to camps for."
SCS.com: Looking at the stats from your freshman season, you appear to be one of those guys who can do a little bit of everything. You saw action at second base, shortstop, and third base last spring. You also continued your knack of getting hit by pitches from high school as you got plunked eighteen times in 2004! You also had a half-dozen stolen bases and hit over .300 for the year. What makes you such a versatile player, and how difficult is to play the different infield positions?
Ford: "I've always been a versatile player growing up. I love catching. I used to catch all the time but played shortstop because I was the best one for that position. I used to pitch also. My senior year, I topped out at 93 MPH. It is very difficult to play different positions because there are so many different angles you have to take."
SCS.com: Your national recognition from last season has carried over to this year. You received two huge honors within a week of each other in late November, being named to the National College Baseball Writer's Association Third Team All-America squad and being one of only 58 players in the entire country named to the Brooks Wallace Award Watch List (national player of the year). What does this national recognition mean not only to you but to your team and school?
Ford: "It means a lot to me because I work hard in the off-season to better myself and get to where I can make these honors. The biggest thing is just going out and playing the game and not letting these things go to my head. I think it brings a lot more recognition and respect to the team and school."
SCS.com: TCU finished the CUSA regular season 19-11 in league play, good enough to finish tied for fourth in the conference. But that's when the fun started for the Frogs. A trip to Houston, Texas for the CUSA Tournament was next on the schedule, and after losing the tournament's opening game, TCU got things rolling. The Frogs went on to win their next four games, including the tournament title game against Southern Miss. Any question as to whether TCU was a NCAA-worthy team was erased with that victory. Talk a little about the CUSA Tournament and the dramatic run you guys went on to win the event.
Ford: "When we dropped that first game, everyone said, 'TCU is finished, they can't come back after that loss.' We were determined to prove everyone wrong and show them that we were not a fluke team but a good team. We did that."
SCS.com: Though your trip to the NCAA Tournament was not a successful one, it is important to note that it was only TCU's third trip ever to the NCAA Baseball Tournament and the first trip in ten years. What was the experience like for you and your team?
Ford: "It was a first of many times still to come. We went down expecting to win, but we were just out-played. We had a young team, and the other teams were older. Overall, we were just out-played though."
SCS.com: You were one of three Frogs named to Collegiate Baseball's Freshman All-America Team. Along with the other two, Chad Huffman and German Duran, you were able to lead TCU to a school-record 39 wins. What made that team so special, and how much does it help you, as a freshman, to be surrounded by other freshmen who are contributing just like you?
Ford: "What made the team special was that we had a core of young players that wanted to play and start in the everyday lineup. The team was made up of a lot of players who wanted to play and do their best playing. Chad and I have known each other for a couple of years, so we knew what to expect of one another. We made a pact to each other that we would make the All-American Team."
SCS.com: Six starters in the field return this season, and the incoming freshman class was ranked number three in the country by Baseball America. One preseason poll has already ranked TCU among the top forty teams in the country. Coming off of last year's record-breaking campaign, what are the expectations for this year, and how will you work to achieve those goals?
Ford: "They are greater this year. We are working harder to get better so we can go farther."
SCS.com: Playing at TCU allowed you to visit some of the bigger-name schools like Oklahoma State, Texas Tech, and Baylor in 2004. This year's schedule has trips to Rice, Oklahoma, and again Baylor. Where is your favorite place to visit on the road, and how do you generally find the atmosphere to be at opposing teams' stadiums?
Ford: "I really don't know. But the atmosphere is like what we want here at TCU."
SCS.com: Two of your teammates from a year ago, Eugene Espineli and Clayton Jerome, were selected in last spring's MLB Draft. Though you will not be eligible for the Draft until after your junior season, have you had a chance to talk with those guys and discuss the experience, and is pro baseball something that is already on your mind?
Ford: "I haven't talked to them. Yes, pro baseball is something that I've wanted to do all my life."
SCS.com: Your head coach, Jim Schlossnagle, has made huge strides with the TCU program in his only season on campus. As previously mentioned, the Frogs won a school-record 39 games a year ago and also made the NCAA Tournament for the first time in ten years and only the third time in school history. Before he came to TCU, he led UNLV to two hugely successful seasons. What makes Coach Schlossnagle such a great college baseball coach and a great recruiter?
Ford: "The will to win."
SCS.com: What is your favorite memory from your baseball career, whether it be little league, high school, or college?
Ford: "Setting all sorts of records and making different honors."
SCS.com: Many athletes have role models that guide their athletic and personal lives. Who is one person you look up to on the field and one person you admire off the field?
Ford: "I have many, not just one. Parents, family, girlfriend, friends."
SCS.com: What are a few things you enjoy doing in your spare time?
Ford: "Playing PS2, golf, hanging with family and my girlfriend, being with friends, and relaxing."
SCS.com: If a young baseball player was reading this and aspired to become successful in the sport, what advice would you give him?
Ford: "Play hard everyday. You never know when it will be your last. No matter how much adversity you're going through, still play to the very best of your abilities. You never know who's watching you. Most of all, have fun!"
SCS.com would again like to thank TCU's Shelby Ford for taking time to answer our questions. We would like to wish he and the Frogs the best of luck throughout the upcoming season.
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