LUBBOCK, Texas – Hoping to carry over its success from 2018, the Texas Tech softball team opens up the 2019 season with five games at the Lone Star Collegiate Classic in Conroe, Texas, on Feb. 8-10.
Fifth-year head coach Adrian Gregory's Red Raiders will kick off their 2019 campaign against Nebraska-Omaha (2 p.m.) and Nebraska (7 p.m.) on Friday, Feb. 8, before taking on the Huskers (2 p.m.) and Wisconsin (7 p.m.) on Saturday. Tech will wrap up the Lone Star Collegiate Classic with a 1 p.m. matchup against Lamar. Live stats will be available for all five games.
Red Raider Quick Hits
Looking towards another successful season, senior All-American Jessica Hartwell was one of 50 student-athletes named to the 2019 USA Softball National Collegiate Player of the Year Watch List, announced by USA Softball on Jan. 30, 2019. Hartwell was one of seven student-athletes from the Big 12 and just the second Red Raider in program history to make the preseason watch list. The only other Tech player to be named to the prestigious list was Emily Bledsoe back in 2012.
While Texas Tech returns eight of its nine position starters from 2018, the vast majority of the squad is made up of underclassmen. The Red Raiders boast 15 underclassmen and just 6 upperclassmen. Tech's 2019 crew carries seven freshmen, eight sophomores, three juniors and three seniors.
Sophomore Erin Edmoundson is the lone pitcher returning to the circle from last season. A member of the All-Big 12 Freshman Team, she led the Red Raider pitching staff with a 2.97 ERA, racked up a team-high 135 strikeouts and posted a 17-12 overall record.
Tech scored a trio of skilled transfers prior to the start of the 2019 season. The additions of junior pitcher Missy Zoch (DePaul), junior utility player Shelby Henderson (Lamar) and sophomore catcher Trenity Edwards (Missouri) will have immediate impacts on both the offensive and defensive side of the ball.
The Red Raiders return a pair of key outfielders to its 2019 roster. Redshirt sophomore Heaven Burton and redshirt junior Karli Hamilton will have a tremendous impact over the Texas Tech outfield after posting successful seasons just one year ago. Burton, who led Tech with 74 hits, garnered NFCA All-Region Third Team, Big 12 All-Freshman Team and NISC All-Region Team honors after making huge offensive strides over 52 starts and 57 appearances. Starting all 59 games last season, Hamilton returns for her junior season as a well-experienced member of the Tech outfield. The everyday right fielder racked up 60 hits last season, earning her All-Big 12 Second-Team honors. Hamilton, along with Burton, led the Big 12 and broke the school's single-season triples record with five on the year.
Seven scrappy freshmen will don a Texas Tech uniform for the first time at the Lone Start Collegiate Classic. The Red Raiders' freshman class includes one catcher, one utility player, one outfielder, two pitchers and two infielders.
Coming off its first 30-win season of the Gregory era, Texas Tech was ranked No. 38 by College Sports Madness in their 2019 Preseason Top 44 Countdown on Jan. 2, 2019.
Three new pitchers are set to step into the circle for the Red Raiders. Bringing a plethora of Experience, junior transfer Missy Zoch comes to Tech as a decorated right-hander from DePaul. Zoch is a two-time All-BIG EAST First-Team selection who compiled a 30-15 overall record in her first two seasons. She will step into the circle with 299 career strikeouts after leading the Blue Demon pitching staff to back-to-back BIG EAST Championship titles. Tech will also see quality innings from freshmen Morgan Hornback(Oregon City, HS) and Brooke Blackwell (Grandview HS).
Kelcy Leach became a solid piece of the Texas Tech foundation as a freshman in 2018. The only catcher returning in 2019, she was named to the All-Big 12 Freshman Team after making 37 starts behind the plate. She will be joined by freshman Grace Schmidtand sophomore transfer Trenity Edwards, who comes to Tech after playing her freshman season at Missouri. As a Tiger, she made 31 starts behind the plate in 41 appearances and finished her freshman season hitting .245 at the plate.
Making the transition from a Cardinal to a Red Raider, junior transfer Shelby Hendersonwill square off against the team she once called family. Henderson comes to Tech after an impressive two years at Lamar University. The junior from Keller, Texas, brings a high softball IQ and versatile experience to the squad. She started all but two games as a freshman and started all 56 games for the Cardinals last season. Recognized as an All-Southland Second-Team member in 2018, Henderson racked up 56 hits and set a program record with 44 RBI. She tied for the team lead with eight home runs and ranked within the top five with a .327 batting average.
The Texas Tech pitching staff is under new direction as assistant coach Letty Olivarezenters her first season with the Red Raiders. Olivarez, who serves as Tech's new pitching coach, joined the staff last August. She most recently served two seasons as an assistant coach at San Jose State. She was the co-head coach at Arizona State in 2016 when the Sun Devils made an NCAA Regional appearance and previously held stints at CSUN (2015), Stanford (2012-14) and Wisconsin (2011). A four-year letterwinner at Wisconsin, she will face her alma mater Saturday afternoon.
A Look at the Competition
Kicking off the 2019 season, the Mavericks and Red Raiders will meet for the first time on Friday, Feb. 8. Omaha returns 12 letterwinners from a squad that went 20-31 in 2018, including junior Emma Dargy who ranked third on the squad with a .273 batting average while blasting seven home runs. The Mavericks return their go-to pitcher Sydney Hampton, who will look to lead the squad once again after going 11-13 as a freshman. Omaha looks to new leadership as Amanda Eberhart beings her first season as head coach of the Mavericks.
Meeting first in 1983, Nebraska holds a 32-7 all-time series lead over Tech. The two teams last met on Feb. 7, 2015, when Nebraska posted an 11-3 win in six innings. After finishing ninth in the Big Ten, Nebraska wrapped up the 2018 season with a 31-23 overall record. The Huskers return standouts Tristen Edwards and Alyvia Simmons to the roster, along with sophomore pitcher Olivia Ferrell. Edwards, an All-Big Ten first-teamer, led the 2018 Huskers with 57 hits, 12 home runs, 43 RBI and a .356 average at the plate while Simmons, an All-Big Ten second-teamer, followed closely behind with a .346 batting average. In the circle, Ferrell returns as Nebraska's most experienced pitcher after making 20 starts and 31 appearances as a freshman. She went 9-8 in her freshman campaign and finished the year with a 4.35 ERA. The Huskers are led by Rhonda Revelle, who enters her 27th season as head coach at Nebraska.
Holding a slim 2-1 advantage, Texas Tech looks to defend its all-time series lead against the Badgers on Saturday. The Red Raiders won the last meeting in a 5-2 decision on Feb. 11, 2010. Wisconsin enters the 2019 season after making their second consecutive trip to the NCAA Tournament in 2018. The Badgers finished the season with a 29-23 overall record and 11-9 mark in Big Ten play. Returning for Wisconsin are standouts Haley Hestekin and Taylor Johnson – both earned All-Big Ten laurels in 2018. Johnson ranked third on the squad with a .293 average at the plate while Hestekin posted 96 strikeouts, a 2.63 ERA and 17-7 overall record in the circle. Boasting the highest winning percentage of any UW coach in its 21-year history, Yvette Healy enters her ninth season as head coach of the Badgers.
Tech heads into the weekend looking to even out its all-time series record against Lamar. Meeting just one time, the Cardinals hold a slim 1-0 series lead over the Red Raiders. The two teams met on Apr. 13, 1984 where Lamar stole a 1-0 victory away from Tech. Lamar looks to new leadership this season after going an even 28-28 in 2018. At the plate, the Cardinals return a big stick to the lineup in Kelly Meeuwsen. The senior finished the 2018 season with a .328 batting average, which ranked third on the team, and tallied 57 hits and eight home runs. Lamar begins a new era as head coach Amy Hooks enters her first season at the helm.
The first pitch of the 2019 season is slated for 2 p.m. on Friday at Scrap Yard Sports Complex in Conroe, Texas. Live stats will be available for all five tournament games. For all the latest news on the Texas Tech softball team, follow @TexasTechSB on Twitter and Instagram or visit TexasTech.com.