TECH HOSTS SOUTHERN UTAH, UTPA TO START 2009
The Texas Tech Red Raiders open up the 2009 campaign at home with a three-day round-robin event against the Southern Utah Thunderbirds and the UT-Pan American Broncos. The weekend will feature doubleheaders on Friday, Saturday and Sunday with Tech playing in both games of the doubleheader on Friday. Tech opens up play on Friday afternoon against Southern Utah with first pitch set for 1 p.m. Tech will then square off against UTPA at 4 p.m. to complete the day. The Red Raiders will face Southern Utah at 3 p.m. on Saturday and then end the weekend with a 3 p.m. game against UTPA on Sunday. Southern Utah and UTPA will face each other in the morning on both Saturday and Sunday prior to the Tech games.
OPENING DAY 2009
Texas Tech opens up its 60th season on the diamond in 2009 and a year that will feature a completely new look for what is the third-oldest sport on campus. Tech baseball falls only behind football and men's basketball as the longest running sport and dates all the way back to the 1926 season. Tech's first collegiate baseball game resulted in an 18-9 win over West Texas A&M. The 1926 squad featured just 14 players and was coached by E.Y. Freeland. The program was disbanded for 25 years before returning to action again in 1954, led by Beattie Feathers. In 59 seasons, the Red Raiders have compiled a record of 1,364-1,054 along with two regular-season conference titles and two conference tournament championships. On Opening Day, the Red Raiders have compiled a 36-23 overall record and a 23-5 mark when opening the season at home. Last season, Tech snapped a streak of nine consecutive season-opening wins by dropping a 4-0 decision to No. 19 Louisiana-Lafayette.
RED RAIDERS ON THE AIR
Texas Tech's entire schedule in 2009 including both regular-season and post-season action will be carried live on the flagship station of the Texas Tech Sports Network, KKAM-1340. The Texas Tech Sports Network begins its 16th season of full coverage of Red Raider Baseball. Robert Giovannetti will handle the play-by-play duties for the second year in a row and will be assisted by Matt Miller and Blayne Beal. Network pregame coverage begins 30 minutes prior to first pitch and concludes with a postgame show. Live audio streams will be available for all road games through RaiderVision All-Access while live video/audio will be available for all home games (excluding the Southern Utah game on Feb. 21).
SOUTHERN UTAH - AT A GLANCE
The Southern Utah Thunderbirds make their first trip to the South Plains for what will be the first meeting between the two schools on the diamond. Southern Utah, a member of the Summit League, finished the 2008 season with a 31-28 overall record and a 16-11 mark in conference play. The Thunderbirds finished in second place in the regular-season Summit League standings and had their NCAA Tournament hopes dashed with a loss to Oral Roberts in the Summit League Conference Tournament championship game.
The Thunderbirds return second baseman Keli'i Zablan who led the squad with a .382 average along with 82 hits and five triples. Zablan was named to the Brooks Wallace Award Watch List and was one of seven second baseman in the nation named to the 2009 Preseason All Ping!Baseball Team.
UT-PAN AMERICAN - AT A GLANCE
UT-Pan American will make its first trip to Lubbock since the 2002 season when the Red Raiders handed the Broncos a three-game series sweep. The first meeting against UTPA on Feb. 20 will mark the 36th all-time meeting between the two schools, with UTPA leading the series 20-16.
UTPA, one of nine independent teams in the country, finished the 2008 season with a 21-35 overall record. The Broncos return the services of senior catcher Jordan Rutenbar who tallied a .332 average last season along with 11 doubles, five home runs and 42 RBIs. Manny Mantrana was named head coach of the Broncos back on August 29, 2008.
Senior second baseman Willie Rueda has been named to three different preseason All-Big 12 teams including Baseball America, Rivals and the Lubbock Avalanche-Journal. Rueda was Tech's leading hitter in 2008 and paced the Big 12 Conference with 27 stolen bases.
The 2009 season marks the second year of the newly mandated uniform start date by the NCAA. NCAA Division I teams are not allowed to begin competition until Feb. 20.
NEW SKIPPER IN CHARGE
For the first time in 22 seasons, there will be a new skipper in charge of the Red Raiders. Dan Spencer, who joined the Tech program as the associate head coach in 2007, was named Tech's eighth head coach in school history on June 13, 2008. Spencer, who helped lead the Oregon State Beavers to back-to-back national titles in 2006 and 2007, replaced Larry Hays who spent 22 seasons in charge of Red Raider Baseball and is the school's all-time winningest coach.
WEEKEND ROTATION RETURNS
Texas Tech fans will get a glimpse of something that has not happened for the Red Raider Baseball team in over 30 years. The Red Raiders return their entire weekend rotation from 2008 and that is something that has not happened at Tech since at least 1979. Tech records prior to 1979 are held in the Southwest Collections Center on campus and unavailable for this research. Senior right-hander AJ Ramos, junior right-hander Nate Karns and sophomore right-hander Chad Bettis return to the squad after accounting for 33 of the team's 55 starts in 2008. All three players earned starting nods on opening weekend this season.
GUSTAFSON COMPLETES COACHING STAFF
The addition of Gustafson gives Spencer a staff that also includes assistant coach Trent Petrie (defense) and volunteer assistant Andy Jarvis (offense).
Ed Gustafson completed Dan Spencer's coaching staff back on July 1, 2008, when he was named as an assistant coach in charge of the pitching staff. Gustafson will also be in charge of Tech's national recruiting efforts meaning he will cover each state with the exception of Texas. Texas is handled by assistant coach Trent Petrie.
This year's coaching staff is the first Tech baseball staff since 1999 that does not feature at least one native Texan. Spencer, Gustafson and Jarvis all hail from the state of Washington, while Petrie is a Wisconsin native. The last staff to not have a native Texan was in 1999 with head coach Larry Hays (New Mexico) and assistants Frank Anderson (Kansas) and Greg Evans (Mississippi).
BUILDING WITH YOUTH
Dan Spencer's first team at Texas Tech will be a youthful one as 21 players on this year's squad are either freshmen or sophomores. The youthful group was far from an accident as Spencer and his staff made the early decision to build the program starting with freshmen in order to avoid the yearly turnover that has plagued the Red Raiders in the past. On this year's roster are 13 freshmen which is undoubtedly the largest freshman class at Tech in the last 25 years.
FROM SEA TO SHINING SEA
Texas Tech has wasted no time in making its recruiting a national effort as is evidenced by this year's roster. True freshmen Garrett Totten and Kevin Whitehead came to Lubbock from the state of Washington and both players should see significant playing time at shortstop and catcher, respectively. Freshman outfielder Kengray Fleming represents the East Coast as he comes to the Red Raiders from Louisa, Va., and is expected to be the starting center fielder.
Texas Tech will be well represented by local players in 2009 as the roster features eight players who are from Lubbock. Seniors AJ Ramos (Estacado), Brian Cloud (Cooper), Miles Morgan (Coronado) and Chris Richburg (Frenship) join juniors Taylor Ashby (Monterey) and Logan Leslie (Lubbock Christian High) along with sophomores Jeremy Mayo (Monterey) and Chad Bettis (Monterey).
RED RAIDERS PICKED EIGHTH
Texas Tech was projected to finish eighth in the final Big 12 standings according to a preseason poll of the league coaches. The Red Raiders will be in search of their first Big 12 Championship appearance since 2006.
Projected Order Of Finish
1. Texas A&M
4. Oklahoma State
8. Texas Tech
9. Kansas State
BETTIS GETS PRESEASON ATTENTION
Sophomore Chad Bettis garnered some well deserved preseason attention from Baseball America. Bettis was one Tech's top hurlers in 2008 and is poised for an even better sophomore season. Following last season, he spent the summer in the prestigious Cape Cod League where he played for the Falmouth Commodores and compiled a 3-0 record and a team best 2.68 ERA. He was named the No. 21 prospect (Baseball America) in the Cape Cod League at the conclusion of the summer and that helped him earn the No. 24 overall sophomore prospect (Baseball America) for the 2009 season. He was an eighth-round draft pick out of high school by the Houston Astros but decided to honor his commitment to Texas Tech.
HALL/KREDER LEAVE PROGRAM
Shortstop Chris Hall and catcher Monk Kreder left the program late in the fall and transferred in search of playing time for the 2009 season. Hall, who started every game of 2008 at shortstop, enrolled at Abilene Christian University in January, while Kreder joined the Howard Junior College squad this spring. Kreder made 42 starts behind the plate last season for the Red Raiders.
SENIORS SHOULD CARRY THE OFFENSIVE LOAD
Seniors Chris Richburg and Willie Rueda will be relied upon to be the offensive catalysts for the Red Raiders this season. Rueda led the team last year with a .361 average and in the process earned Honorable Mention All-Big 12 honors. Along with his team-best 70 hits, Rueda finished the year third on the team with 14 doubles and finished tied for the lead with three triples. His 27 stolen bases led both the team and the Big 12 Conference. Richburg, who missed 15 games due to injury, still managed to finish second on the team with a .345 average along with eight doubles, two triples and two home runs. He also became just the fifth player in school history to hit-for-the-cycle (vs. New Mexico State).
RAMOS PROGRESSING NICELY
Senior right-hander AJ Ramos is right on target to make what most would call a miraculousy recovery. Ramos was discovered to have a torn UCL in his right (throwing) elbow after the team returned to Lubbock from a weekend series last season at Kansas. Surgery was performed on April 30 (2008) and he began immediate rehabilitation under baseball athletic trainer Shawn Lindsey. Ramos began throwing to hitters in Tech's first team practice of the spring (Feb. 1) and has progressed so quickly that he will get the starting nod on Sunday against UT-Pan American. Ramos has recovered from this intricate surgery in nine months versus a typical recovery time that lasts anywhere from a year to 18 months.
Last season, the Red Raiders were forced to get accustomed to playing on the road after a pair of weekend home series were cancelled. This year, however, its entirely on purpose. Texas Tech will play 31 of its 56 regular-season games on the road and that means just 25 games within the friendly confines of Dan Law Field. Tech's youth will be forced to grow up on the road and hopefully that will develop into a strong team chemistry - something every successful team must have. The Red Raiders will get an extended tour of California at the end of February as the team will spend 11 days in the Golden State. Tech will play a weekend series at Cal State Northridge (2/27-3/1), a single game at Cal Riverside (3/3) and end the trip with four games at the Palm Springs Baseball Invitational. The 2009 season will bring about five Big 12 series on the road including trips to Baylor, Texas, Oklahoma, Missouri and Kansas State.
The 2009 Red Raiders got off to a good start in the classroom this past fall as 20 players were named to the Big 12 Honor Roll for the fall semester after earning a 3.0 GPA or higher. Players earning sports on the honor roll were: Mehdi Alavi, Taylor Ashby, Brian Cloud, Scott Erzinger, Colton Farrar, Brandon Foster, Nick Hanslik, Joey Kenworthy, Robbie Kilcrease, Scott LeJeune, Logan Leslie, Mason Macnoll, Kellen Monreal, Miles Morgan, Austin Quick, AJ Ramos, Chris Richburg, Jordan Stern, Brennan Stewart and Kevin Whitehead.
2010 SIGNING CLASS
Five members of the signing class were honored by Collegiate Baseball Magazine as preseason All-State selections: Barrett Barnes (INF), Charlie Martin (INF), James Altobelli (C) and Jamodrick McGruder (INF) and Dalton von Schamann (INF/RHP)
Texas Tech Head Coach Dan Spencer and his staff of Ed Gustafson and Trent Petrie brought together a signing class for 2010 that includes three junior college and six high school players. The group consists of six players from Texas, one from Oklahoma, one from Washington and one from Canada.
James Altobelli, Catcher, Plano, Texas
Barrett Barnes, INF, Sugar Land, Texas
Zach Fowler, LHP, Texarkana, Texas
Stephen Hagen, INF/OF, Lakebay, Washington
Jay Johnson, LHP, Sussex, New Brunswick, Canada
Charlie Martin, INF, Rockwall, Texas
Jamodrick McGruder, INF, Mesquite, Texas
Nick Popescu, UTL, Flower Mound, Texas
Dalton von Schamann, INF/RHP, Edmond, Okla.
RED RAIDERS ARE THINKING PINK
The Texas Tech Baseball program has adopted the Susan G. Komen Foundation as its philanthropy in 2008-09 and are looking forward to a long relationship with the organization. The Susan G. Komen Foundation's mission to raise awareness and help put an end to breast cancer, which takes the lives of thousands of women each year. Back in October, the squad served as race volunteers for the Lubbock Race For The Cure Event and this spring the Red Raiders will start a new tradition at Dan Law Field. Texas Tech Baseball and the Lubbock chapter of the Susan G. Komen Foundation will host an awareness day at Dan Law Field on Saturday, May 16. Tech players and coaches will wear special pink hats to help raise awareness for breast cancer research and take part in a variety of other activities.