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Texas Tech Begins 23rd Season of Softball in Louisiana
 

Feb. 5, 2014

Texas Tech Notes  |  Gameday Central  |  2014 Season Preview

LUBBOCK, Texas - Texas Tech will hit the diamond for its 23rd season of softball Thursday evening when the Red Raiders open the Lions Classic against host Southeastern Louisiana in a 5 p.m. first pitch at North Oak Park. The season opener will be the first of six games for Tech on the weekend as the Red Raiders will also take on Akron, Nicholls State, Buffalo, UMKC and Texas Southern as well.

TEXAS TECH ON OPENING DAY
The Red Raiders will look to open 2014 with a victory for the fifth-straight season on Thursday evening when Texas Tech and Southeastern Louisiana kick off the Lion Classic. The Red Raiders are 10-8 all-time in season openers after routing Central Florida, 12-4, to open the 2013 season at the Sportco Kick-off Classic hosted by UNLV. Tech is 4-0 in season openers under head coach Shanon Hays with victories over Wisconsin (2010), No. 16 BYU (2011), San Diego State (2012) and UCF (2013). This will be the first time Tech and Southeastern Louisiana have ever opened a season against each other. Tech has not opened a season in the state of Louisiana since 1996 when the Red Raiders took part in the Mardi Gras Classic hosted by Louisiana-Monroe.

INSIDE THE SERIES
• Southeastern Louisiana - Texas Tech will be facing the Lions for just the second time in program history Thursday evening. Southeastern Louisiana won the previous meeting between the two schools with a 2-0 shutout on March 12, 1998, at the H.I.T. Tournament held in Spring, Texas.
• Akron - Friday's first game of a doubleheader will be the first meeting all-time between Texas Tech and Akron.
• Nicholls State - The Red Raiders are 1-1 all-time against the Colonels, who took an 8-0 victory over Texas Tech on Feb. 24, 1996, before falling, 3-1, on Feb. 13, 1999. Both games came at neutral sites with the first being at the Mardi Gras Classic hosted by Louisiana-Monroe and the second being at the UT Arlington Tournament.
• Buffalo - Texas Tech and the Bulls will face off for the second-straight year on Friday morning. The Red Raiders, facing Buffalo for the first time in school history last season, run-ruled the Bulls, 8-0, on March 16 during the San Diego State Classic.
• UMKC - The Kangaroos are an opponent Texas Tech is very familiar with after facing UMKC five times during the 2013 season. The Red Raiders run-ruled UMKC in all five games to improve to 9-1 all-time in the series that dates back to 2000. Tech head coach Shanon Hays is a perfect 8-0 all-time against UMKC as the Red Raiders also swept a three-game set in 2010.
• Texas Southern - Despite playing in the same state, Texas Tech and Texas Southern are meeting for just the second time in program history on Sunday. The Red Raiders routed the Lady Tigers, 18-0, on Feb. 27, 2010, in a neutral site contest hosted by UT Arlington.

TALLEY LOOKING FOR FOURTH-STRAIGHT OPENING DAY START
Brittany Talley may accomplish a rare feet before even stepping into the circle on Thursday night. The senior left-hander has earned the opening day start for the Red Raiders in each of her three seasons and will look to make it four in a row against Southeastern Louisiana. Talley is 1-0 with a 4.27 earned-run average all-time on opening day as she garnered no decisions against BYU and San Diego State in 2011 and 2012 before picking up the win in an impressive outing last year against Central Florida.

RED RAIDERS BOAST LARGEST FRESHMEN CLASS IN SCHOOL HISTORY
In order to get back to the postseason, Texas Tech head coach Shanon Hays will have to rely on the largest freshmen class in school history. The 11-member freshmen class breaks the previous school record of eight freshmen from both the 2004 and 2010 seasons. It is also the largest freshmen class in the Big 12 this season as Tech has four more freshmen then Texas and five more than Baylor, Kansas and Oklahoma State. The group will be expected to not just fill a few roles but make an impact early as Tech tries to replace all three positions in the outfield along with holes at first base and catcher as well.

TEXAS TECH RANKS THIRD IN WINS UNDER HAYS
Success has been no stranger to the Red Raiders under Shanon Hays. Under the Lubbock native, the Red Raiders have flourished, winning 151 games in four seasons which already makes Hays the winningest coach in program history. Texas Tech's success during this stretch has lifted the program from the bottom of the Big 12 Conference standings as the Red Raiders are tied with Baylor as the third-winningest school the past four seasons. Tech is one of just three conference teams to record four straight 30-win seasons, joining the likes of Oklahoma and Texas.

RED RAIDERS TO BE POWERED IN THE CIRCLE
Texas Tech associate head coach Aly Sartini will have possibly the deepest and most experienced pitching staff of her tenure this season as the Red Raiders return a pair of veterans in senior Brittany Talley and junior Cara Custer along with experienced sophomore Gretchen Aucoin. The staff will get an added boost, though, from the emergence of junior Chandler Moore, who, according to Sartini, had the best fall of her collegiate career. The four returners represent 94 percent of Tech's total innings from 2013 and 29 of the 30 victories from a year ago as well. They will be joined in the circle by freshman Cassie McClure, the reigning Texas 4A-5A Player of the Year, and redshirt freshman Mattison Maisel.

RED RAIDERS ADD PAIR OF NJCAA ALL-AMERICANS IN BELSHE, HOPSON
Similar to years past, Texas Tech once again turned to the junior college level during the offseason to fill needs around the diamond, bringing in four transfers including two NJCAA All-Americans in Lea Hopson and Kristi Belshe. Hopson, who starred the past two seasons at College of Southern Idaho, was among the top junior college hitters around the country as she hit .431 in 2013 with 12 home runs and 46 RBI. Belshe, meanwhile, led the NJCAA with a .590 batting average in 2013 while playing for Lake Land College in Illinois. Belshe was also the national leader in hits (111) and on-base percentage as well (.645) while also ranking third in doubles (26), runs scored (94) and slugging percentage (1.005). The pair mark the seventh and eighth junior college All-Americans to sign with Tech under Shanon Hays.

CAMELLO RETURNS UP THE MIDDLE AFTER STELLAR FRESHMAN SEASON
Following an impressive debut in 2013, Samantha Camello will be looking for more of the same this season after hitting .311 while starting in all 56 games a year ago. The Temecula, Calif. native became only the sixth starting freshmen in school history to hit over .300 in her rookie campaign, joining the likes of Mikey Kenney (2010), Stephanie Drewry (2009), Ashley Parker (2004), Sandy Butler (1998) and Paula Workman (1997). Camello, who split time between shortstop and second base as a freshman, led a powerful Tech offense during Big 12 play with a .275 average while playing in one of the nation's top pitching conferences. She will likely be Texas Tech's opening day shortstop for the second-straight season.

HAYS TO BECOME LONGEST TENURED COACH IN PROGRAM HISTORY
Already the winningest coach in program history, Texas Tech skipper Shanon Hays will add another career achievement to his resume in 2014. The fifth-year head coach needs 28 games to catch Renee Luers-Gillespie for the longest-tenured Tech coach all-time as he enters the 2014 season having already led the Red Raiders in 227 contests over his four seasons, 28 shy of Gillespie's 255 from 1996-2000. Hays is currently third all-time in the Tech record book as he also trails Bobby Reeves (2001-04) by eight games as well. He will pass Reeves on Feb. 15 against Texas A&M-Corpus Christi and then Gillespie on March 15 when the Red Raiders face UNLV in the Titan Classic.


 

 

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