Feb. 28, 2013
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LUBBOCK, Texas - After three weeks on the road to start the season, Texas Tech opens its home slate this weekend with the Texas Tech Invitational held at Rocky Johnson Field. The Red Raiders (10-5) will face both Jackson State and McNeese State in doubleheaders on Friday and Saturday before battling Northern Colorado in a 1 p.m. first pitch Sunday afternoon to close the weekend.
The tournament opens a 12-game homestand for the Red Raiders, who will play seven games next weekend in the Jeannine McHaney Memorial Classic. It is the longest homestand for Tech this season as the Red Raiders will not return to Rocky Johnson Field again until April 5 to open a three-game series with Kansas.
INSIDE THE JACKSON STATE SERIES
Jackson State will make its second trip to Lubbock this weekend as the Tigers were swept over three games in 2010 in the first-ever meeting between the two schools. The Red Raiders won by a combined score of 31-3 as all three games ended via run-rule.
INSIDE THE MCNEESE STATE SERIES
Texas Tech and McNeese State will meet this weekend for the fourth time in school history and just the first time since 2000 when the two schools met in the Troy Cox Classic held in Las Cruces, N.M. The Red Raiders won both games of the 2000 series to take a 2-1 all-time advantage over the Cowgirls. McNeese took a 4-2 victory at home in the first-ever meeting on Feb. 24, 1996. This is McNeese's first-ever trip to Lubbock.
INSIDE THE NORTHERN COLORADO SERIES
Like McNeese, Texas Tech and Northern Colorado will also be meeting for the fourth time in history as the Red Raiders control a 2-1 all-time advantage in the series. Northern Colorado took the previous meeting between the two schools with a 6-2 victory on March 15, 2009, at the San Diego State Classic. Tech previously took 3-0 and 12-2 victories in 2005 and 2006 with both coming at neutral sites.
TEXAS TECH IN HOME OPENERS
The Red Raiders are 11-6 all-time in home openers since softball returned as an intercollegiate sport in 1996. Texas Tech has won its home opener in each of the last three seasons with a 5-0 victory over Maine in 2010, an 8-3 win over Utah Valley in 2011, and then a 7-2 rout of Binghamton a year ago. The tournament marks the second-straight year where Tech has opened its home slate on the first weekend in March.
The Red Raiders will continue their 12-game homestand next weekend with the third-annual Jeannine McHaney Memorial Classic. Texas Tech will host UMKC, Indiana-Purdue Fort Wayne (IPFW), and Troy over four days while UT Arlington will also make the trip to Lubbock but will not face the Red Raiders during the event.
PEREZ ON PACE FOR RECORD SEASON
Heading into her senior season, Adriana Perez consistently has said she wanted her final year in scarlet and black to be special. Through 15 games this season, Perez has lived up to that statement as she shares the Big 12 Conference lead with eight home runs and is second with 21 RBI. She hit four home runs alone in a doubleheader sweep of UMKC and Penn State on Feb. 16 en route to finishing with 14 total RBI over the five game weekend at the Troy Cox Classic. With just over a fifth of the season complete, Perez is currently on pace to shatter the Texas Tech single-season home run record of 16 set by Sandy James in 2011. The single-season mark for RBI belongs to Kim Martinez, who drove in 70 runners in 1997. Perez has now hit 23 home runs in just over a season at Tech, moving her into a tie for fourth all-time on the school's career chart.
JOHNSON CONTINUES TO REACH BASE
Through 15 games this season, Shelby Johnson has done exactly what Shanon Hays envisioned when he recruited the junior college transfer - reach base. The Jefferson, Ga. native is the only Red Raider to reach base in all 15 games this season as she is third on the team with a .446 on-base percentage. Johnson is hitting .333 on the year with two doubles and 14 runs scored to go along with 10 walks. A year after finishing second nationally at the NJCAA level, Johnson has also given Texas Tech a threat on the bases as she is a perfect 8-for-8 on steal attempts this year.
CUSTER BEGINS TO FIND FORM FROM 2012
After three complete-game performances at the Texas Shootout, Cara Custer seems poised for another strong season in the circle as the right-hander went 3-0 last weekend with no earned runs over 21.2 innings. Custer held Texas State to just four hits in the tournament opener Friday before coming back with a one-hit shutout of UT Arlington the following day. She also gave up three unearned runs in first inning of Sunday's finale against Sam Houston State before settling down to frustrate the Bearkats the rest of the way. The three outings plus one brief relief appearance cut Custer's earned-run average in half as she now boosts a team-low 2.12 ERA to go along with a 4-1 record entering this weekend.
Texas Tech's 10-5 start to its season is similar to early into last season when the Red Raiders ended the Texas Shootout with an 11-5 record entering its home opener. The Red Raiders closed the 2012 season 41-17 overall with a selection to the NCAA Washington Regional.
The Red Raiders will look to continue their success in non-conference action under Shanon Hays this weekend as Texas Tech is 106-22 against out-of-conference foes in his three-plus seasons.
Texas Tech enters this weekend ranked second in the Big 12 with 19 home runs already this season, three less than conference leader Oklahoma.
The Red Raiders also rank fourth in the league with a .326 batting average and third with 101 runs scored.
Sandy James became the Texas Tech all-time leader in walks last weekend as she has now drawn 86 over her career, one more than previous record holder Emily Bledsoe (2009-12).
After three doubles last weekend at the Texas Shootout, James now shares the Big 12 lead as she now has eight on the season which is tied Taylor Thom of Texas. The Kilgore, Texas native had previously recorded nine doubles in each of the last two seasons.
Mikey Kenney enters this weekend ranked among the Big 12 leaders in runs scored (T-5th), total bases (5th), slugging percentage (9th), and on-base percentage (10th). The senior has reached base in 13 of 15 games so far as well.
In the circle, Cara Custer and Brittany Talley both rank among the conference leaders in most pitching categories, including wins, innings pitched, strikeouts, appearances, and games started.
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