#29 Texas Tech Softball Preview

Texas Tech Red Raiders

Overall Rank: #29
Conference Rank: #5 Big 12
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Head Coach Shanon Hays’ leadership continues to improve the Texas Tech Red Raider program.  In 2012, his third season, Coach Hays guided the Red Raiders to the second of back-to-back 40 win seasons and into the NCAA post season for the third straight year.  Texas Tech finished fifth in Big 12 last spring, going 13-10, posting an above .500 conference record since 2001.  As Coach Hays’ squad enters 2013, he is just 18 wins short of being the all-time winningest coach in Tech history.  “We have many unanswered questions and new faces coming into the 2013 campaign. We've lost five three-year starters from our lineup who won more games than any other Tech teams over a three year span. However, we return the middle of our lineup and have added some really talented kids to our roster,” the Red Raider skipper said. The team from Lubbock will go into 2013 with 10 letter winners and 10 newcomers, eight freshmen and two JUCO transfers.  The middle of the lineup that helped the 2012 team break the school’s single season home run record returns the middle of the lineup and top two pitchers.

2012: 33-23, 12-16
2012 Postseason: NCAA
Coach: Shanon Hays, 4th Season

Field Players:
Three All-Conference seniors will lead the way for the Red Raiders in 2013.  Designated Player Adriana Perez hit .351 with 15 home runs and 55 RBI and was just one home run short of Sandy James’ single season record.  Center fielder Mikey Kenney comes back after hitting .314 with 13 bombs, setting the Red Raider career home run record.  Sandy James plays 1B and last year she hit .303, mashed 11 dingers, collecting 44 RBI.  Coach Hays is counting on this veteran group, “Sandy and Mikey will battle it out to see who leaves Tech as the all-time home run hitter.  Their collective leadership is a must for us to take another step up in becoming a top ten program.”

Excited about his 2013 pitching staff, Hays said, “Where we should be better than ever is in the circle. We are counting on Cara Custer being a dominant type pitcher this year liked she showed at times as a frosh. Brittany Talley compliments her well and we need her to have another solid year. Freshman Gretchen Aucoin has the ability to be a big time pitcher and how quickly she develops could determine just how good we could be by the end of the season. She is a hard throwing six foot tall, athletic kid who needs to keep developing.”

Sophomore Cara Custer carried the majority of the load for Tech in 2012, going 25-11 with a 2.33 ERA.  She fanned 156 in 210 innings.  Lefty junior Brittany Talley provides a nice change of pace to Custer and was a solid number two, finishing 12-5 with a 2.21 ERA.  This pair threw 340 of the team’s 387 innings.   Aucoin was the Mississippi Press Register 2012 Female Athlete of the Year and played club ball out of Southern California.

Who to Watch:
Among the large group of new faces this season at Tech there are a few who have the potential to make a significant impact. Coach Hays talked about his newcomers, “We need a couple of freshmen to step in right away and contribute. Short stop Samantha Carmelo from San Diego should be a super player for us as she continues to get stronger. We will have to rely on freshman Lexie Elkins to be our everyday catcher. She is an athletic and strong 5'10 kid who could be really special behind the plate and possesses a lot of pop with the bat. She will be thrown into the fire from day one.  Freshmen utility player Sydney Tapia will also be counted on to fill in and play in the outfield along with Kenney and newcomer Shelby Johnson. Johnson was a two time all American at Chattanooga State JC who won the NJCAA Nationals this past year. She is our most potent base stealer who led the country with 87 stolen bases last year. In the infield we will have Camelo, junior third basemen Taylor Powell, and Brooke Scott who is a redshirt frosh transfer from the University of Central Florida.”

Final Projection:
The Red Raider program trajectory has definitely been going up.  With the return of many of his big sticks and the addition of Johnson and Dunlap, the Coach Hays’ offense should continue to deliver rewriting the school’s record book.  The addition of Aucoin to the solid and experienced pitching staff is likely to help Tech continue to show improvement in the tough Big 12.  Look for Coach Hays and the Red Raiders to post another 40 win season and reach the NCAA post season for the fourth consecutive year.

Projected Postseason: NCAA Softball Tournament

Returning Leaders:
At Bats: Adriana Perez, DP, 171
Hits: Adriana Perez, DP, 60
Home Runs: Adriana Perez, DP, 15
RBIs: Adriana Perez, DP, 55
Runs: Mikey Kenney, OF, 45
Stolen Bases: Mikey Kenney, OF, 16

Wins: Cara Custer, P, 25
Innings Pitched: Cara Custer, P, 210.1
Strikeouts: Cara Custer, P, 156
Saves: Cara Custer, P, 3

Madness 2013 NPF Draft Rankings:
#16 Adriana Perez


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