LUBBOCK, Texas – After an extra week of waiting, the Texas Tech softball team is set to open the 2021 season in College Station, Texas at the Texas A&M Invitational this weekend.
The Red Raiders open the tournament on Saturday morning against Colorado State followed by Central Arkansas in the afternoon. Tech will face host team and former Big 12 rival Texas A&M on Sunday afternoon before a squaring off in a rematch against Central Arkansas in the night cap. Tech closes the tournament Monday morning against Colorado State.
RED RAIDER QUICK HITS
Sami Ward was named the eighth head coach in program history on Oct. 16, 2020. She comes to Texas Tech from her alma mater, Loyola Marymount, where she spent the last five seasons as head coach. Ward led the Lions to a 138-109 record in five seasons and was named West Coast Conference Coach of the Year three times (2016, 2018, 2019). Ward brought her LMU staff with her to Lubbock, including her husband, associate head coach Randy Ward and pitching coach Brittany Miller.
Texas Tech returns 16 players from a season ago, including eight seniors. Karli Hamilton and Missy Zoch each decided to use their extra year of eligibility to return to Lubbock for a final season. Hamilton is a former All-American and Zoch is one of the Red Raiders top pitchers. The Red Raiders also boast seniors Heaven Burton, Erin Edmoundson, Kelcy Leach, Breanna Russell and Maddie Westmoreland.
Edmoundson and Russell were each named to Softball America's Top 100 players list in the offseason. Edmoundson came in at No. 35 while Russell ranked 81st on the list. Edmoundson led the Texas Tech pitching staff in ERA (1.42), victories (10), appearances (18), complete games (5), shutouts (2) and strikeouts (93) in 2020. She pitched her first career perfect game on March 7 against Fairleigh Dickinson, the third perfect game in program history. Russell had a career year in 2020, leading the Red Raiders with a .355 batting average and 27 hits. She slugged .605 with five doubles, one triple and four home runs in her junior season.
The Red Raiders have been on the rise the last few seasons after an impressive 2019 which saw the Red Raiders take LSU to a deciding game in the Baton Rouge Regional before falling to the No. 10 Tigers. Texas Tech followed it up with a 17-9 campaign in 2020 before the season was cut short. The Red Raiders earned ranked wins over No. 15 Georgia and No. 18 South Carolina in the St. Pete Clearwater Invitational. Though Texas Tech was picked to finish fifth in the Big 12, all four teams picked ahead of them are ranked in the preseason Top 25, and the Red Raiders have received votes in nearly every preseason poll.
Colorado State leads the series against Tech 6-2, the last meeting between the two teams came in 2017 when the Rams defeated the Red Raiders 4-3 in Fort Collins, Colorado.
Texas Tech and Central Arkansas have only met twice before both resulting in Red Raider wins. The two met most recently last season when the Red Raiders edged the Bears 1-0 on opening weekend in New Orleans, Louisiana.
Former Big 12 rival Texas A&M leads the all-time series over the Red Raiders 29-11. The last meeting came in 2018 when Texas A&M won a 9-5 decision over Tech in College Station.