Texas Tech softball started the season at 3-2 after the Century Link Classic hosted from Friday through Sunday.
The Red Raiders will now travel to Puerto Vallarta, Mexico, for the Puerto Vallarta College Challenge.
The Red Raiders will face Cal State Fullerton, Florida Gulf Coast, Mississippi State and Fresno State. The contest against Cal State Fullerton Titans starts at 4 p.m. Thursday.
Tech coach Adrian Gregory said this is the most exciting season for her.
“You’re out of the mix of trying to talk kids into trusting you. Now they trust you, and they believe in what we’re doing. They’ve seen some production out of it,” Gregory said. “I’m really enjoying our kids. I think they’re working really hard. They’re seeming to enjoy the game again, and in the first two seasons, we weren’t really in that mix, because we were kind of in work mode. When you play with some loose muscles and enjoyment, then that’s when it gets really fun.”
The Titans are 1-3 on the season after the Easton Invitational in Fullerton, California. After a canceled game against Ole Miss, they lost to Utah State, 7-3. Cal State Fullerton then defeated North Dakota State, 4-2, but was shut out by Pacific twice, 6-0 and 3-0, according to Cal-State Fullerton Athletics.
The Titans have 13 votes in the ESPN/USA Softball poll and are ranked No. 25 in the NCAA Women’s Softball RPI rankings.
Tech sophomore infielder Jessica Hartwell was a standout player during the fall slate, Gregory said.
“Jessica Hartwell, I mean that kid had a fantastic fall,” Gregory said. “I mean if you watched her play, it was like a fireworks show. I think she had eight home runs in eight games, and she’s just incredible. There’s just a lot of vibrancy right now. There’s a lot of senior leadership, some kids that are seasoned, and we have young energy within our sophomore, freshman class.”
Tech will face the Florida Gulf Coast Eagles at 7 p.m. later that day. The Eagles are 4-0 on the season after defeating the LIU Brooklyn Blackbirds four times in Fort Myers, Florida, and only allowing one run, according to Florida Gulf Coast Athletics.
The Eagles are ranked No. 100 in the NCAA Women’s Softball RPI rankings. The Eagles also finished 13-5 in conference play.
Last season, the Eagles finished with a 32-27 and 23-18 record at home, a 6-7 away record and a 3-2 neutral record. The Eagles also won two games in the ASUN Softball Championship in the postseason against Kennesaw State.
Senior right-handed pitcher Dominique Alcocer, a native of Mexico City, said she is excited for the trip to Mexico.
“I will see my parents, and I’m really excited, and I think it’s going to be fun to see how my teammates speak Spanish,” Alcocer said. “So, it’s going to be really fun.”
The Red Raiders will then face Mississippi State at 7 p.m. Friday. The Bulldogs started the season at 3-2 after the Bulldog Classic in Starkville, Mississippi.
The Bulldogs defeated Georgia State, 4-0, and then Stephen F. Austin, 2-0. Mississippi State then fell to Western Kentucky, 1-0, according to Mississippi State Athletics.
The Bulldogs then defeated Stephen F. Austin in the rematch game, 2-1. However, Mississippi State lost the rematch game against Georgia State, 3-1. The Bulldogs were ranked at No. 31 in the NCAA Women’s Softball RPI rankings at the end of the 2016 season, according to Mississippi State Athletics.
“I think it’s a great opportunity just to play in such a beautiful atmosphere and great competition, getting to play an SEC school, Cal-State Fullerton,” junior infielder Allison Knopp said. “I just think it’s another game to see good pitching, see good hitters to face our pitchers and get a few wins down there.”
Last year, Mississippi State went 26-31 and 3-21 in conference play. The Bulldogs also went 16-14 at home and 3-13 in away games, according to Mississippi State Athletics.
Fresno State will be the final opponent Tech faces in Mexico after a rematch game against Cal-State Fullerton, which will be at 9 a.m. Saturday, according to Tech Athletics.
Fresno State is 4-1 on the season after defeating Indiana, Purdue, San Diego and Stanford and falling to No. 9 Oregon. Fresno State is ranked No. 21 in the USA Today/NFCA Coaches poll, has 21 votes in the ESPN/USA Softball poll and is ranked No. 21 in the NCAA Women’s Softball RPI rankings, according to Fresno State Athletics.
Fresno State’s last victory was against Stanford, when it defeated the Cardinals, 24-8. In that win, which included six home runs, eight runs were scored in the first inning.
Fresno State finished with a 42-12-1 record in the 2016 season and had a 22-1 conference record. It was also 17-2 at home and 12-1 in away games, according to Fresno State Athletics. The game against Fresno State will start at 9 a.m. Sunday and will close out the Puerto Vallarta College Challenge for Tech.
Source: Daily Toreador