Softball Red and Black Series Game One

Sophomore outfielder Peyton Blythe drops her bat after hitting the ball during the Texas tech Softball Team's first game in the Red to Black Series at 5:30 p.m. on Oct. 9, 2019 at Rocky Johnson Field. The Red Team defeated the Black Team, 4-0.

The Texas Tech softball team will head to Clearwater, Florida for the St. Pete/Clearwater Invitational on Thursday. Three members of the team discussed their opening weekend in New Orleans and provided a glimpse into the next competition.

Senior right-handed pitcher Missy Zoch threw 14.2 innings with 20 strikeouts to commence the season. Last year, Zoch said she had a rough start and was happy to begin this season well. 

“I just wanted to fight very hard,” Zoch said.

However, Zoch had a walk for every two innings pitched and said she wants to improve by relying on her movement pitches this season. Tech softball did not have many pitchers last year but now have five on the roster. She said she is glad to have range in the circle to allow breaks when needed. 

Zoch said playing schools outside of the Big 12 conference will prepare the Red Raiders for more competition. 

“We have some of the best (teams) in the country as well, but just playing other people early will super prepare us for conference,” Zoch said.

Sophomore Yvonne Whaley went 4-8 at the plate with two RBI in New Orleans with great defensive plays as well. The sweep at the Big Easy Classic consisted of shutouts, comebacks and one-run wins. She said every win is important. 

“As a team we celebrate everything from big wins and little wins,” Whaley said. “We are going to celebrate everything.” 

Whaley moved from the outfield to second base this season. She said transitioning into a new position is about adapting. She is shortening her throw and said she is always prepared to move positions. 

“If my team needs me in the infield, I’m going to the infield,” Zoch said. “If they need me in the outfield, I’m going to the outfield. If they need me on the mound, I will go on the mound.”

Along with changing positions, new infielders joined so everyone is learning how to work together and know their ranges, Whaley said. Tech’s pitching was good and allowed pop ups, creating a relationship of trust among the pitchers and fielders. 

Head coach Adrian Gregory said the team went into the tournament and did what it needed to start the season with a 5-0 record. She said the batters adapted well and when Tech went down in a game, the squad came back to win.

Gregory is not changing much during practice after the tournament. Her pitching needs minor improvement on mixed speeds, hitting the spot and maintaining defensive plays, she said. Overall, the Red Raiders are in the process of finding their new steady batters.

“We have a lot of weapons,” Gregory said. 

Redshirt senior Karli Hamilton recorded multiple RBI between infield gaps. Sophomore Peyton Blythe and redshirt sophomore Michaela Cochran are looking to be steady batters too, Gregory said. The next couple of tournaments the team will be finding a balance and matchup strategy. 

Gregory said knowing her team is important for power plays and certain games. She said athletes have different strengths and understanding who can do what wins games. However, she is not sure if she will have a certain set of starters for every game. She will be shifting them for a while.  

Gregory’s mindset is clear for the Clearwater Invitational.

“Restock and reload, lets go,” she said.  

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