No. 10 Texas tests Red Raiders' improvement
The Texas Tech softball team already has exceeded its victory totals from each of the past three seasons. Now Big 12 play starts, and the Red Raiders begin to find out how much they've really improved.
Tech (26-8) opens the conference schedule with a three-game series against No. 10 Texas (27-5-1) at 4:30 p.m. Friday, noon Saturday and noon Sunday in Austin. In the Big 12 preseason coaches poll, Texas was forecast for third place and Tech for sixth out of the seven teams.
Texas has won 18 of the past 20 games against Tech, including a three-game series sweep last year in Lubbock. But the Red Raiders have shown promise under first-year coach Craig Snider, whose time as an assistant coach at Florida State (2011-19) included seven NCAA super regionals, three Women's College World Series trips and the national title in 2018. He spent the past three years as an assistant at Texas A&M.
Tech has shown offensive balance, led by first baseman Ellie Bailey, batting .359 with team highs of 11 home runs and 34 runs batted in. Among the other productive hitters have been catcher Kailey Wyckoff (.453-6-25), designated player Makinzy Herzog (.417-7-28), second baseman Arriana Villa (.378-6-24), center fielder Peyton Blythe (.378-7-20) and shortstop Alanna Barraza (.321-6-20).
Tech tuned up for Big 12 play with an 8-0 victory Wednesday against Abilene Christian University. Sage Hoover (13-0) threw a five-hit shutout and Villa and Bailey both launched two-run homers.
Track & field
Texas Tech hosts the Masked Rider Open, the first of its two home meets during the outdoor season, on Friday and Saturday at the Fuller Track Complex and throws field.
Friday's schedule has the discus competitions at 1 p.m. and the shot put at 4 p.m. The rest of the meet is on the second day. The 10,000-meter races will be run at 8 a.m. and 8:35 a.m. Saturday. Field-event start times are 1 p.m. and 3 p.m., and the rest of the running events are scheduled from 2 p.m. to 7:25 p.m.
The Tech men finished fifth and the Tech women tied for 24th two weeks ago at the NCAA indoor championships. The first ranking of the outdoor season by the U.S. Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association is scheduled for release on Monday.
Tech coach Wes Kittley said most of the Red Raiders' top performers will participate in one event, but not multiple events. They are gearing up for the four-day Texas Relays that start Wednesday in Austin.
Ruta Lasmane, a four-time first-team all-American in the triple jump, and Sidney Sapp, last year's Big 12 outdoor champion in the high jump, remain sidelined. Lasmane, yet to compete this year, has been dealing with a stress reaction in her back. Sapp has had a shin injury.
"Ruta's doing really good. Sidney's doing really good," Kittley said. "We're hoping they're (medically) released soon."
Two of Tech's top performers, Jacolby Shelton and Ryleigh Redding, are expected to compete Saturday after missing the Big 12 indoor meet with hamstring injuries. Shelton will run the 200 meters, Kittley said, and Redding will compete in the pole vault.
Texas Tech, which started Big 12 play last week with losses at No. 22 Oklahoma and No. 17 Oklahoma State, plays its conference home opener Friday against No. 20 Kansas. The match, originally scheduled for 6 p.m., has been moved to noon at the McLeod Tennis Center on account of less gusty wind forecast earlier in the day.
Tech (10-6, 0-2) has played 10 matches away from Lubbock since its last match on Feb. 5. The Red Raiders are 3-1 at home.
Kansas (11-3, 2-2) has lost only to No. 14 Texas, No. 10 Iowa State and No. 16 Michigan. The Jayhawks beat the Red Raiders 4-0 in a non-conference match on Feb. 18.
Tech hosts Kansas State (2-14, 0-4) in another conference home match at 10 a.m. Sunday.
Texas Tech swingman Elijah Fisher has had his name entered into the NCAA transfer portal, a Tech official confirmed Thursday to the Avalanche-Journal.
Fisher, a true freshman this season from Toronto, played in 28 games and averaged 3.3 points and 2.0 rebounds per game. He averaged 12.1 minutes per game.
Other Tech players whose names are known to be in the transfer portal are center Fardaws Aimaq and forwards Robert Jennings and K.J. Allen. Players with their names in the portal are not obligated to transfer, but can evaluate their options with other programs.
The portal window is open for 60 days ending on May 11.
Texas Tech lost its second key player to the NCAA transfer portal when Kansas announced the addition on Thursday of former Red Raiders outside hitter Reagan Cooper, who was second on the team last season in kills.
Cooper, a 6-foot-1 graduate of Dallas Parish Episcopal, had 285 kills for an average of 2.88 per set. She also was credited with 67 digs and 42 blocks. She's going to Kansas as a graduate transfer.
Last week, Houston announced the addition of graduate transfer Kenna Sauer, who each of the past two years was the Texas Tech kills leader and a first-team all-Big 12 honoree.
The Red Raiders finished 16-13 last season and 5-11 in the Big 12.
This article originally appeared on Lubbock Avalanche-Journal: Tech sports roundup: No. 10 Texas tests Red Raiders' improvement