LUBBOCK (KCBD) – The start of team practice began today for the Texas Tech baseball team, and although the 70-degree weather made it feel like the middle of the season, it was the first time the Red Raiders had hit the field as a team since the end of fall practices in October.
"It's a pretty good day," head coach Dan Spencer said about the weather. "We are going to enjoy it. We are fortunate to live in this part of the country and have this kind of weather in January. I'm hoping it is this nice for our (season) opener."
Texas Tech returns 12 players off the 2010 squad that finished 28-29 overall and 13-14 in the Big 12 Conference, placing the Red Raiders in fifth place – best finish since 2004.
The Red Raiders also welcome back the big bats of returning All-Big 12 selection Scott LeJeune (.323, 28 2B, 58 RBI) and Freshmen All-Americans Barrett Barnes (.341, 14 HR, 53 RBI) and Jamodrick McGruder (.322, 7 HR, 23 SB).
In fact, Tech returns four of its top five hitters from a year ago – also welcoming back third baseman Nick Popescu (.324, 6 HR, 41 RBI) – as Tech led the conference in hitting during league play for the second year in a row last season.
Tech did lose its top two pitchers from last season to the 2010 Major League Baseball Draft as right-handed pitcher Chad Bettis signed with the Colorado Rockies (2nd Round) and righty Bobby Doran signed a professional contract with the Houston Astros (4th Round).
But Tech brought in an arsenal of pitchers, including Trey Masek (Fr., RHP), Cory Bafidis (So., LHP), Jerad McCrummen (So., RHP), Aaron Corwin (So., RHP), Daniel Coulombe (Jr., LHP), Andre Wheeler (Fr., LHP), Jamen Parten (So., RHP), Hayden Holub (Jr., RHP), Taylor Christian (So., RHP) and Zach Johnson (Fr., RHP).
Texas Tech is in pursuit of its first NCAA Regional appearance since 2004, and that journey began today as the Red Raiders have three weeks of preparation until Opening Day when they will take on Western Michigan at 6 p.m. on Feb. 18, at Dan Law Field in the first day of the Red Raider Classic.
Upcoming Practice Schedule:
Saturday – 11 a.m.
Sunday – 1 p.m.
Monday, Jan. 31st – 2:15 p.m.
Tuesday, Feb. 1st – OFF
Wednesday, Feb. 2nd – 2:15 p.m.
Thursday, Feb. 3rd – 2:15 p.m.
Friday, Feb. 4th – 2:15 p.m.
Saturday, Feb. 5th – TBA
Sunday, Feb. 6th – 1 p.m.