Provided by Texas Tech Athletics
Texas Tech returns to the friendly confines of Rocky Johnson Field on Wednesday evening when the Red Raiders host North Texas in a 6 p.m. doubleheader. Tech enters this week coming off a seven-game road trip to the West Coast where the Red Raiders finished 4-3 overall to improve to 22-9 on the season. This will be the third-straight season where the Red Raiders and Mean Green (19-8) have met on the softball diamond as the two teams have split neutral site contests the past two years. This will be North Texas' first trip to Lubbock since the 2009 season.
ON THE HORIZON
The Red Raiders will have little time off before returning to Rocky Johnson Field Friday evening to start a three-game series against Texas State. Texas Tech will host the Bobcats at 7 p.m. Friday before 4 p.m. and 12 p.m. first pitches on Saturday and Sunday to close the series. The three-game series is the final non-conference action for the Red Raiders until opening Big 12 Conference play against No. 12 Baylor on March 28-30 at Rocky Johnson Field.
INSIDE THE NORTH TEXAS SERIES
Wednesday night's opener against the Mean Green will mark the eighth all-time meeting between Texas Tech and North Texas as the two teams will be meeting for the third consecutive season. North Texas owns a 4-3 advantage in the series with wins in four of the last five meetings, including a 5-3 victory on Feb. 22 last year in San Marcos. The Mean Green will be making their first visit to Lubbock since the 2009 season when North Texas handed the Red Raiders a 6-1 loss at Rocky Johnson Field. The last two meetings between the two schools have come at neutral sites as Tech claimed a 10-0 victory on Feb. 24, 2012, in an eight-inning contest at the Texas Shootout in Waco.
RED RAIDERS LOOK TO CONTINUE SUCCESS AGAINST NON-CONFERENCE FOES
Texas Tech has traditionally found success in home non-conference games under head coach Shanon Hays as the Red Raiders are 68-6 in such contests over his four-plus seasons. Hays boasts an impressive .919 winning percentage when facing non-conference opponents at Rocky Johnson Field. Tech heads into this week riding an eight-game home winning streak that is its longest since winning 19-straight early in the 2011 season.
EMANUEL NAMED BIG 12 PLAYER OF THE WEEK
Sydni Emanuel was named the Big 12 Player of the Week on Tuesday afternoon after hitting .565 last weekend (13-for-23) at the Titans Classic and San Diego State Classic. She is just the second Red Raider freshman to ever garner a conference weekly award, joining Amanda Renfro, who was honored as the Big 12 Pitcher of the Week twice in 1998. Emanuel finished with two or more hits in four of six games last weekend, including a 4-for-4 performance in the Titans Classic finale against host Cal State Fullerton last Friday. The Missouri City, Texas native totaled a .583 on-base percentage and frustrated opponents on the base paths from there, stealing nine bases to bump her season total to a conference-leading 28 already this season. Emanuel stole at least one base in all six games, including two in three-consecutive games against UNLV, Fullerton and Long Beach State. She ended the weekend ranked as the Big 12 leader for hits, runs scored, stolen bases and triples. She is also second in the league with a .447 batting average and third with 62 total bases.
RED RAIDERS ON PACE TO SHATTER STOLEN BASES RECORD
After stealing 20 bases alone during their seven-game road trip to California, the Red Raiders are well on pace to break the Texas Tech single-season record of 81 stolen bases from 2001. Tech leads the Big 12 and ranks among the top-20 teams nationally in stolen bases as the Red Raiders have taken on a new dimension this season on the base paths. Sydni Emanuel and Lea Hopson have combined for 45 of Tech's 65 stolen bases with 28 of those coming from Emanuel, who leads the Big 12 in the category and ranks fifth nationally in stolen bases per game entering this week. The Red Raiders have benefited from additional speed throughout its lineup and on its bench as 11 different players have at least one stolen base this season. Tech is in contention to possibly rank among the best base stealing teams in Big 12 history as well as the Red Raiders need 54 more stolen bases to enter the top 10 in the conference record book.
EMANUEL ALREADY CLOSING IN ON SINGLE-SEASON STOLEN BASE RECORD
Sydni Emanuel could possibly break the Texas Tech single-season stolen base record before Big 12 play even begins next weekend. Emanuel has five games this week to steal six bases which would match Ashley Parker's single-season record of 34 from the 2006 season. The Missouri City, Texas native already ranks second in single-season school history with 28 stolen bases through just 31 games. She is the Big 12 leader in the category and ranked fifth nationally in stolen bases per game enter this week.
TALLEY MATCHES BEST START TO A SEASON SINCE 2011
Brittany Talley matched her best start to a season last weekend at the Titans Classic as the southpaw improved to 8-0 on the year with last Saturday's victory over host Cal State Fullerton. The undefeated record matched Talley's previous best start to a season from 2011 when she opened her collegiate career 8-0 as well. Talley ended 2011 with a 14-7 overall record which marked her most wins in a season so far in her career. Talley's undefeated run came to an end Monday with a 6-0 loss to Harvard where she allowed only one earned run over the first four innings. Her 1.71 earned-run average ranks seventh in the Big 12 entering this week as she has allowed just 16 earned runs in 65.2 innings this year.
AUCOIN REMAINS AMONG BIG 12 LEADERS IN ERA
Gretchen Aucoin, despite a 2-1 record last weekend in California, still ranks among the top pitchers in the Big 12 entering this week as her 1.24 ERA ranks second in the conference. Aucoin is 7-3 this season in the circle and has allowed more than two earned runs just once - March 7 in Tech's 8-4 victory over New Mexico State. The Ocean Springs, Miss. native ranks among the conference leaders in innings pitched, strikeouts, appearances, saves, and opponent batting average. Aucoin helped her cause often last weekend as she connected on her first home run of the season against Canisius before finishing with six RBI on the weekend.
CUSTER TIES TEXAS TECH CAREER MARK FOR SAVES
Cara Custer tied the Texas Tech career record for saves last Saturday after closing out each of the Red Raiders' victories over both UNLV and Cal State Fullerton. Her six career saves match the school record that was set previously by a trio of players - Amanda Renfro (1998-01), Erin Crawford (2003-06) and Jule Hauck (2004-06). Custer may be joined atop the career leaders soon as teammates Brittany Talley and Gretchen Aucoin both have recorded five saves over their respective careers.
TAPIA CLOSES OUT IMPRESSIVE TWO WEEKS AT THE PLATE
Over the past two weeks, few Red Raiders have been hotter at the plate than Sydnie Tapia. The sophomore hit .531 during her career-best 12 game hitting streak that ran from March 1-16. It marked the second-longest hitting streak for a Red Raider this season, falling just one game shy of Sydni Emanuel's run from earlier this year. Tapia connected on three of her four home runs this season during that stretch while also driving in 12 RBI. She posted five multiple-hit games during the streak which ended this past Sunday against San Diego State. The Arlington, Texas native also had three multiple-RBI games, including three against Abilene Christian on March 9 which matched her career high.