A young Texas Tech baseball team is ready for the NCAA tourney.


Considering the number of freshmen and sophomores the Texas Tech baseball team relies on this season, there was some growth.

But despite the youth on the team, the Red Raiders (39-21) have found themselves in a familiar spot this season with an at-large seed in the NCAA Tournament to play in Gainesville (Fla.). regional as the No. 3 seed. Texas Tech opens the tournament against 2-seed UConn (43-15) at 11 a.m. CDT on Friday. Host Florida (44-14), the No. 1 seed and No. 2 overall seed, will take on 4-seed Florida A&M (29-28) at 4:30 pm CDT on Friday.

This is Texas Tech’s seventh-straight trip to the NCAA Tournament. A few weeks ago, the Red Raiders were considered a bubble team, but the Red Raiders won seven of their last 12 regular-season games and won their first two games in the Big 12 Tournament last weekend — before losing two straight to Oklahoma State — to help seal the bid.

“I’m proud of these guys for getting us here,” Tech coach Tim Tadlock said. “A month ago, the RPI was in the mid-60s and it’s not sure, but we’ve won the games we really needed to win and we had to win to get to this point and they deserve credit for that.”

Tadlock credits the talent on the team — past and present — for the current postseason stakes.

“On the road to the season, you’re trying to make a lot of decisions to try to put everything in position to win and not just get into regionals,” he said. “In order to do that, you still have to have a very talented roster to stay in this position, if that makes sense. We have a lot of guys who can play baseball, a lot of guys who have a lot of experience on the baseball field. Although they are young, they have played a lot.

The strength of the Red Raiders is in their team hitting .309 and they can score as a team. Sophomore first baseman Gavin Cash, a Texas transfer, is hitting .333 and has belted 24 home runs this season. Senior outfielder Nolen Hester, a Wofford transfer and one-time starter at Midland Christian, is hitting a team-best .374 and leads the way with a .536 on-base percentage.

On the mound, sophomore left-hander Mason Molina (5-2, 3.72 ERA) leads the pitching staff, but the Red Raiders lack consistency behind him.

Tadlock also announced that one starter, Gratti Taber Fast, will not be able to line up at regionals due to injury. That means sophomore right-hander Kyle Robinson, who pitched five shutout innings against Oklahoma State last weekend, could pitch in Tech’s second game or possibly on Friday.


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