Texas State softball will travel to Waco this weekend to face some of the hottest teams in Texas.
The Bobcats will play the Texas Tech (7-4) and North Texas Friday, Baylor (8-1) and Texas-El Paso Saturday and will conclude on Sunday by facing a to-be-determined opponent.
The Red Raiders and The Bears are on six-game winning streaks, and The Eagles have won three in a row. Texas State enters the Texas Shootout tournament with a 4-6 record, including 1-5 away from the Bobcat Softball Complex.
“The big thing for us is to not worry about who’s in the other dugout, but to play our game,” Coach Ricci Woodard said. “We have to have quality pitches and quality at-bats. The rest will fall into place.”
Senior Chandler Hall and junior Anne Marie Taylor will again lead the Bobcats on the mound. Taylor has a 3-3 record and a 2.94 ERA after six starts, including a 2-1 loss last week that went down to the last at-bat.
Hall is 1-3 with a 5.96 ERA after a rough start at the Kajikawa Classic to begin the season, but tossed a complete game shutout at her last start against Dayton.
“They’re both tough and they’re both competitors. That’s the biggest reason you want them on the mound,” Woodard said. “They want the ball in their hand and they want to be in control of each game. They want to compete with each pitch.”
After graduating three key offensive players from last season, the Bobcats are relying on underclassmen to step up their performance. Jordan Masek, sophomore shortstop, has complied, ranking second on the team with a .350 average and in runs scored with five.
Masek, who started at shortstop the majority of last season, has seen most of her playing time in center field, a change she said happened in the middle of a fall exhibition game.
“They ended up hitting the ball to me and I made a pretty good play on it,” she said. “I really like it. It helps me relax.”
Masek also changed her approach at the plate during the offseason, hitting the ball to the opposite field for better contact. She said the change in mechanics, plus having a year of experience under her belt, has made a big difference so far.
“I know what to expect this year,” she said. “Coach Woodard has helped me with what pitchers are going to try and throw at me.”
Selena Hernandez, freshman shortstop, and Macie Hair, junior catcher, have also started hot at the plate. Hernandez is third on the team in batting average (.344), is first in at-bats (32) and runs (six) and is tied for the lead with four RBI.
Hair leads the offense with a .368 average and the defense with 47 put-outs.