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Texas Tech Fall Report

By Jackson Wall

As football season comes to an end and basketball season is just getting started, naturally it's only right to look forward to the best thing in college sports, Opening Day. As the Texas Tech Red Raiders look forward to February 16, they still have a lot of questions to be answered regarding this year's squad. Coach Tim Tadlock looks to build on last year's regional run and use some veteran experience within the lineup to supplement the young guys to push for a spot in Omaha. While they are returning six starters from last year's squad, expect this team to look significantly different than 2023.

Let's get into some key returners and newcomers for Tadlock's squad. The first key returner is All-American first baseman Gavin Kash. Kash looks primed for another monster year in Lubbock, as he might arguably be the best first baseman Tech has seen since Cam Warren's departure in 2019. Expect Kash to be a dominant force in the lineup, as he hit .326 last year with 26 homers and 84 RBIs. Kash should thrive once again in Lubbock with the high winds and even more protection around him in the lineup.

Another key returner is redshirt sophomore Kevin Bazell. Bazell is looking to build on a phenomenal year last season, slashing .348/.452/.572 with 24 doubles and 10 home runs. With those stats, he earned himself All Big-12 First Team, Collegiate Baseball All-American, and unanimous Big 12 All-Freshman Team. This year should be vastly different for Bazell, though. With the departure of Hudson White, (transferring to Arkansas), Bazell is expected to get the majority of innings behind the plate for Tadlock's Red Raider squad. Sitting in a 6’1', 205 pound frame, Bazell should project to be an athletic catcher this season and will be looking to be a dominant force in the top half of the batting order as well for Coach Tadlock.

Some returners pitching-wise begin with junior starting pitcher Kyle Robinson. Robinson was dominant in his last two starts of the 2023 season, with five innings of no-run ball and a career-high eight strikeouts against Oklahoma State in the Big 12 Championship Game. He followed that with five innings of two-run ball against national runner-up Florida in the Gainesville Regional. While Robinson struggled on the USA National Team this summer, expect him to take a big leap in an increased role this season. Instead of coming out of the pen, Robinson looks to be a key contributor in the rotation this year for Tadlock's squad.

Also expect to see a lot of sophomore Zane Petty on the bump this season. After a very good summer in the California Coastal League, Petty looks to take on a big role this spring for the Red Raiders. He has thrown the ball well this fall, most recently tossing four innings of one-run ball in the Red vs Black Series. Petty led Red Raider freshmen in innings last season, and look for that to continue his second year. The final key returner on the bump is sophomore Taber Fast. Fast looks to build off a solid freshman campaign, and he will most likely see a decent increase in innings as well as potentially being in the starting rotation for coach Tadlock.

A key hitting newcomer for Texas Tech is Cade McGee. McGee has swung the bat well this fall and looks to slot right in at third base for Coach Tadlock. After transferring from Gonzaga this summer, the junior infielder seems to feel right at home in Lubbock and is most likely going to take advantage of the offensive-minded ballpark that is Dan Law Field. After winning WCC Freshman of the Year in 2022, McGee started 2023 very strong starting in the first 20 games, slashing .293/.430/.587 before getting sidelined with an injury for the rest of the season. Expect him to take on a prominent role this season for Texas Tech in the middle of the order.

Some positional battles are also likely, mainly at shortstop and in the outfield. Last season, Tracer Lopez got a majority of the reps at shortstop, but towards the end of the season coach, Tadlock was rolling Will Burns out at shortstop. Something to note about Burns is that for the past season, he has been with the football team as a dual-sport athlete. This is a boon for him because all summer, he has been on the football lifting and nutrition programs and is clearly already seeing the benefits. Since last spring, he has added on some decent mass, and one can assume more pop in the bat will come with that. It will be interesting to see which sophomore Tadlock sends to go pick it at shortstop this season, or if he gives a freshman like TJ Pompey a chance to prove himself out there as well.

The last positional battle to watch with interest is in the outfield. With the graduation of left fielder and leadoff man Nolan Hester and losing Dilon Carter to the transfer portal, the Red Raiders have some big shoes to fill in the outfield. Expect to see true sophomore Gage Harellson in the outfield and hitting in the top of the order for the Red Raiders. After hitting .324 and leading the team in triples and stolen bases last season, Harrelson looks to be another key piece in the lineup for Coach Tadlock. Some names to keep an eye out for as potential outfielders include junior Owen Washburn, sophomore Damian Bravo, and senior Drew Woodcox. Coach Tadlock has even said that there is a chance some infielders could be tried out there, leaving no stone unturned to find the overall best lineup.

This Red Raider team is young, playing with a chip on their shoulder, and they are ready to carry on the program tradition and make some noise in the New Big 12 come February 2024.

All Images courtesy to @TTU_Baseball on X


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