The Texas Tech softball team accomplished a few goals it set out prior to the beginning of the season.
The Red Raiders not only ended their season with a winning record, but also earned a berth in postseason play.
Now, Texas Tech as a chance to continue its positive roll when it faces off at 3 p.m. Wednesday against Stephen F. Austin in the regional round of the National Invitational Softball Championships set to be played on the campus of Central Arkansas in Conway, Ark.
The other first-round matchup includes host Central Arkansas (27-25) taking on UT-Arlington (27-26) in a double-elimination format.
"I think it's steps forward. That's what we're looking to, that's what we started when we came here," said Adrian Gregory, who has led the Red Raiders to their first postseason berth since 2012. "We need to take steps forward each year and we have done that in so many ways. ... This is another major step: good experience for our young team, extended part of your season. All of those things are forward steps for your program."
The Red Raiders (29-26 overall), who were one of 12 automatic qualifiers in the NISC, will begin their run of play hot off a fourth-place showing in the Big 12 Tournament.
Much of the success has been attributed to the consistent hitting of Jessica Hartwell (.400), Heaven Burton (.374) and Michael Cochran (.368). Karli Hamilton has become a run-producing machine, driving in 46 runs this season.
"This is just such a special group. I really don't want this year to end at all," Hartwell, a junior infielder who has hit 20 home runs to go along with 59 RBIs this season. "It's going to be such an awesome experience and these teams are going to give it all they have."
The Ladyjacks finished fourth in the Sun Belt and split their last 10 games.
SFA touts three players with nine home runsL Amber Landry, Taylor Fraccastoro and Margarita Corona. Coincidentally, the trio are also the top three producers on the offensive side as Landry has driven in 46 runs followed by Fraccastoro (39) and Corona (30).
Each regional champion will advance to the championship round set for May 23-26 at a host institution to be determine. Another double-elimination bracket will determine the champion.
"I think it's all about building momentum," Hamilton said. "That's what coach G (Gregory) keeps preaching to us. Winning this thing would be really good for our team and help us feel good going into next season."