It hasn’t been that long since freshman Cassie McClure played in Austin.
The last time she was there, the dual-threat pitcher/power hitter led her team to the state title game.
“Coach Hays told me to ‘Get used to winning in Austin,’” McClure said.
After losing the Big 12 opening series to Baylor, Texas Tech softball is going on the road to take on Texas in Austin.
Only three hours from her hometown of Kingwood, the Austin series means this weekend will be a homecoming for McClure.
“My old high school coaches and teammates are coming to watch me,” McClure said. “It’s going to be a great experience. I know of lot of people that are on UT because I played with a good number of them when I played travel ball. I can’t wait.”
McClure said that Texas Tech head coach Shanon Hays also told her to “Keep hitting those home runs.”
On the season, McClure has four homers, with her first one coming on Feb. 20 in Tech’s 4-1 victory over the University of Texas in Arlington.
McClure said hitting the first one was “cool,” and it opened the door for more to come.
Nine days later, she hit two homers in the first inning against Rhode Island — a three run shot and a grand slam.
One of 11 freshmen on the roster for the Red Raiders, McClure has the second-highest batting average on the team at .352 and leads the team in RBI with 30.
That is the most RBI by a freshman since Mikey Kenney in 2010 who went on to be Tech’s career leader in RBI during her career from 2010-13.
The secret to McClure’s success in the box, she says, is that she doesn’t think.
“I literally sing the ABC’s when I’m up to bat,” McClure said. “That’s just what I do.”
This past weekend against Baylor, McClure went 1-of-8 at the plate and knocked in a run.
“Cassie’s been really good as a freshman as far as driving in runs in our lineup,” Hays said. “I thought she probably had as good at bats as anyone throughout the duration of that three-game series. When you face really good pitching, you’re going to have some not-so-good at bats, but she’s done a good job of going back after having some bad at bats and making adjustments.”
After batting cleanup in six of Texas Tech’s first 25 games, McClure has bat in the four hole the past eight games.
“It’s pressure, but I love that kind of pressure,” McClure said. “I love pressure situations. That’s just how I am.”
That’s true on and off the field.
McClure is currently taking courses to prepare for nursing school and hopes to work as a nurse practitioner in an emergency room.
“(In a class in high school) we got scrubs and went to a hospital and shadowed people,” McClure said. “My first four weeks, I got to shadow in the emergency room. My very first day was really traumatizing. Someone told me to come and help with a guy’s catheter. I didn’t know what to do. … I thought this (environment) was kind of cool. I love the fast pace that the nurse practitioner has, and in the emergency room you have to be really fast paced and know everything.”
Blood and batting cleanup don’t phase McClure, so why should pitching against Division I schools?
While McClure has been in all but one game so far this season for the Red Raiders, she has only pitched 10.2 innings.
She’s 8-0 on the season and recorded a save the day after her first home run.
“I came here with an injury,” McClure said. “I had a meniscus tear. I was actually getting in rehab when I came here. I hadn’t pitched in three months. I was scared to land because it’s my landing foot. Since I’ve been here, I’ve been getting progressively back to normal. My spins, I do a lot of spin work. I’ve been working on a changeup that Coach Aly’s been teaching me. If I get that down, it’s going to be golden.”
Coming from high school where the focus was 75 percent school and 25 percent softball, McClure is happy that as a student-athlete at Texas Tech, her time is now evenly split at 50-50.
She’s always loved sports, to the extent that she describes her younger self as “not the average kid.”
“I really wanted to play sports,” she said. “I did go into dancing and stuff, but I didn’t like it. I was that weird girl that was like, ‘I want to play sports.’ My dad played baseball and my mom played softball. They actually got me into the sport, and I just fell in love with it.”
She also fell in love with Tech.
While most people look at the coach and the facilities, McClure was more impressed with the campus.
Before she started classes in Lubbock, McClure played alongside freshman Sydni Emanuel in the TGCA All-Star Game and played with freshman Brittany Lee in the Triple Crown All-American game.
“That was fun going up against (Sydni),” McClure said. “I think I only pitched to her once. We’ve known each other for a while because our dads used to talk and stuff. … Brittany actually caught me when I was pitching. It was cool because she had No. 21 and I had No. 21. When she was catching me I was like, ‘Oh my gosh, she’s going to be catching me in about a month or so in college. This is going to be awesome.’”
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