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Role models: Texas Tech seniors have big impact on softball, prepare for new careers

In November of 2009, first-year head coach Shanon Hays signed three players in his first signing class.

Posted: April 24, 2014 - 10:43pm  |  Updated: April 25, 2014 - 12:13am
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Texas Tech softball coach Shanon Hays will bid farewell to the final members of his first recruiting class. (FILE)  Geoffrey McAllister
Geoffrey McAllister
Texas Tech softball coach Shanon Hays will bid farewell to the final members of his first recruiting class. (FILE)

In November of 2009, first-year head coach Shanon Hays signed three players in his first signing class.

Two of them were high school seniors, Brittany Talley and Taylor Powell, and are now taking the field at Rocky Johnson for the final time this weekend in the last home series of the season against Iowa State.

“The closer it gets the more surreal it feels,” Talley said. “When you’ve played something for 14 years, it’s just crazy to think that it’s over.”

Marisa Malazzo rounds out the senior class after transferring to Tech her junior year.

After being the first pinch-runner off the bench in 2013, Malazzo has adapted to more of a supporting role in her final season.

“It’s different than I’ve had in the past, but it’s all about making sure your teammates are ready to go,” she said.

With a program-record 11 freshman on the team, it’s easy to focus on the youth.

However, Hays is quick to point out the vitality of the three seniors.

When he signed them over four years ago, Hays thought Talley and Powell could have great careers as Red Raiders.

And they have.

As a key component in Tech’s pitching rotation, Talley’s reliability in the circle began her first season.

“I came in with the mindset of ‘It’s my freshman year. I’m just going to try and take this year and get better,’” Talley said. “I was not expecting any kind of starting role whatsoever. Whenever I got the ball in that first game, the opening day start, it was amazing.”

This year, Talley is 9-1 on the season with the second-lowest ERA of the bunch at 2.20.

Over her four years, she has racked up 278 strikeouts and allowed only 108 walks.

“I have full confidence when she goes in the circle,” Powell said. “She’s going to go after people. She has the bulldog type of defensive attitude. Just being able to be her teammate has been a blessing.”

Powell has averaged .283 at the plate over her career and, like Malazzo, has embraced more of a supporting role this season after starting 40 games last year.

“When we came in, we were roommates our freshman year,” Talley said. “She came from a really small town, so coming to this school, she was just in culture shock when she got here. ... I wish I could be the all-around person she is. It’s great to have her here with me.”

While all three seniors have been productive on the field for Texas Tech, they are each on target to graduate next month.

Malazzo has been interested in medicine all her life and will graduate with a degree in exercise sports science.

She’s working on getting into physical therapy school in the Dallas area.

Powell has been accepted into Texas A&M’s veterinarian school, where she will begin next fall.

Coming from a rural community, Powell said she has a passion for this field because it’s where she’s from.

Talley will graduate with a degree in chemical engineering and has already accepted a position with Oxy and will begin in mid-June.

“They’re super kids,” Hays said. “They’re good individuals and good team kids. They’re unbelievable students. They’re just the kind of kids you want in your program. You can build your program around them.”

krista.pirtle@lubbockonline.com

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College softball

Who: Texas Tech vs. Iowa State

When: 7 p.m. Friday, 4 p.m. Saturday and noon on Sunday

Where: Rocky Johnson Field

Records: Tech 33-15 overall, 6-6 in Big 12; ISU 21-23 overall, 1-8 in Big 12

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