When the COVID Pandemic struck the world, it stopped a ton of things. One of those being arguably the most talented Texas Tech Baseball roster in program history. You had everything on that roster. Hitting, speed, one of the best bullpens in recent memory, and three starters that could win you games. If they had gone on to win a National Championship, many would have called it Coach Tadlock’s best coaching season. They would be wrong. The 2021 season has been his best job by far of rolling with the punches and still managing to make it to the Super Regional Round. Here’s why:
I went on the Tortillas and Takes Podcast a couple of weeks ago to talk baseball (you can listen to that episode here). When asked how this season compared to others in recent memory, I said “near miraculous”. I stand by it. I’m going to put some stats below from last season:
Those are three pitchers that would have been crucial pieces of your pitching staff this season. Dobbins and Becker were most likely your Friday and Sunday guy respectively and Brutowski was looking to be a closer for you. They all had injuries before the season began. They all should return healthy as well. Those numbers may not seem great but remember there were only 19 games played last season.
Going into the season, you were already down three of your top guys. If all three had been healthy, I doubt you see Micah Dallas starting (he would most likely move to a closer role) or Mason Montgomery see the mound much at all this season. I also doubt you see guys like Andrew Devine get any innings at all.
Over the course of the season, there were still more injuries that piled up for the Red Raiders. Dru Baker missed a couple of weeks with an injury. Then, your other two starting outfielders Dylan Neuse and Kurt Wilson suffered injuries that would end Neuse’s season and almost end Wilson’s (he returned for the Regional and Super Regional Rounds).
Not only were those three injured, but an up-and-coming pitcher Brandon Birdsell hurt his shoulder and ended his season. That’s a total of seven injuries this season. Not to mention Cal Conley’s illness before the last game of the season.
Most programs would have shut down the season at that point competition-wise. Seven key injuries would have derailed 90% of schools’ chances at not only going to the NCAA Tournament but having any success. It didn’t phase this team much at all.
This team went through so much adversity this season between the freak ice storm that torpedoed the first week of the season to all the injuries and through it all, Coach Tim Tadlock kept this team focused, poised, and on the right track.
2021 won’t be remembered for a National Championship or even a Conference Championship, but it will be remembered as a team that not only faced adversity but punched it in the mouth on its way to success after success. In my opinion, this is Tadlock’s greatest accomplishment. Not only did he guide this team to a Super Regional, but he also got facilities upgrades and a lifetime contract that other coaches (…) refused to sign. There are even rumors of a new Stadium in the distant future.
I’m not saying the end of the season wasn’t disappointing, it was. Something that can’t be argued is the level of competition Coach Tadlock and this team had even through extraordinary circumstances.
Guns Up! Next season, let’s finish the fight!