IRVING, Texas – Following the conclusion of the regular season, the Texas Tech softball team tied its program record with six All-Big 12 Softball Team awards, announced by the Big 12 Conference office on Wednesday.
Karli Hamilton highlighted Tech's five award winners as a unanimous All-Big 12 First-Team selection and a trio of Red Raiders – Peyton Blythe, Heaven Burton and Jessica Hartwell – earned second-team recognition. Blythe and fellow newcomer Zoe Jones capped the team's conference awards with an appearance on the All-Freshman Team.
"I'm extremely proud of our team and our players for what they have accomplished so far this season," head coach Adrian Gregory said. "Each student-athlete is so deserving of these awards and the attention they are receiving."
Hamilton, who improved from her second-team laurels last season, led the Big 12 during the regular season with 73 hits and a Tech single-season record seven triples. She earned Big 12 Player of the Week recognition three times this season and was one of five Red Raiders honored on the Academic All-Big 12 First Team last week. The Houston native ties for fourth and 11th nationally in triples and hits and her .427 batting average ranks second in the league, 26th in the nation and second all-time in Tech's single-season history.
While starting every game as Tech's go-to center fielder, she led all hitters in league play with 29 hits and a .460 batting average. She leads the Red Raiders with 24 multi-hit games and went on a team-best 22 reached-base streak from Mar. 15–Apr. 30. Hamilton posted eight home runs, including a grand slam, during the regular season and ranked in the league's top five in runs scored (54), steals (13), total bases (121), on base percentage (.484). Additionally, Hamilton cracked the program's career triples record and leads all Red Raiders with 12 in her three-year career.
"Karli has had an incredible year at the plate and has come through for us in huge moments time and time again," Gregory noted. "It is definitely a well-deserved accolade coming from the coaches in our conference."
Hartwell carried her record-breaking ways over into her senior season and became Tech's all-time career leader with 48 home runs and 166 RBI in her four years in scarlet and black. The Galt, Calif., native ranked among the league's leaders in runs scored and triples, while ranking fourth with 46 RBI and third with 15 steals. She claimed sole possession of Tech's career home run record against then-ranked No. 12 Oklahoma State and topped the RBI leaderboard against Maine on Mar. 17. Hartwell picked up one Big 12 Player of the Week award during the regular season and she was awarded All-Big 12 Second-Team honors last week. Her second-team nod is the second of her career and she is set to wrap up her career as one of the most decorated student-athletes in program history.
Burton started all 51 games of the regular season in left field and was a continual threat on the base paths with a league-leading 19 steals. She ranked in the top-10 in the league with a .364 league and ranked second on the team, as well as fifth in the conference with 63 hits. In her second season of competition, she compiled 19 multi-hit games and her three triples this season lifted her to second in Tech history with eight in her career.
"Jessica and Heaven were pitched very soundly during our conference slate and they challenged up to find a way to be threats for us in the month of April," Gregory added. "They both fought hard through some things and ended on a really high note. I'm so proud of them."
Blythe, a freshman from Hughes Springs, Texas, missed the first half of the season with an injury but made an immediate impact throughout conference play. She started every conference matchup and was one of two freshmen to make the second team. She was the highest-ranking freshman with seven doubles in conference play and she tied with Hamilton with four steals in league action. The first home run of her career sparked Tech's offense in a come-from-behind win over No. 21 Kentucky and the freshman made numerous gutsy plays in right field to preserve runs for the Tech defense.
Jones made a lasting impression in her first season both offensively and defensively. The freshman started all 51 games at second base and served as a consistent force in the Red Raider lineup. The Mustang, Okla., native collected 44 hits during the regular season – 13 in Big 12 play – and holds the second highest on base percentage on the team (.459). Two of her four homers came against top-25 teams and the other two were hit off top-75 RPI opponents. Jones posted 10 multi-hit games during the regular season and she reached base in 20 consecutive games from Feb. 9–Mar. 16.
"Peyton and Zoe are our future and man, it is bright," Gregory explained. "Both of them were very difficult outs at the plate and they made huge plays for us on the defensive side of the ball. I'm very happy that they earned this recognition and I believe there is more to come."
The Red Raiders are set to travel to Oklahoma City for the 2019 Phillips 66 Big 12 Championship at USA Softball Hall of Fame Complex. The Red Raiders enter the weekend as the No. 4 seed and will face No. 6 seeded Kansas (11 a.m.) and No. 1 Oklahoma (2 p.m.) on Friday, May 10. Dependent upon how the Red Raiders fair during pool play, they will play at either 11 a.m., 1:30 p.m. or 4 p.m. on Saturday, May 11. All-Session tickets for the Championship have sold out. If available, a limited number of single-session tickets will be sold on-site.