Big 12 Campus Correspondent
As Cydney Allen walks into the Lady Raider softball facility before practice at Rocky Johnson Field, her positive personality and love for the game is written all over her face.
A top recruit out of Salt Lake Community College, Allen had her choice of softball powerhouses to choose from when she decided to join the Texas Tech softball program.
Born and raised in Taylorsville, Utah, a suburb of Salt Lake City, Allen said she was raised on the baseball field with her two older brothers, Ryan and Pierson.
"It's similar to football in Texas," Allen said. "As soon as you have a boy, you're out there buying him football stuff. In Taylorsville, everybody has a baseball bat, everybody has a glove, and you just go out there and play. I was raised on the baseball field."
Coming from a family where three generations of women played softball, Allen said while growing up her dream was to win a state championship at Taylorsville High School.
With an impressive high school career as a four-year letterman, she achieved this dream her junior year when the squad won the 2007 Utah State Championship. Allen was also a first team All-State selection all four seasons, the 2007 Gatorade All-American Player of the Year and 5A MVP.
Now, just four years after achieving her childhood dream, her aspiration is a NCAA National Championship, and she thinks Tech has an opportunity to make it there for the first time in school history.
"Now that I'm in the Big 12 program, we have a really good opportunity to go to a regional, then go to a super regional, and so on," Allen said. "A National Championship is one of those things that you dream and hope for, but since there is so much competition, you honestly don't know who's going to win the next game."
Though she does not dwell on her dream, Allen said the ambition is always in the back of her mind.
"We have an opportunity to put our names on the board with winning a National Championship - everybody does," Allen said "This year there's a lot of competition within the whole spectrum of national collegiate softball. Everybody has that opportunity to win the National Championship, but to be a part of that program where you have the opportunity to be the first softball team in school history to win a National Championship is amazing."
Now 38-6 overall and 3-5 in Big 12 play, Allen and her teammates had a team meeting last week to get their focus back.
"We agreed that now is the time to kick it into gear with Big 12 play," Allen said. "We had a wake up call when we lost three in a row. It's not like all these other conferences that you can play a really good team one week and then the next week you can slack off. With the Big 12 you have to be on your 'A-game' every single time."
Two years ago, Allen was playing for Brigham Young University, currently in the Mountain West Conference. After leaving BYU, the 6-foot-1-catcher finished her sophomore season at Salt Lake Community College hitting .520 with 14 home runs and 91 RBIs.
In her first season with the Lady Raiders, Allen has hit 12 home runs and, with her batting average above .400, is an offensive threat, according to head coach Shanon Hays.
"She's a very good athlete," Hays said. "She's tall, she has a good arm, and the best thing about Cydney is that she's a force swinging the bat and pitchers have to pitch to her very carefully. If they make a mistake on her, then she has the ability to hurt them with one swing."
Though Allen's offensive talents are obvious by her statistics, Hays said she remains an important part of the Red Raiders' defensive strengths.
"She's just an impact player in the middle of our lineup, but we also play her at catcher part of the time," Hays said. "She's a very talented catcher, to go along with Holley Gentsch and Randi Tongate. She makes us solid behind the plate. I knew she'd be good coming in here I just didn't know she'd be this good this early."
The junior catcher contributes much of her decision to join the Tech program to Hays. With just one year under his belt prior to Allen's arrival in Lubbock, Hays saw something inspiring in Allen.
"She knows it's about more than just her and she knows that our program doesn't revolve around her," Hays said. "Cydney gives herself to the team and it's easy for her to do. When I recruited her, I saw that she's a great team player and I feel lucky to have her. I just wish I had her for more than two years."