By Malley Stoddard
Big 12 Campus Correspondent
Change is something that has become familiar to Texas Tech senior Kristi Belshe throughout her collegiate softball career.
The first transition Belshe faced was picking up her roots in Hawaii, traveling to Illinois for two years, and then moving on to her current home in Lubbock, Texas.
Belshe, fresh out of high school in 2010, made the journey from Hawaii to Illinois to play for Lake Land College. In the eyes of some, it could appear like quite a drastic transition.
That was not the case to Belshe, however.
“There’s a lot of opportunities on the mainland that we don’t have in Hawaii,” said Belshe, the only Red Raider in school history to hail from Hawaii. “Getting a chance to experience living somewhere else away from home was amazing and I wouldn’t have traded that for anything.”
Belshe led the junior college ranks with a batting average of .605 coming out of her sophomore year at Lake Land, immediately making her a highly-coveted prospect to several Division-I programs across the country.
When it came time to make a decision as to where she wanted to spend her last two years of eligibility, Belshe said she knew her “right fit” was in Lubbock.
“This is what I want to do,” Belshe said, remembering her thought process at the time of her decision. “I want to spend my last two years in Lubbock and I want to play for Texas Tech.”
Belshe hit .276 with a pair of home runs and 25 RBI a year ago in her first season as a Red Raider where she mainly saw playing time in left field.
Midway through this past fall, though, first-year head coach Adrian Gregory found herself in a bit of a jam with only one true catcher remaining on the roster.
With quite a bit of depth throughout the outfield, Gregory quickly turned to Belshe, asking her to return the position she played and found quite a bit of success while attending Kalani High School.
“I really enjoyed the transition back into being a catcher,” Belshe explained. “That’s where I played all throughout my four years of high school and I’ve been waiting for the opportunity in college to make my way back there. It’s like home to me.”
Since making the move, Belshe has started at catcher in 33 of 39 games so far this season, giving Tech a defensive presence it struggled with a year ago behind the plate.
The Red Raiders totaled 27 passed balls in 2014 but have cut that number significantly this season to just six, only two of which that belong to Belshe, who has also thrown out 10 would-be base stealers.
“Kristi has certainly stepped up filling a need for us in the catching position this year,” Gregory said. “She has caught tireless innings without much relief and worked to build relationships with our pitchers. She has done this all while refining her skills behind the plate. I think our entire staff would all agree she has done an incredible job.”
In addition to her work defensively, Belshe is in the midst of her best season offensively as well as she is hitting .301 heading into this weekend’s series with No. 23 Kansas.
It’s her willingness to adapt, Gregory said, that has led Belshe’s success.
While thousands of miles away from life in Hawaii, Belshe may have found a new home to last her at least through this season, both behind the plate and in West Texas.“There is a reason that I’m here,” she said. “It’s like my job and I want to be able to perform and do my best — especially at something I love to do.”