By Jessika Bailey
Big 12 Campus Correspondent
Growing up around baseball her whole life, it wasn’t a question when senior Emily Bledsoe decided to play softball at a young age.
The third baseman says she was surrounded by baseball through her older brother, a baseball player, and her dad, a little league coach. When she was old enough to start playing, Bledsoe joined the little league near her house that had just began a softball program. Unfortunately, the softball league fell through so she played baseball.
“After that my dad had heard about another softball league thirty minutes away and he asked me if I still wanted to play,” Bledsoe said.
Eventually, the Fulshear native began playing on a local tournament team and has been playing the game ever since.
Bledsoe was a stud in high school and decided to start looking into collegiate ball clubs. She admits Texas Tech wasn’t always her first choice.
“Honestly, I think it was a God thing,” the senior said. “Originally I really wanted to go to A&M or Baylor. The recruiting process is a game, so when I heard from Tech I was just coming as a bargaining chip.”
Bledsoe visited the campus her senior year of high school when Teresa Wilson was head coach. Wilson along with other athletics department administrators sold Bledsoe on the softball program and Lubbock.
“I felt like I was at home up here,” said Bledsoe, who was selected to the All-Big 12 second team the last two years. “I just felt like this is where God wanted me to be.”
Tech underwent several coaching changes in Bledsoe’s first two seasons as current coach Shanon Hays arrived when Bledsoe was a sophomore.
She bought in to Hays’ and the coaching staff’s vision and helped lead the team to a NCAA regional in back-to-back seasons, a first for the program.
During that time, Bledsoe has undergone some major changes on the field, including a change in position during Hays’ first season in 2010.
“When we moved her to third from shortstop my first year here, just to get our best nine in the lineup, she was a little apprehensive.” Hays said. “At first she was a little sketchy on plays and how to handle certain situations. Now that she's been playing there a while, I think she's as good as any one in the country at third base.”
Even with the position change, Bledsoe has become one of the more reliable players in school history. Entering this weekend’s Big 12 series with Iowa State, Bledsoe has started in all 205 games since her freshman year, a feat that currently ranks seventh among all-time Tech players.
Most importantly, though, Bledsoe has been a leader on and off the diamond. During a year where her stats are down from her previous two seasons, Hays still looks to Bledsoe for a spark at the top of the lineup and also in the field.
“She’s a leader pure and simple,” Hays said. “She doesn’t follow others. She leads the way.”
Bledsoe, an advertising major at Tech, was honored prior to the year on the American Softball Association of America (ASA) Top 50 Watch List that highlights the top players in the country.
In addition, she was selected as a candidate for the Lowe’s Senior CLASS Award that is presented annually to the top softball student-athlete who excels in the classroom, community as well as on the field.
All together, Hays said he was very fortunate to not only inherit a player of Bledsoe’s caliber but also her character as well.
“She’s the kind of kid I want my daughter around,” Hays said. “She’s a good example for all kids. Emily excels in the classroom as well as on the field.”