By Sarah Salazar
Big 12 Campus Correspondent
Just over a year ago, Tim Proudfoot had no clue where Lubbock, Texas was located.
He had never heard of Texas Tech University or the Red Raiders.
The Northbend, Wash., native caught the eye of the Texas Tech coaching staff and knew it was time to do some research on Lubbock. What he found was a dry climate completely opposite of the rainy, cool weather he grew up in.
Proudfoot knew the weather so characteristic of West Texas meant outdoor practices and year-round baseball.
"I personally liked the weather down here a lot more than I do in Seattle, I like the rain up there but that kind of gets old," Proudfoot said. "I know Coach Spencer talked about how we wouldn't have to practice inside all the time like I had to at home. I wanted to come out here so I could play all the time."
However, after arriving in Lubbock Proudfoot knew he had his work cut out for him.
The freshman found himself in a heated battle for the starting spot at shortstop with two other freshmen. The competition did not make Proudfoot shy away, instead it forced him to play at a higher level.
Proudfoot worked through struggles at the plate in the fall to emerge as the starting shortstop on Opening Day. He not only emerged as the starter but he ran away with the starting role erasing any doubt about who was the right player to lead the infield.
"The competition was good for me, it was good for all of us," Proudfoot recalled. "We all gained from it, and we all got better. We all pushed each other and we all could have had it at different times. I was fortunate enough to get the spot, and I'm just trying to run away with it and not look back."
Proudfoot has certainly not looked back since, making the transition from high school baseball to the elite competition level of the Big 12 look seamless.
Batting .304 with 22 RBI, eight doubles, four triples and one home run - a grand slam - Proudfoot has already left his mark on the 2012 season. Accompanying his offensive production is the defense that he makes look effortless, leaving the Red Raider faithful amazed at his abilities at shortstop.
"The biggest adjustment for me so far is just pitching, facing better pitchers," Proudfoot said. "Other than that it's still taking ground balls. They hit it a little harder but it's just fundamentals, over and over again. It's definitely not as easy as it looks. It's just repetition and getting used to playing at this level."
Head coach Dan Spencer is certainly one person who is not surprised by Proudfoot's consistent play so early in his career.
"Tim came in here this fall and was one of the three freshmen we had competing for the starting job at shortstop," Spencer said. "He improved throughout the fall and into this spring. He earned the starting position and has never looked back."
While consistency on the field stands out to everyone, Spencer is aware of just how much effort Proudfoot puts in to play at the level he does, citing Proudfoot's work ethic as a key to his early success.
"One thing about Tim is he works hard," Spencer said. "Since the fall, he has done a good job at getting better every day. During the fall he was good defensively, but struggled at the plate. This spring he came out and swung the bat really well leading up to our first game. He has been outstanding defensively and has hit in our two-hole for most of the season."
Spencer also recognizes how fortunate the Texas Tech baseball program is to have a player of Proudfoot's caliber anchoring the infield so early in his career and knows that Tech fans have a lot to look forward to on diamond.
"When recruiting Tim, we heard about his defensive abilities, and when we were able to see him we were not disappointed," Spencer recalled. "We look forward to Tim having a solid career at Texas Tech."
With such a fast road to success, it is easy to forget that Proudfoot is only a freshman adjusting not only to the competition level of college baseball but just the general lifestyle change that college brings. However, he has managed to make that transition look effortless too.
"It's awesome, I just love the whole college atmosphere," Proudfoot said. "Everyday it's like everyone is having fun playing and everyone gets along with each other. I love the atmosphere here, it's really fun."