By Kayla Curry
Big 12 Campus Correspondent
Texas Tech sophomore Gretchen Aucoin is a fierce, well-rounded player for the Red Raider softball team that has never let the competition of the game take away her joy in it.
Aucoin grew up in a surrounded by an athletic family with a great focus on sports.
“I grew up in that atmosphere,” said Aucoin, who was named the Big 12 Pitcher of the Week on Tuesday. “My dad is a sports fanatic and made sure we put a lot of time in to any sports we decided to do.”
Aucoin’s older brother, Alex, played baseball which lead her straight to her love of softball. Alex Aucoin went on to play collegiate baseball at Faulkner University.
“I always idolized my brother growing up,” Aucion said. “I thought he was the coolest person ever. I wanted the same number as him and to be just like him.”
The Ocean Springs, Miss. native decided to stay in the travel softball circuit and only played basketball in high school.
During her time in travel ball, Aucoin was just playing for the fun of the game and did not realize her future potential until later in her career.
“It wasn’t until my sophomore year in high school that it hit us that this could be a potential option in college,” Aucoin said. “I think my dad always had the idea in the back of his mind but it never occurred to me. I was just doing it for the fun of it.”
Aucoin was one of the more highly recruited travel ball players in the country and said the process happened very quickly. Although she was receiving a lot of unexpected attention, Aucoin said she didn’t let it faze her.
“I didn’t treat it any different,” Aucoin said. “The attention was nice. It just made me feel a little bit more confident. As far as playing, I played the same as if I wasn’t being recruited.”
Like a seasoned athlete, Aucoin used the nerves from the excitement of being recruited to her advantage.
“I just channeled my energy and my nerves in the right way where it ended up benefitting me,” Aucoin said. “It was really good competition and I really enjoyed it.”
When the process was over, Aucoin had committed to be a Red Raider come the fall of 2012. She picked Tech over the likes of Alabama, Mississippi State and Southern Mississippi.
“The atmosphere when I came to visit was awesome,” said Aucoin, who is 12-7 on the year with wins in each of her last four appearances. “The teammates seemed really cool and energetic. Between the atmosphere, the location, and the coaching staff, it was just great.”
The newest Red Raider knew the competition in college would be different from her hometown travel ball team.
Although she expected it, Aucoin said this new level of play was more difficult than she could have predicted.
“I went to California to play for two summers,” Aucoin said, “and I expected the competition to be tough out there. That was the biggest thing; even the competition out there couldn’t prepare me for the competition in college.”
Tech head coach Shanon Hays worked with his newest player to improve both her pitching and hitting soon after arriving in Lubbock.
Aucoin said she has really seen the improvement from their training together in the 2014 season as she is among the Big 12 leaders in most pitching categories while her hitting has improved as well.
The talented left-handed hitter, who pitches right handed, is hitting .282 heading into this weekend’s series with Iowa State. She has connected on five home runs already this season, including a three-run shot that helped Tech clinch its series with Kansas last weekend in Lawrence.
“Gretchen’s development from a freshman to a sophomore has been very impressive,” said Hays, Tech’s winningest coach in program history. “She has not only impacted us pitching this year but at the plate as well. She’s one of those rare five-tool players and we were fortunate when she decided to sign with Texas Tech out of high school. It’s been fun to watch her these past two years.”
Lately, Aucoin has returned to playing for her love of the fun of the game she is focusing on relaxing and letting her natural game take over.
“It wasn’t until recently that I started to not over think things,” Aucoin said. “Coach Hays told me to just relax, have fun and trust it. It’s just something that comes along with softball. It’s a game of failure. You’re going to fail more than you succeed. It’s just something that you learn after playing the sport for so long that you just have to start relaxing and trusting what you have and what you’ve developed.”Not a bad philosophy for someone with a bright future still ahead.