East softballer graduates early, plays for Texas Tech right away
May 25, 2013 at 12:25 a.m.
Lexie Elkins wasn't just the youngest player on the Texas Tech softball team.
At 17 years old, she is one of the youngest players in the country.
But looking at what she accomplished in her first season with the Lady Raiders, one could be forgiven for thinking she was the same age as her college teammates.
"On the field, I try to act like I'm the oldest on the team," said the Victoria East graduate. "If I play to the best of my ability age doesn't really matter."
Elkins played in 47 of Texas Tech's 56 games (30-26 overall record) and started 42 of them at catcher. She'd hit for a .282 batting average and recorded 33 hits, eight of which were doubles, and drove in 21 runs.
Behind the plate, she had just three errors and posted the second-best fielding percentage (.985) on the team.
"She is a girl that has the ability to be a complete player at the Division I level as far as catcher," said Texas Tech coach Shannon Hays. "At the end of conference she was really one of our better hitters."
Becoming a solid player in the Big 12 was no easy task, but neither was getting to Lubbock.
Last fall was Elkins' first semester as a senior at East, but circumstances changed and Texas Tech was in need of a catcher.
"From an academic standpoint, Lexie was in good enough standing where they that she can graduate a semester early and come right in and play," Hays said. "It really worked out well."
"Within like eight weeks I had to do my second semester of high school," Elkins recalled.
For those eight weeks, Elkins would wake up early before school to work on stuff for her second semester. She would go through her usual school day routine before coming home at night and working on more school work for her second semester.
"It was pretty tough but worth it," she said.
It wasn't easy, but Elkins doesn't have any regrets about missing her last semester of high school. In fact, graduating from East early was one of the best decisions she's ever made.
"I have no doubt in my mind that I made the right decision. It's been some of the best months of my life," Elkins said. "Everything has been fun. It's been a great experience."
After graduating in December and arriving in Lubbock soon thereafter, as her coach put it, Elkins was thrown into the fire that is Big 12 softball.
"Her biggest difficulty wasn't being young. I think it was coming that semester and didn't have the fall to get her feet wet and ease into things," Hays said. "She went through some things you'd expect, as far as catching up to the game. It seemed like it just started to click for her and she felt comfortable."
One thing that helped her adjust to playing Division I softball was her teammates. While there was some jokes about her age, Elkins' fellow Lady Raiders have played a big role in helping Elkins adjust.
"Being 17, they just think it's funny. They don't take it too far," Elkins said. "On the field, age wasn't really an issue. They (teammates) helped me out. They taught me some things. They were great teammates and helped me out a lot."
There's no question that Elkins' first season at Texas Tech was a successful one.
However, there are still three more to go in her collegiate career, which could be three very good years.
"That's the most exciting thing about Lexie. Not that she has turned into a good player now, but where she will be," Hays said. "She is somebody that as the years goes by, she'll grow into a leader for us."
Elkins, though, is just going to keep to a simple plan.
"I don't know what my potential is," she said. "I'm just going to work my hardest and whatever happens, happens."