Tyler Floyd has never so much as attended a College World Series game, and Texas Tech had never qualified to play in one.
The Red Raiders swept College of Charleston (SC) with a pair of 1-0 wins in Lubbock last weekend in the university's first ever appearance in the super regionals, earning their spot in Omaha, Nebraska for the World Series.
Floyd, one of Tech's two primary catchers, is almost at a loss for words when he describes the accomplishment.
"It's crazy, no one in Lubbock really knows what to do or how to react because we've never done it before," says Floyd, a 2012 Stephenville High School graduate and the son of former Stephenville superintendent Dr. Darrell Floyd and Huckabay superintendent Dr. Cheryl Floyd. "We have a lot of fans and supporters who have been waiting a long time for this."
Perhaps it wasn't until a post game conversation with Dad that the gravity of the situation actually sunk in for Tyler.
"I was talking to Dad after the game, and he was saying that people don't just get to go play in Omaha. It's not something a lot of people ever get to do," Tyler said. "I would watch the World Series on TV whenever I wasn't playing summer ball as a kid, but I didn't ever really think I would get to be a part of it someday."
Even when he left the McClennan Community College in Waco after just one season, he had no idea the type of team Texas Tech would have.
"If you would have told me when I signed last summer that this would have happened, I would have said you were crazy," he said. "But when we opened the season by winning three of four against No. 3 Indiana, I knew we had the chance to be pretty good. And later, in Big 12 play, we won two of three at TCU, and we won some other tough Big 12 series that showed what type of team we have and what we're capable of."
Floyd has played in 26 games for the Red Raiders, starting 18 times behind the plate. His batting average is .241, and of players with at least 50 at bats, he is third on the club with a .421 on-base percentage.
"We have so many great hitters that our coaches were telling the catchers that it isn't our job to hit. We have eight other guys in the lineup who can hit, and anything we get is extra, like a bonus," Floyd said. "I got hot for a while and put some solid at bats together, but I've also struggled from the plate at times. Our main job is to handle the pitchers and play solid defense, and I feel like I've done a good job of that."
Good enough, in fact, to earn playing time during the regionals against Miami (Fla.), when he tagged out a runner at home plate.
The other catcher, Hunter Redman, was selected by the Los Angeles Dodgers in the eighth round of last weekend's Major League Baseball First-Year Player Draft.
"He's a good guy to work with , and he's older, so I've been learning a lot from him," Floyd said. "It's so fun to work with our pitching staff, and as you can tell from last weekend, they're really, really good."
Chris Sadberry allowed just four hits in eight innings in Tech's game one victory Saturday, and four pitchers teamed up for a five-hit shutout in game two on Sunday. Jonny Drozd earned the save in both wins.
Floyd says in addition to strong pitching, home field advantage also helped the Red Raiders. They finished 33-4 at home this season.
"Our fans are just crazy and our home record is ridiculous. So even though the games were intense and close, we felt comfortable and confident the whole time," says Floyd. "Everyone I talk to now says they're going to Omaha, so we should have a great crowd there, too."
While it remains to be seen how many Red Raider faithful are in attendance when the World Series begins Saturday, one thing's for sure - Stephenville will be represented.
"The support I've received from back home is just awesome. My phone was blowing up (Sunday). All my friends called, I talked to Coach (Joe) Gillespie, Coach (Jeffrey) Thompson, and of course Coach (James) Boxley (the head baseball coach at SHS), and they were all so encouraging," Floyd said. "I probably would have never got here without Stephenville and all its support. Coach Boxley is a great coach, he's proven that there, and I know I wouldn't be here without having played for him."