Tristen Edwards will take the field as Nebraska's starting shortstop on Friday when the softball team officially opens its season Friday in Houston.
This season's journey, however, started last summer in the calendar aisle at Walmart.
Edwards, Nebraska's top hitter, did not like how she finished the 2018 season. Though the junior led the Huskers in several offensive categories, she felt she could have done more.
"I know she was first-team all-conference, but she has a lot higher goals than that," NU coach Rhonda Revelle said this week.
Looking for a way to document her motivation and her path, Edwards drove to Walmart and bought a calendar.
"I figured if I had a tangible thing that I could touch every day and write something down, or cross a box off, that it would hold me to the level of accountability that I want to hold myself to," Edwards said.
Edwards writes something down just about every day. Something to get better at. Something to maintain. She has a goal written at the top of every page so when she flips to the next page, she sees the reminders.
The calendar has flipped to February, and Edwards and the Huskers are looking to, like last year, start fast. However, this time, NU wants to finish fast, too, and extend the season into the NCAA Tournament. Last year, the Huskers lost nine of their final 10 games, and were one of the last teams left out of the NCAA field.
That led to the 2019 team motto "Start strong, stay strong, finish strong," Edwards says.
For Edwards, the younger sister of former All-American twins Taylor and Tatum Edwards, that means taking on this season with a sense of urgency.
"She's not going to leave it to chance this year that she's not prepared at any given moment," Revelle said.
Batting in the heart of NU's order last year, Edwards led the team in batting (.356), hits (57), home runs (12), RBIs (43) and runs scored (41). She batted .373 in Big Ten games, while also learning the ropes at shortstop, a position she had never played before until last year.
"I am holding myself to the highest level this year, and I don't want to be looked at as just a second-year shortstop," the Murrieta, California, native said. "I want to be looked at as hopefully one of the best playing today."
NU senior outfielder Alyvia Simmons said she would routinely spot Edwards in the facilities during the offseason for hours, taking ground balls.
"Tristen has grown in a way that I can't even explain," Simmons said. "Being able to go from the outfield and being put in the infield, and now I wouldn't even say she's put there. I think that's where she needs to be and that's where she looks so comfortable now. Even last year she looked comfortable, but this year I'd say she can compete with the best shortstops out there."
Nebraska played the Japan National Team on Thursday evening in Houston, losing 6-1. The Huskers will stay in Houston to open their season Friday at the Lone Star College Classic. NU will play Lamar and Texas Tech each on Friday and Saturday, and close against Omaha on Sunday.