North Texas Daily

Softball sees spike in power numbers despite simply hitting for contact

Softball sees spike in power numbers despite simply hitting for contact

March 30
22:23 2016

Clay Massey | Staff Writer

@Clay_FC

When North Texas hitters enter the batter’s box, one thing is running through their minds – make contact with the ball.

But despite not swinging for the fences, the ball has been flying off the bat and over the wall at an exponential rate for Mean Green hitters. North Texas leads Conference USA in home runs at 31, all while having the sixth least amount of at-bats, at 819.

The Mean Green is also second in C-USA in slugging percentage at .488 and is well above the conference average of .422.

“You don’t want to go into the box wanting to hit a home-run. You don’t want to go in there swinging out of your shoes,” junior shortstop Kelli Schkade said. “You want to see good pitches and make good contact. Then the extra base hits, the doubles, triples and home-runs will come.”

Schkade knows a thing or two about good contact, as she leads C-USA and is eighth in the nation in home-runs at 11. She’s also the only C-USA player to crack double digits in home-runs so far this season and is hitting at a .429 clip with 32 RBIs.

But the increase in power hitting overall comes somewhat as a surprise considering the team’s off-season. At the end of the 2015 season, junior Taylor Schoblocher left the team, despite remaining a student at UNT.

Schoblocher pummeled the ball in 2015, knocking out 13 home-runs, batting .389 and slugging for a team leading .833 percentage. While she was on pace to break nearly every school power record before her departure, Schkade and her young teammates have picked up where Schoblocher left off, and then some.

“We’re slugging well thanks to Kelli Schkade,” assistant head coach Natalie Kozlowski said. “She’s carrying us.”

While Schkade is the main contributor with power, her teammates have not shied away from letting the long ball fly. Six other Mean Green players have registered home-runs, including freshman utility players Rhylie Makawe and Harley Perella, and senior utility player Karly Williams.

Makawe and Williams are tied for second best on the team with five home-runs each. Perella has registered four, including a clutch three-run shot earlier in the season.

“We talk a lot about good pitch selection,” Perella said. “We try to drive the ball and put a charge into it and make it go somewhere. We don’t try to hit home-runs – they just kind of fall into place. It’s good to see it throughout the line-up so you have to shut down the whole nine.”

Perella said she’s trying to keep her mindset steady going forward to keep the team’s power numbers up.

“I think a lot of the time when you overthink it and try too hard, it’s not going to happen,” Perella said. “When you play the game like you always have and know how to, things are going to go in your favor.”

The production throughout the line-up has North Texas up with the best in the nation in home-runs per game. The Mean Green is currently producing 1.03 home-runs per game, which is good for 30th in the nation. The number is just 0.49 percent under the No. 1 ranked team in the nation – Michigan University.

While the Mean Green will continue to hit for contact, the coaching staff said they aren’t surprised the team they consider so talented has been able to drive the ball out of the ballpark.

“It’s not surprising, but in some regards it is surprising because we aren’t very big,” Kozlowski said. “But we swing hard. We want our kids to produce. It doesn’t matter if you’re in the 8-hole, 9-hole, coming off the bench or if you’re a role player. You have to get in there and produce, no matter the situation.”

Featured Image: Junior infielder Kelli Schade (9) drives a ball to the outfield against Sam Houston State in the Mean Green Spring Fling Tournament. Dylan Nadwodny | Staff Photographer

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