North Texas Daily

Freshmen Craine and Makawe join Mean Green together after winning championships at Aledo

Freshmen Craine and Makawe join Mean Green together after winning championships at Aledo

March 24
09:44 2016

Clay Massey | Staff Writer

@Clay_FC

Sitting outside of the indoor batting cages at Mean Green Village, two former high school teammates fondly recall their two state title runs.

Freshman pitcher Lauren Craine and freshman utility player Rhylie Makawe won two state championships in their time at Aledo High School in Parker County. Now, the two are now suitemates and teammates at North Texas.

“Our team was so talented,” Craine said of their Aledo Bearcats. “It was so awesome playing with those girls behind me knowing that no matter where I threw the ball, it was going to be caught. Not only were they talented on the field, but we had such a good bond.”

Lifelong natives of Aledo, Makawe and Craine came to North Texas with plenty of game experience already under their belt, having made it to the state finals in softball three out of their four years in high school.

It hasn’t taken Makawe long to show the experience she gained, hitting .366 with four home runs in her first months as a division one collegiate player.

“We played with girls that were already committed to themselves,” Makawe said. “The competitiveness was already there. So we were already competing, before we got here, at a high level. I think that had a role in what we came out here to produce.”

Though Makawe and Craine have played together off and on since they were eight years old, it was never in the plans to team up again after high school.

Broadcast journalism freshman Lauren Craine is a utility player for Mean Green Softball. Sarah Bradbury | Staff Photographer

Broadcast journalism freshman Lauren Craine is a utility player for Mean Green Softball. Sarah Bradbury | Staff Photographer

Makawe was recruited very early in the recruiting process, with North Texas head coach Tracey Kee speaking to her at a tournament in Colorado. Kee made the effort to attend the tournament because Makawe had been on her radar for a while.

Craine was picked up last minute by North Texas and didn’t start garnering attention until the end of her process. But once Craine committed to North Texas, the excitement picked up for Makawe.

“It definitely made it more comfortable coming here knowing that I knew someone and was so close to someone coming here, and that I just wasn’t going to be someone new,” Makawe said.

Craine, a broadcast journalism major, was not sure what her plans were after high school, but Kee extended her a lifeline during her senior year. She weighed a handful of Division Two offers, but once Kee reached out, she was excited by the fact that Makawe was already committed to North Texas.

“Getting picked up by North Texas was such a blessing,” Craine said. “I never dreamed it ever, especially looking up to [Rhylie] my whole life on the field. Seriously, she’s so different. Getting to play with her is amazing. I could never not have fun with Rhylie.”

Aledo graduated a talented senior class in 2015, where six of the nine seniors, including Craine and Makawe, went on to play softball after high school.

Four of the six played for Division I schools, so Craine, who was receiving D-II offers, said she was convinced she was not on the same caliber as her talented high school teammates.

“I knew I couldn’t play with them,” Craine said. “The girls that were really good on our team were going to big, big schools.”

Makawe, however, had more confidence in Craine than Craine did herself.

“I knew you could play with them. I honestly did,” Makawe said to Craine. “You had it in you.”

Kee has also showed confidence in Craine, throwing her out into the circle to face a nationally ranked Baylor University squad and using her in tough situations.

Craine has come up big for North Texas in many of those situations, as she has now only allowed 35 hits and 17 runs in her 20.1 innings pitched.

Ecology freshman Rhylie Makawe pitches for Mean Green Softball. Sarah Bradbury | Staff Photographer

Ecology freshman Rhylie Makawe pitches for Mean Green Softball. Sarah Bradbury | Staff Photographer

But Kee never intended to recruit the two as a package – it just happened. The Aledo duo brings a presence to a large freshman class that sets an example for their teammates, according to Kee.

“They’re competitors, and they’re gritty,” Kee said of the duo. “They want to win. They set examples, but they do it in different ways. Rhylie is very vocal, whereas Lauren is very quiet and leads by example. She has a very calming presence on the mound.”

The two also bring fun personalities that Kee likes to have around.

“They’re good kids. They know when to laugh and when to be serious,” Kee said. “To me, I like the fact how they understand off the field they can be themselves. But when we get on the field, they do a nice job of flipping the switch to business. As a coach, that’s what you want to see.”

As suitemates, they spend a lot of time together off the field, adding to their bond. The duo has occasional jam sessions, and they also take part in a lighter version of skitching, where Mawake rides her bike and pulls Craine on roller blades.

But whether it’s on or off the field, the transition has mostly been smooth for both, thanks to each other’s company.

“I was kind of nervous coming in to North Texas, meeting all these new people,” Craine said. “But getting here, I feel like we’re a family. Our team is so close. The chemistry is awesome. It’s been fun and the memories we’ve made already are just so awesome.”

Featured Image: Broadcast journalism freshman Lauren Craine (left) and ecology freshman Rhylie Makawe, played softball together in high school and are now playing together for UNT. Sarah Bradbury | Staff Photographer

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