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ICYMI: Softball takes first series loss of the season to Louisiana Tech

ICYMI: Softball takes first series loss of the season to Louisiana Tech

ICYMI: Softball takes first series loss of the season to Louisiana Tech
April 19
10:43 2022

A three-game series versus Louisiana Tech University over the weekend saw softball lose a regular season Conference USA series for the first time since 2019 as the Lady Techsters took the final two games of the series in Denton. 

North Texas (25-10, 13-5 C-USA) retained the C-USA West Division lead despite the two losses after the University of Alabama-Birmingham (21-18, 9-5 C-USA) also lost two games over the weekend. Freshman right-handed pitcher Skylar Savage started two games, getting the win in her first start on Thursday before pitching a complete game loss on Saturday.

With an injury-plagued pitching staff, Saturday saw junior infielder Saleen Donohoe make her college debut in the circle. Her last pitching appearance came during her time at Duncanville High School. 

“It was [Donohoe’s] first outing in probably three years,” head coach Rodney DeLong said. “Wasn’t too bad, just a really good opportunity to get her in the game, get her some innings and see what she can do. She handled it well.”

Game 1: North Texas 8, Louisiana Tech 2

Fifth-year senior right-hander Audrey Pickett started in the circle for Louisiana Tech (29-16, 9-6 C-USA), going 4.1 innings, striking out one batter and surrendering eight runs on ten hits. Savage started for the Mean Green and picked up her 10th win with six strikeouts, one walk and allowed one earned run in a complete game performance.

The Lady Techsters took the early lead as freshman outfielder Sierra Sacco led off the game with a single, then with one out was singled home herself by sophomore catcher Brooke Diaz. Sophomore outfielder Lexi Cobb led off the North Texas offense with a single in the bottom of the first, but the offense could not capitalize.

Savage settled in during the second inning as she retired the Lady Techsters in four batters. She received run support in the bottom half with an RBI single off the bat of sophomore catcher Ashlyn Walker.

Sophomore first baseman Kailey Gamble gave the Mean Green the lead in the bottom of the third with a two-run shot for team-leading home run No. 11. After Gamble’s homer, the contest remained 3-1 until the fifth inning.

Louisiana Tech struck first in the fifth with a Sacco bunt single. A junior infielder Amanda Gonzalez single got Sacco to second before an error at second by sophomore second baseman Mikayla Smith scored her.

Freshman shortstop Cierra Simon hit her second home run of the season in the bottom of the fifth which sparked a five-run inning for the Mean Green. Gamble hit a two RBI double to center field that was followed by a redshirt sophomore Molly Rainey home run to extend the North Texas lead to 8-2.

Savage cruised through the next two innings to keep the score there and give the Mean Green the series-opening win. 

Game 2: Louisiana Tech 9, North Texas 3

Junior left-handed pitcher Ashley Peters took the circle for North Texas in Friday night’s contest with the southpaw pitching 6.1 innings, striking out two, walking two and giving up six earned runs on 10 hits. Sophomore right-hander Lauren Menzina started for the Lady Techsters, going five innings, striking out two, walking one and surrendering two earned runs on six hits. 

Gonzalez got on base via a hit by a pitch with one out in the top of the first, then stole second to get in scoring position. An error at first by Gamble on a ground ball by sophomore infielder Caroline Easom brought the game’s first run as Gonzalez scored on the play. Two errors in the bottom of the first resulted in the Mean Green tying the ball game at one.

Three runs came across in the top of the second for Louisiana Tech. Sophomore infielder Jordyn Manning shot an RBI double to right field to give the Lady Techsters back the lead, then a Simon throw to first with bases loaded was off the mark which allowed two runners to score.

The score remained 4-1 in favor of Louisiana Tech until the fifth inning when the Lady Techsters tacked on three more runs. Graduate outfielder Madie Green doubled to right field with two outs and was singled home by junior infielder Lindsay Edwards. Redshirt sophomore outfielder Katelin Cooper then walked and both Edwards and Cooper were brought home by a two RBI Manning double. 

Simon led off the bottom of the fifth with her third home run of the season to cut the deficit to 7-2. The next two batters were retired by Menzina before Gamble’s 12th home run of the season brought the Mean Green within four.

A 1-2-3 inning for Peters in the sixth held the deficit at four. Sophomore right-handed pitcher Emma Hutchinson took the circle for Louisiana Tech in the bottom of the sixth, getting two quick flyouts and giving up a single to freshman outfielder Sydney Ingle before retiring the side via a Cobb flyout to right.

Two more runs came across in the top of the seventh for the Lady Techsters. The first came by a Green solo home run. Peters exited the game following an Edwards single and Cooper double. Relieving her was Donohoe, who threw a wild pitch to allow another run, before striking out her first collegiate batter, Sacco, in the next at-bat.

Hutchinson closed out the game in the bottom of the seventh. Peters picked up her fifth loss of the season while Menzina got her fourth win.

Game 3: Louisiana Tech 6, North Texas 5

Savage started her second game of the weekend on Saturday, pitching all seven innings, striking out five, walking two and allowing five earned runs on eight hits for her fourth loss on the season. Pickett retook the circle for Louisiana Tech after taking the loss on Thursday, pitching 5.1 innings, striking out three, walking one and allowing five earned runs in her 19th win on the campaign.

A scoreless first inning made way for Cooper to give the Lady Techsters the lead with a pulled two-run homer to left field. Louisiana Tech added four more runs in the top of the third on a Diaz RBI single, error on an errant Walker throw past second base and Edwards two RBI double. With a 6-0 lead, Pickett held North Texas scoreless until the bottom of the sixth.

With one out in the bottom of the sixth, sophomore outfielder Kalei Christensen tripled to right field. Gamble put the Mean Green on the board with her third home run of the weekend in the following at-bat. Two singles followed by a Donohoe two-run double brought North Texas within two. Freshman infielder Rylan Dooner added one more in the inning with a sacrifice bunt against the newly-entered Hutchinson.

Pitching in a closer ballgame, Savage set down the Lady Techsters in four batters in the top of the seventh. The Mean Green got the tying and winning runs on base in the bottom half but stranded both runners as a hard Rainey lineout to right field ended the contest. 

Savage went 14 innings on the weekend with two complete games. Donohoe getting her debut in the circle on Saturday night was the first time a pitcher other than Savage or Peters took the circle for North Texas since March 6. DeLong said the team’s current lack of pitching depth is something they know is an issue.

“It’s tough, we’re aware of it and it’s something that we have to deal with and fight through,” DeLong said. “It’s not ideal, but it’s the way it goes. It’s why early in the game, we can’t leave runners [on base].”

The Mean Green face No. 1 the University of Oklahoma Wednesday night before a weekend series at the University of Kansas. North Texas also stares down a possible reunion with its former player in graduate right-handed pitcher Hope Trautwein who joined the Sooners after last season.

“More than anything we need to get rested up,” DeLong said. “We’re going to take advantage of the two off days and get rested up and rejuvenated.”

Featured Image: Senior third baseman Tayla Evans does a fielding drill during practice on March 8, 2022. Photo by Maria Crane

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Reed Smith

Reed Smith

Senior Sports Writer.

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