North Texas Daily

Kee continues to shuffle lineups throughout first months of season

Kee continues to shuffle lineups throughout first months of season

March 07
08:36 2018

When people see head coach Tracey Kee during a game, they see the same thing almost every time: a visor, a pair of thick framed black glasses and a look of pure focus.

Rarely will you see her drastically change something from day to day.

Except when it comes to her starting lineups this year.

In the sixteen games that North Texas has played in the 2018 season, Kee has started a different lineup in every single contest.

“When we recruited this group, we recruited a lot of athletes that can play multiple positions,” Kee said. “Whenever you can do that, it allows you to either put out a strong defensive lineup or add as many sticks as possible.”

The Mean Green sit at 8-8 this season and have a lot of new talent, but they also have a number of players who are having to come in and out of the lineup due to the fact they share their position.

To some, this may seem like bad thing. Maybe Kee is not letting her players get in a routine at a certain position or spot in the batting lineup. However, junior infielder Harley Perella, who has started 13 of the 15 games she has played, does not have a problem with it because it is what’s best for the team.

“I think it’s something we work on a lot in practice by having a ton of different defenses that go out there,” Perella said. “It’s hard, but you know the people next to you have your back and trust that coach is putting the best people out on the field for the job.”

Kee adds that a benefit in having all this talent, is the competition that comes with it. Obviously with only nine spots on the field, the battle to earn your spot in the lineup can be exciting and trying to endure.

“It keeps everyone competing everyday in practice,” Kee said. “As a student athlete, you should be wanting to get out there and fight. So as a coach, when I see them competing, I don’t have hesitation putting them in a game.”

Although the Mean Green’s performance has not been spectacular in this early portion of the year, one huge positive is the depth of their roster which shows in every game. Even for players who have not started, they saw action at some point in time during the first month of the season.

Freshman Kourtney Williams is one of the new, young faces that has made her presence known this year. Williams has played in 11 games, starting in seven.

“[Kee] kind of told us from the start that she wants a team that she can move around the field,” Williams said. “She wants to make sure we can play together no matter what the starting lineup is.”

Williams usually plays the second base position, but she has also been seen at the shortstop a few times, showcasing that utility side of her game.

“We always talk about ‘Kourtney doing Kourtney,'” Kee said. “She’s very quiet, but her game is very steady. It’s not flashy, and as a hitter, she’s got a very productive swing. She was never even recruited to play shortstop, but we brought over and have been working that side of the field to just add some depth, and she earned herself a few starts at that spot.”

Williams is one of several players to have pinch hit this season with most coming late in games.

With over 50 games to play in a span of just few months, Kee knows it is important to make sure you can turn to those players at anytime to perform when needed.

“It’s very easy to shut down just one hitter,” Kee said. “But if you’re trying to shut down one of our hitters, such as Lacy Gregory who is one of the best in the conference, the three kids behind her have the ability to put up big numbers [too].”

A lot of times, opposing teams seem to pay a lot of attention to Gregory and forget about players such as sophomore catcher Nicole Ochotnicki (.341 batting average) and sophomore outfielder Hannah Rebar (seven home runs, 16 RBI).

Luckily for Kee, her players have accepted their roles and put the team first. Team chemistry has been a strong point for the Mean Green, and it shows both on and off the field.

“Team chemistry is extremely important for us, especially as a young team,” Williams said. “I think that is going to be one of the things that is going to carries us far this season.”

Featured image: North Texas softball head coach Tracey Kee high fives sophomore Katie Clark as she runs home after hitting a home run against Tulsa on March 2 at Lovelace Stadium. Sara Carpenter

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Luis Diosdado

Luis Diosdado

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