North Texas Daily

Key takeaways from softball’s opening weekend

Key takeaways from softball’s opening weekend

February 14
16:31 2018

Softball played the Mardi Gras Classic last week in Monroe, Louisiana, working with several new tools in three games. The Mean Green left Monroe with one win and two losses along with plenty of takeaways.

Defense

This was the focal point of the team after head coach Tracey Kee headed back to Denton with those two losses. In the Mean Green’s 12-10 loss to the University of Louisiana at Monroe, they racked up five errors leading to four opposing runs.

“Defensively, I was completely disappointed,” Kee said. “We drill our defense so hard and for us to not be able to make the simple plays really costs us.”

In the following game against Central Arkansas, North Texas carried a 4-2 lead with no errors into the final inning, and all signs pointing to its first win of the season.

However, two errors in the final frame allowed Central Arkansas to come back and get the walk-0ff victory.

In Friday’s win against Tennessee-Martin, the error bug did not completely forgo North Texas, as they committed two more in the match up, putting their team total up to nine for the weekend.

“We’ve been working on it, and we will have it fixed going into Elon this weekend,” Kee said.

Offense

Headlined by sophomore infielder Lacy Gregory’s monster performance, North Texas put up 19 runs on 26 hits in the three games. Ten different Mean Green players got a hit, and eight different players scored a run.

“Coach [Natalie] Kozlowski has really worked hard on the hitters’ mental approach,” Kee said. “I thought she had them completely prepped for the type of pitching we saw.”

Lacy had the hot bat, going 7-for-10 with four doubles, two home runs and 12 RBI’s in that three game span.

“One of our approaches is to score early,” Lacy said. “We never really want to give the other team a chance to think that they are in the game.”

However, Lacy was not the only one to do damage with the bat. Sophomore Hannah Rebar homered twice in the tournament, while junior infielder Sam Rea made her presence known with a home run of her own, her first in a Mean Green uniform.

Situational Hitting

Kee and her coaching staff pride themselves on the small ball mentality and see it as the most important aspect when it comes to winning games. This means being unselfish and moving runners over into scoring position.

“For us, it’s our bread and butter,” Kee said. “We’re typically not a team that’s going to live off of the long ball. Our kids understand the whole philosophy of ‘get them on, get them over, get them in.'”

Freshman utility Kourtney Williams made a pivotal impact in the game against Tennessee-Martin by getting on base twice. Williams walked her first at-bat and got on base with a hit her second time. Both times Williams reached base, she was bunted over by sophomore utility Lindsay Gregory and then immediately driven in by Lacy to contribute to two of the five runs.

Pitching

Coming in to this season, Kee was given a fresh deck with three new freshman pitchers making up a brand new rotation.

With freshman pitcher Ally Lindsay out with an injury for the opening tournament, Kee was forced to roll with two freshman pitchers — Hope Trautwein and Maria Priest — to start out. Both girls struggled in their starts, but also showed glimpses of solid pitching in relief.

Priest started game one and only survived 2.0 innings while giving up nine runs, only five of which were earned runs. Trautwein came in as relief and slowed down a good hitting team, allowing just three runs on two hits for the remainder of the game.

Both girls made adjustments in the next two games and settled down. Against Tennessee-Martin, Trautwein started strong, going 4.2 innings with five strikeouts and two runs on four hits allowed. Priest came in and allowed just three hits and no runs to get the save.

“From the first game to the next two, it really just allowed me to find a groove and make adjustments,” Priest said. “After that first game, I was able to take a step back and say ‘okay I’ve done it, now I know what to do’ and make those adjustments.”

Lindsey is expected to come into the rotation and add that much needed third arm for Kee and her defense this coming weekend. North Texas starts the Elon Tournament on Friday at 11:15 a.m. against Bowling Green.

“We only had two girls available to start these games, and I think for us, we’re going to need that third arm going forward,” Kee said. “Getting Ally back will be a big key for this weekend.”

Featured image: At the 12 p.m. softball game versus UTEP on Saturday, March 11, 2017, Head Coach Tracey Kee directs the UNT players next to bat. 

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Luis Diosdado

Luis Diosdado

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