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‘Maintaining consistency’: Softball hopes to capitalize on last season’s success

‘Maintaining consistency’: Softball hopes to capitalize on last season’s success

‘Maintaining consistency’: Softball hopes to capitalize on last season’s success
October 21
14:00 2021

This story has been updated to reflect Ashley Peter’s correct classification and dominant pitching hand.

Following its best season in its history, softball has begun the fall season, giving the team which has undergone a staff change a chance to play competitively before the spring campaign. 

The last season for softball was unprecedented, as the team won a record 38 games in the season, 18-straight conference games and recorded the first 21-strikeout perfect game in NCAA softball history, a feat achieved by RHP Hope Trautwein. The team came away with the Conference USA regular-season title but fell to Western Kentucky University in the C-USA championship tournament.

Softball now finds itself in a transitional period for its pitching staff, with Trautwein transferring to University of Oklahoma with one more year of eligibility and RHP Gigi Wall’s eligibility running out. Juniors RHP Ariel Thompson and RHP Bailey Tindell also transferred from the university. 

To fill in the gaps in the rotation, head coach Rodney DeLong has utilized the transfer portal to add a couple of RHP pitchers to the squad: sophomore Jaycee Cook from the University of Alabama Birmingham and junior Ashley Peters from Purdue University to compliment reigning C-USA Freshman of The Year, sophomore LHP Janie Worthington. 

While the new pitching staff has a tough act to follow, DeLong believes that the experience his pitchers have and the skill they possess is enough to put them in a position to win.

“They don’t have to be statistically one of the best pitching staffs in the country for us to be successful,” DeLong said. “They got good stuff, they got a good base, they are going to be competitive and give us a chance.”

While Cook has not been able to throw in the fall due to an injury, Peters has been able to play and has impressed DeLong with her work ethic.

“Ashley [Peters] has been really really good,” DeLong said. “Kid knows how to work, she’s got good stuff…I’m excited about what she brings.”

Texas is an entirely new state for Peters as the left-handed pitcher is from Illinois originally, and lived in Indiana in her time at Purdue. With an entirely new place and new team to get used to, Peters says that she is taking in the new experience well.

“I’ve been adjusting really well,” Peters said. “I feel like I came in positive and competed really hard. I’ve built really good relationships with a lot of girls on the team and they were super welcoming.”

One of the players Peters has become well-acquainted with is her battery-mate sophomore catcher Ashlyn Walker. 

Walker is part of a UNT offense that was fairly young last season, with mostly freshman and sophomore making up the makeup of the roster. Standouts like junior outfielder Molly Rainey and sophomore first baseman Kailey Gamble added pop to a regular-season conference winning offense. With a season under their belt, Walker feels like what was once an over-performing young lineup is now a more confident one. 

“I think we have a lot more confidence in general,” Walker said. “Last season the big teams [UNT] played, it was tough, but I think it gave us some good experience.”

North Texas softball is currently three games into fall ball, an exhibition “season” that gives a chance for NCAA teams to play competitive games before spring. 

So far in fall ball, North Texas has decisively beaten both Southern Nazarene College 15-2 and narrowly beat Seminole State College 6-3. 

“It’s been good [getting the players] in the mix,” DeLong said about his team playing in fall. “Team is playing well, working hard, doing well in the weight room and staying fairly healthy.”

With a team that still has room to grow, DeLong is confident that his team can establish themselves during fall ball and stay competitive in the spring.

“Our future is bright,” DeLong said. “It’s really [the players] learning how to maintain consistency through a tough schedule and moving forward and moving on with our ultimate goals in the next two years.”

Featured Image: North Texas outfielder Kalei Christensen (14) slides into home during a game versus the University of Southern Mississippi on April 24, 2021. Photo by Zach Del Bello

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Reed Smith

Reed Smith

Senior Sports Writer.

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