North Texas Daily

Mean Green softball gearing up for fall season

Mean Green softball gearing up for fall season

Mean Green softball gearing up for fall season
September 30
19:05 2019

North Texas softball is planning to build off of the momentum from last year as they prepare for their fall season.

In his first season with the Mean Green, head coach Rodney Delong led his team to a 35-19 overall record, going 19-5 in Conference USA. They finished first in conference standings and won the consolation bracket of the conference championship.

“I feel like we hit a home run, so to speak, in year one with this group,” Delong said.

This spring he wants win the conference championship and continue to push to regionals and compete for the NCAA championship.

“That’s kinda where we’re setting our sights, and I think it’s a realistic goal and hopefully we stay healthy and work hard and we’ll see what happens,” Delong said.

The team added seven freshmen and two new players. Delong said they each have successful playing history and individual talents that will bring depth to the roster. 

One freshman, utility player Saleen Donohoe, has local and international experience. As a sophomore in high school, she was an all-state pitcher and two-time pitcher of the year in her district and two-time MVP. 

This year she represented the Mexico U19 national team for the WBSC Women’s Softball World Cup and hopes to play in the 2020 Olympics.

“It’s a big difference from high school definitely because the time difference and the teamwork with the girls like it’s so different from high school,” Donohoe said. “Here, you see them like every day and then at [high] school, it’s just like [one] hour.”

Donohoe said she will “probably, hopefully,” be starting in the infield, where she mainly plays third base and shortstop. 

Senior outfielder Katie Clark said she’s looking forward to playing with the new girls and she wants to make sure that they build as a unit. She said she has seen the mindset of the team change over the years

“When I first got here it was kind of laid back and chill,” Clark said. “I think everybody has a sense of urgency now and we know we can win, we know we can do well and our coaches really believe in us.”

Last spring, Clark led the team in batting average (.404) and was named to the All-Conference First Team. In 2018, she was the C-USA Newcomer of the Year and led the team in on-base percentage (.410). 

“The atmosphere and the culture we’re building here is just so much different than when I first got here,” Clark said. 

Senior infielder Lacy Gregory said that bringing in the new coaching staff brought positive vibes to the team. She said that the seniors who graduated left a good foundation for this year’s team. Prior to last year, the Mean Green had a losing record in 2017 and 2018. 

“My freshman and sophomore year, the team was just kind of stuck in a rut,” Gregory said.

In 2017, Gregory was named to the C-USA All-Freshman team. She holds the North Texas record for RBIs, number of hits and total bases in a single game. She’s been named C-USA Player of the Week twice.

Gregory said she thinks of herself as one of the leaders of the team and she expects them to win the “big-time games” that will lead them to the regional and super-regional championships.

“Winning is a new standard for us,” Gregory said.

Throughout the month of October, North Texas plays eight doubleheaders, seven of which are at their home field, Lovelace Field. The lone away game will be in Norman, Oklahoma against the No. 2 Oklahoma Sooners.

DeLong plans to use the fall season to see where the team stands and what they need to improve on. He said he wants to get the freshmen up to speed. He also wants to help his players stay healthy by hitting the weight room to prepare for the spring.

“We’re trying to make the fall hard, the weight room hard, because our spring schedule is hard and it’s gonna challenge us,” Delong said. “Our mental toughness was a concern for us moving into this year so we’re really trying to incorporate some of that into the weight room.”

DeLong said that he’s excited to be playing in front of Mean Green fans for most of the fall season. However, he said that home-heavy fall seasons are typical for good teams and that it’s a way to save money.

None of the fall games are against C-USA teams. The series against Oklahoma and Oklahoma State are the Mean Green’s sole matches against Power Five teams.

The Mean Green’s first game is on Oct. 1 against Murray State College at Lovelace Field.

Featured ImageLacy Gregory hustles to the dug out during the Mean Green’s game against Northwestern State on Feb. 17, 2019.  Kara Dry/File Image

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Jasmine Robinson

Jasmine Robinson

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