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Pitching shines for North Texas in back-to-back victories

Pitching shines for North Texas in back-to-back victories

March 24
20:16 2018

It wouldn’t be a North Texas softball game without a little drama involved and there was plenty to go around as the Mean Green topped the Louisiana Tech University in back-to-back games, 6-2 and 4-3.

This is the first series so far in Conference USA action that the Mean Green (15-15, 5-3) have a chance for the weekend sweep and their first victory over Louisiana Tech (16-16, 4-4) in the last nine attempts.

“There was some nerves today because we do understand how good LA Tech is,” head coach Tracey Kee said. “These first two games were truly a challenge for us.”

North Texas 6, Louisiana Tech 2

The Mean Green utilized both the long ball and the sacrifice bunt to lead to its six runs in their win over the Lady Techsters. With three sac bunts and a pair of home runs, it was your typical day for Kee and her offense.

“People we think we have the ability to hit the long ball, but we also have the ability to move our runners around,” Kee said. “When you see the scoreboard and getting one run an inning, its really just moving people over and getting that clutch hit.”

Freshman pitcher Hope Trautwein started the game for the Mean Green and continued to stay hot as she went 6.o innings while only allowing two runs with three strikeouts. LA Tech was able to string together multiple hits and threaten Trautwein at times, but she kept her composure and got out of those situations.

“I just take every pitch on its own,” Trautwein said. “Every pitch has a purpose and that’s just to either get a strike out or get an easy ball for my defense, so I just really try to focus on that.”

The Lady Techsters opened up the scoring in the second inning, but sophomore outfielder Hanna Rebar responded by launching her team-high ninth home run to even up the score.

The Mean Green were kept silent until the fifth inning, but that is when junior third baseman Harley Perella made some noise with her fourth long ball of the season.

Perella’s home run sparked the three run inning, as sophomore outfielder Katie Clark and sophomore shortstop Lindsay Gregory also drove in runs with a pair of singles.

“I think we were very well prepared for the pitchers and what they were going to throw at us,” Perella said. “We knew their strategies they have used against us in previous years. It was just a matter of putting the bat on the ball and making something happen.”

North Texas 4, LA Tech 3

In a season where North Texas has let a few games slip in the late innings, the Mean Green were able to avoid an Louisiana Tech comeback in the final inning and leave the field with momentum heading into Sunday.

Freshman pitcher Maria Preist entered the seventh inning with a 4-1 lead backing her up and hopes of finishing off the complete game victory. Unfortunately, a pair of walks and a base hit loaded up the bases with nobody out and the chance of the entire game changing with just one swing of the bat.

Priest would be replaced with Trautwein and Trautwein did not have immediate success. Despite getting the first hitter she faced to pop out, the Lady Techsters drove in a run on a single and a walk to bring the game to within one run.

However, the young freshman forced the next batter to line out to junior first baseman Rhylie Makawe, who would quickly turn around and go full extension to tag the runner on the first to end the game.

“Rhylie Makawe is just an unbeliever player,” Kee said. “I knew as soon as the ball went into her glove that she was going to make the tag she needed to make.”

Even though the Mean Green had a total of four errors on the day, Makawe’s clutch play highlighted the trust that has been built between the pitching staff and the defense.

“I always have confidence in my defense,” Trautwein said. “Coach Kee came out before that play and told me to just throw my pitches and let my defense work. That’s exactly what they did to get me out of that.”

On the other side of the ball, sophomore second baseman Lacy Gregory topped off a big offensive day for the Mean Green with her performance, going 2-for-3 with a key solo home run that gave North Texas its fourth run of the game.

North Texas now enters Sunday’s game with Louisiana Tech’s backs against the wall as the Mean Green hope to  continue to improve their conference record.

“Tomorrow, they’re going to go out there in a must win,” Kee said. “For us, we need to do the same thing. Every win early in conference takes the pressure off down the road.”

Up Next: North Texas will wrap up the series with LA Tech at Lovelace Stadium at 1 p.m on Sunday.

Featured image: In the fourth inning of the Sunday March 12, 2017 softball game versus UTEP, UNT Sophomore Rhylie Makawe (left) catches the ball and sends UTEP Sophomore Lindsey Sokoloski (right) back to the dugout for the first out of the inning.

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Luis Diosdado

Luis Diosdado

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