North Texas Daily

Recap: Softball splits opening conference series against Alabama-Birmingham

Recap: Softball splits opening conference series against Alabama-Birmingham

Recap: Softball splits opening conference series against Alabama-Birmingham
April 05
15:52 2021

Friday and Saturday, North Texas softball kicked off Conference USA play at home, splitting the four-game series against the University of Alabama-Birmingham. The Mean Green lost both games on Friday but proceeded to bounce back by winning both of Saturday’s contests.

Game 1 (April 2): UAB 3, North Texas 2

Senior Hope Trautwein took the circle for North Texas (16-9, C-USA 2-2), going five innings, walking one, striking out two and surrendering one run on five hits. Freshman RHP Jaycee Cook started for Alabama-Birmingham (15-15, C-USA 2-2), pitching five innings, walking one, striking out two and giving up two runs on four hits. Both starters gained no decisions for the contest.

The North Texas offense attacked Cook early, as the bottom of the first saw junior infielder Tayla Evans hit her fourth home run of the season, giving the Mean Green an early 2-0 lead.

A pitcher’s battle, the game remained 2-0 until the top of the fifth, when redshirt junior infielder KK Crocker hit a leadoff home run to get the Blazers within one.

In her final inning of work, Trautwein would load the bases in the fifth after the home run, but ultimately escape the inning with her second strikeout of the game.

Following an error in the sixth that allowed Evans to reach first, head coach of the Blazers, Joe Guthrie made a call to his bullpen, bringing in redshirt senior RHP Parker Conrad. The decision resulted with Conrad retiring the next three Mean Green batters to end the sixth inning.

Wall ran into trouble in the top of the seventh, walking the leadoff batter, then surrendering a single and a hit-by-pitch to load the bases.

Alabama-Birmingham took the lead on a single by freshman infielder Sam Bean, that was tapped in front of freshman catcher Ashlyn Walker. With the runner coming in from third, the throw had to be quick — it was not.

Walker was not able to get the ball to Evans at first quick enough, which allowed Bean to reach first base safely on a close play. There was confusion about the safe call at first, which caused Evans to hold the ball for a few seconds, which in turn allowed the go-ahead run to score from second for UAB.

Down 3-2, the Mean Green rallied with two outs in the bottom of the seventh. Redshirt freshman Molly Rainey reached on a two-out double, then advanced to third on a wild pitch from Conrad. However, graduate Tuesday DerMargosian flew out to end the game, stranding Rainey at third.

Wall got her fifth loss of the season after pitching two innings, while Conrad was scored her fourth win.

Game 2 (April 2): UAB 5, North Texas 1

After a two-inning loss in the first game of the doubleheader, Wall started the second game for the Mean Green, facing off against junior RHP Amy Woodham.

Wall pitched four innings, walking two and earning two runs and the loss in the contest. Wall’s counterpart, Woodham pitched the first inning, walking four, striking out one and earning one run. Woodham would return for the seventh inning, giving up a hit, striking one out and scoring the hold for the Blazers.

The first inning saw all six runs in the game cross the plate.

Six of the first nine batters reached in the first for the Blazers, with the first three reaching via a base hit. Fielding miscues would allow the Blazers to score three on Wall, then a couple more would be added on a single.

After the miscues in the top of the inning, DeLong made changes to his defense, subbing in senior infielder Kourtney Williams at shortstop for freshman infielder Candain Callahan. This swapped freshman infielder Kailey Gamble with Evans, putting Evans at third and Gamble at first.

North Texas’ only run of the preceding came in the bottom of the first after an errant throw on a double steal by sophomore catcher Sierra Frazier, which allowed Rainey — who reached on a walk–to score.

Junior RHP Emily Kachel came into the game in the second inning for the Blazers, retiring North Texas in four batters.

Wall pitched until the fifth inning, making way for freshman Janie Worthington, who pitched the rest of the game, allowing one hit with one strikeout.

The rest of the game was an offensive stalemate for both sides of the ball, with pitchers from both sides shutting down the opposition. In a surprise move, Woodham returned to the mound in the bottom of the seventh and put the Mean Green in a hitting drought.

Wall suffered her second loss of the day and her sixth of the year, while Kachel scored her third win of the season in a game that ended 5 runs to 1 in favor of the Blazers.

“We have to let go of today, that’s why we play the amount of games we do in a season,” Head coach Rodney DeLong said following Friday night’s two losses. “It’s a day-to-day thing and we have to come out and play better tomorrow.”

Game 3 (April 3): UAB 1, North Texas 6

Much to the delight of DeLong, the Mean Green would follow up Friday’s losses with a win to start the day.

“[North Texas] threw the ball really well today, had some timely hits, [and] hit some timely home runs,” DeLong said. “Played good defense, for the most part, all day.”

The noon opener on Saturday would see Trautwein start her second game of the series following a no-decision in her first start of the weekend. A vastly improved offense and stellar pitching from Trautwein earned the senior her fifth win after pitching a complete game, striking out seven, and allowing a run on four hits. Conrad started the game for Alabama-Birmingham, going 2.1 innings, striking out three, allowing three runs on four hits and earning her third loss of the season.

“I came out with a fire,” Trautwein said. “I don’t like losing on our field.”

The momentum that ignited Trautwein seemed to spread to the entire team as the Mean Green offense that scored three runs the entire day on Friday doubled that tally in the first game on Saturday.

Before the offense took the field, Trautwein gave away the first and only Blazers run during the contest on a sac fly to center by redshirt senior Analyse Petree in the top of the first inning.

The score would remain 1-0 with the Blazers leading until the bottom of the third inning when the Mean Green partook in the old baseball homage of a “bloop and a blast.”

The bloop was provided by Callahan, while the blast was the responsibility of freshman infielder Mikayla Smith. The two-run home run was Smith’s first of the season and gave North Texas a lead the team did not surrender for the remainder of the game. Rainey then added a home run of her own directly following Smith’s, giving Trautwein a three-run cushion heading into the top of the fourth.

Smith was not done at the plate, as the freshman blasted her second two-run home run of the game over the centerfield wall in the bottom of the fourth, increasing the Mean Green lead to 5-1.

North Texas would add one more in the bottom of the sixth after a Callahan double-scored pinch-running freshman infielder Katy Truitt from second.

After a steady day of play, Trautwein finished the game with a Crocker fly out.

Game 4 (April 3): UAB 1, North Texas 2

After a one-sided game to start the day, the second game told a completely different story.

Freshman lefty Janie Worthington gained the start for North Texas, going 4.2 innings, striking out six, and earning her third win of the season. Woodham got her second start of the series for the Blazers, vastly improving from her first performance. The junior righty pitched all six innings for Alabama-Birmingham, fanning five Mean Green batters, surrendering two runs on three hits, and earning her eighth loss of the season.

North Texas attacked Woodham early, gaining the lead in the bottom of the first via a two-run home run for Evans — her fifth on the season.

Worthington looked steady on the mound until the fourth inning when the young lefty allowed an RBI single by sophomore outfielder Faith Hegh that scored the Blazer’s only run of the game.

Worthington ran into trouble again in the fifth, following a two-out walk and single that put runners at the corners. Wall would relieve Worthington and strike out sophomore catcher Sierra Frazier.

In a dire moment in the top of the sixth inning, Rainey dove to make a play in right but caught her glove under her body, leaving the redshirt sophomore uncomfortable. As a precaution, Rainey was subbed out for freshman Lexi Cobb. Following the game, DeLong said that Rainey “just jammed it,” avoiding any serious injury.

Trautwein was brought out of the bullpen to close out the game for the Mean Green, which she was able to do after striking Crocker out swinging.

“It was big-time for our group to come back today and win two games,” DeLong said.

Up Next: North Texas goes on a 10-game road trip, starting with a weekend visit to Pine Bluff, Arkansas to take on the University of Arkansas-Pine Bluff (1-16, SWAC 1-6) in a three-game weekend series beginning on April 10.

Featured Image: Senior pitcher Hope Trautwein prepares to throw the ball during a game on Feb. 26, 2021. Image by Preston Rios

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Reed Smith

Reed Smith

sports editor

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