North Texas Daily

RECAP: Softball sweeps Texas-El Paso behind Rainey’s bat

RECAP: Softball sweeps Texas-El Paso behind Rainey’s bat

RECAP: Softball sweeps Texas-El Paso behind Rainey’s bat
April 04
17:40 2022

Softball took all three games from the University of Texas-El Paso over the weekend behind redshirt sophomore outfielder Molly Rainey’s offensive production.

Rainey finished the series going 6-for-8 at the plate with two home runs and five RBIs against Texas El-Paso (12-23, 2-10 C-USA). She earned C-USA Player of the Week honors for her performance in helping North Texas (21-7, 10-2 C-USA) to its second sweep of the season and fourth-straight series win to open conference play.

“I feel like I have started to settle in [and] feel a lot more confident in what I got,” Rainey said. “[I] made some adjustments last week […] I’m getting in a groove.”

Game 1: North Texas 10, Texas-El Paso 2

Freshman right-handed pitcher Skylar Savage took the circle for the Mean Green in the series opener Friday night, pitching all six innings in the run-rule victory. Savage accumulated seven strikeouts, two walks and one earned run. Junior right-hander Zaylie Calderon started for the Miners, giving up five earned runs before being removed in the first inning in favor of the originally listed starter, junior righty Isabella Kelly.

The bulk of North Texas’ five first-inning runs came from senior third baseman Tayla Evans’ three-run homerun. Rainey lined a double in the first before getting picked off for the second out.  Relieving Calderon, Kelly got the final two outs of the inning for the Miners. Savage retired Texas-El Paso in four batters in the top of the second inning and kept them off the board until the fourth. 

Sophomore outfielder Lexi Morales walked to start the fourth inning, then stole second to get in scoring position. Morales moved to third after sophomore catcher Marijn Crouwel reached on an error, then a single up the middle scored Morales from third to get the Miners on the board for the first time.

Texas El-Paso struck again in the fifth inning on an RBI single from junior catcher Karina Somoza. In the bottom of the fifth, the Mean Green re-established their four-run lead after a Rainey sacrifice fly gave her the first of five RBIs on the weekend.

North Texas tacked on four more runs in the sixth and final inning. Freshman outfielder Sydney Ingle hit her first career home run and Rainey had a game-ending RBI sacrifice fly to end the contest via run-rule. Savage earned her seventh win of the season in the contest.

Sophomore catcher Ashlyn Walker exited the contest following the fourth inning after sustaining a hand injury. She did not play for the remainder of the series.

Game 2: North Texas 4, Texas-El Paso 2

North Texas’ leader in wins, junior left-hander Ashley Peters took the circle in game two of the series Saturday afternoon. Peters pitched 6.1 innings, striking out a career-high nine batters and surrendering two earned runs on four hits and five walks. Freshman right-hander Aalijah Alarcon pitched all six innings for the Miners, walking two and giving up four runs on seven hits.

After a runless top half for Peters, the Mean Green offense picked up where it left off on Friday, scoring a run on an RBI single sophomore first baseman Kailey Gamble. Texas El-Paso immediately responded in the top of the second, tying the game on an RBI single by sophomore outfielder Savannah Favre.

The score remained deadlocked at one until the bottom of the fifth inning, when sophomore outfielder Lexi Cobb doubled in Ingle followed by freshman shortstop Cierra Simon hitting Cobb in from second. Peters kept the Miners scoreless in the top of the sixth, which allowed the Mean Green to extend their lead to 4-1 with Rainey’s fourth home run of the season.

Peters ran into trouble in the top of the seventh, walking two batters and having two others reach on a single and fielder’s choice. Savage relieved Peters at that point and got Crouwel to ground out with the bases loaded and one out. The Miners scored a run on the play which was charged to Peters before Savage struck out sophomore infielder Anna Sample swinging to end the game. 

Peters earned win No. 11 on the season while Savage recorded her third save of the campaign. 

Game 3: North Texas 8, Texas-El Paso 2

Peters started her second game in two days for the series closer Sunday afternoon. The lefty pitched four innings, walked one, struck out four and allowed one run on a homer. Kelly started for the Miners, going 3.1 innings, walking three, striking out one and allowing one earned run on four hits.

The first inning saw no runs from either squad. Texas-El Paso took the first lead of the contest in the top of the second with a solo shot off the bat of redshirt junior infielder Pate Cathey. Peters retired the next two batters with two strikeouts and then got a groundout to keep the one-run deficit.

Rainey doubled in the bottom of the second on a pop up in the infield that the Miners could not corral, allowing her to take second as a fielder was not covering the bag. She ended up stranded at second after three groundouts in a row.

Texas-El Paso held the one-run lead until the fourth inning when North Texas scored two runs to pull ahead on an error that occurred as freshman infielder Emma Grahmann hit a grounder to first. Grahmann later ended the inning at the plate after she tried to score on a fielder’s choice groundout from sophomore catcher Kalei Christensen, but was tagged out at the plate.

Savage took the circle in the fifth inning for the Mean Green, relieving Peters. To start her outing, Savage gave up a home run to Sample to tie the game. She then regrouped after allowing a single, retiring the next three batters to end the inning.

North Texas scored two runs in the bottom of the fifth to take its second lead of a back-and-forth contest. Gamble started the rally with a leadoff solo shot that was followed by a Rainey walk, Ingle single and sophomore second baseman Mikayla Smith walk. Grahmann doubled to score Ingle from second. 

Christensen hit her team-leading 10th home run in the bottom of the sixth following a Simon walk to extend the Mean Green lead to six. Rainey then finished her week at the plate with her second home run of the weekend to make it an 8-2 lead heading into the final frame. 

Savage struck out two and forced a groundout to short to end the contest and complete the sweep for the Mean Green. She earned her eighth win after going three innings. 

“We did really well making adjustments at the plate and sticking to a plan,” Grahmann said. “It was a great team win, pitchers did good, defense did good and on the offensive side we came here ready to play and produced.”

North Texas heads down to San Antonio this weekend to face the University of Texas-San Antonio (10-20, 4-5 C-USA) in a three-game set. The Mean Green head into the series 0.5 games back from the University of Alabama-Birmingham (20-13, 8-1 C-USA) in the C-USA West Division standings.

“[Texas-San Antonio] is tough [in San Antonio], they swing the bat well,” head coach Rodney DeLong said. “It will definitely be a challenge […] it’s always rowdy when we go down there.”

Featured Image: Redshirt-sophomore outfielder Molly Rainey hits a double on April 3, 2022 at Lovelace Stadium. Photo by John Fields

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Reed Smith

Reed Smith

Senior Sports Writer.

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