North Texas Daily

Softball downs UT Martin to begin weekend homestand

Softball downs UT Martin to begin weekend homestand

The North Texas softball team stands at the edge of the infield for the playing of the alma mater after a win against the University of Tennesee-Martin during the Mean Green Spring Fling Tournament. Dylan Nadwodny | Staff Photographer

Softball downs UT Martin to begin weekend homestand
March 04
19:41 2016

Reece Waddell | Senior Staff Writer

@ReeceTapout15

Kelli Schkade’s dominance at the dish continued on Friday afternoon at Lovelace Stadium.

The junior infielder not only extended her school-record hitting streak to 15 games, but launched a towering home run over the center field wall to complete a four-run North Texas rally. The Mean Green (9-6) went on to beat the University of Tennessee at Martin 8-4.

“I’m seeing beach balls, really,” Schkade said.

North Texas got into a quick deficit in the top of the first inning to give the Skyhawks (10-6) an early lead. The trouble began with an error by freshman utility player Rhylie Makawe, putting a runner on base that scored on a home run off of freshman pitcher Lauren Craine.

Freshman pitcher Lauren Craine (10) throws a pitch towards home plate against the University of Tennesee-Martin during the Mean Green Spring Fling Tournament. Dylan Nadwodny | Staff Photographer

Freshman pitcher Lauren Craine (10) throws a pitch towards home plate against the University of Tennesee-Martin during the Mean Green Spring Fling Tournament. Dylan Nadwodny | Staff Photographer

Craine continued to struggle as she gave up another two-run home run two batters later, but managed to battle back, holding Tennessee-Martin scoreless over the next 2.1 innings.

“It was huge,” head coach Tracy Kee said. “I was trying to get Lauren out there and through that first inning. I had the upmost confidence in our offense.”

The bats got going quickly, though. Schkade led off the bottom of the first with a single, starting a North Texas rally that loaded the bases.

The Mean Green got its first run when senior third baseman Karly Williams was hit by a pitch – a call the Skyhawks’ head coach argued, saying her bat went around. After a five-minute conference with the umpires, play resumed with freshman utility player Harley Perella flaring a bloop single up the middle to score another run.

Both sides went quietly in the second inning, and Craine got her only 1-2-3 inning of the game in the top of third, needing just eight pitches to sit Tennessee-Martin down in order.

North Texas put across another run in the bottom of the third on a Williams delayed steal that brought home junior outfielder Danielle Gregory. Williams got caught in a run-down, but extended the play just long enough for Gregory to score, something Kee said was by design.

“She did a wonderful job of executing it,” Kee said. “It’s not something I like to do. I prefer to drive that run in, but at this point we were just scratching at any run we could possibly get.”

Freshman right fielder Makenzi Dawson (12) stands in the batters box against the University of Tennesee-Martin during the Mean Green Spring Fling Tournament. Dylan Nadwodny | Staff Photographer

Freshman right fielder Makenzi Dawson (12) stands in the batters box against the University of Tennesee-Martin during the Mean Green Spring Fling Tournament. Dylan Nadwodny | Staff Photographer

Craine’s day was done an inning later when Kee brought in junior relief pitcher Jessica Elder to close the door. Craine went 3.1 innings and gave up four runs on five hits.

Elder was forced to make a play minutes after taking the mound, snagging a line drive out of the air to save at least one run to get out of the inning unscathed. It would be the first of four scoreless innings she would pitch en route to the victory.

“It’s really important for me to come in as relief and do my job to calm everyone down,” Elder said. “As soon as the ball left her bat, I knew it was coming straight for me. So it was a matter of getting the glove out there as fast as I could to catch the ball.”

North Texas completed its rally in the bottom of the fourth when Schkade launched her seventh home run of the year to give her team a 6-4 lead. The Mean Green never looked back, adding insurance runs in the fifth and sixth innings to knock off the Skyhawks.

“Everyone in the lineup stepped up today,” Schkade said. “I think we just pretended like it was 0-0 and just put as many numbers on the board as we could.”

Next up: North Texas hosts Nicholls State University at 2:30 p.m. and Tennessee-Martin at 4:30 p.m. in a Saturday doubleheader to continue the Mean Green Spring Fling.

Featured Image: The North Texas softball team stands at the edge of the infield for the playing of the alma mater after a win against the University of Tennesee-Martin during the Mean Green Spring Fling Tournament. Dylan Nadwodny | Staff Photographer

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