North Texas Daily

Softball enters new year looking for first winning season since 2013-2014

Softball enters new year looking for first winning season since 2013-2014

January 31
17:20 2018

It has been a year of turnarounds for North Texas athletic programs, and after struggling last season, Mean Green softball is hoping to be the latest team to put together a bounce-back campaign worthy of turning heads.

Head coach Tracey Kee, who is back under a one-year contract, has more than enough confidence that this year’s young team can turn a 25-31 record into a successful upcoming season and follow in the footsteps of the fall sports’ success.

Twelve of the 19 players on the team this year are underclassmen, leaving a lack of experience for Kee to work with but the veteran coach is confident the group will adjust well through a tough non-conference schedule this spring.

“I really like this group,” Kee said. “They may be young, but they’re excited, enthusiastic and very competitive. They just need to be able to carry over those characteristics into the games.”

While the inexperience may present an initial challenge, this year’s team will consist of some new faces that could really be used to the Mean Green’s advantage. Six freshmen and three transfer athletes should give the team some key depth this year.

Last season’s pitching staff struggled to keep opponents off the base path, and North Texas finished No. 11 in C-USA with a team ERA of 4.30. With three new freshmen pitchers — Ally Lindsey, Hope Trautwein and Maria Priest — the Mean Green have some fresh arms nobody in the conference has seen yet.

“We’re really going to have to depend on those three for sure,” junior outfielder Hannah Gerecke said. “It’s the rest of the team’s job to show them our support and make sure they have the confidence to out there and pitch their game.”

Being one of the more experienced members of the bunch, Gerecke also noted the newcomers are not the only players who are going to be big for the team. Sophomore Lacy Gregory was a pre-season All-Conference USA selection after leading the squad in RBIs and doubles last year and returns as a key piece in Kee’s lineup.

One of the most important strengths of the bunch will be a deeper lineup around Gregory and company this season.

“This is going to be a team where you can’t just shut down one player,” Kee said. “In the past, we’ve usually had a problem where if you shut down one player, then you can have good success against us but I think we have a lot of kids that are going to put up big numbers. It’s hard to identify just one player — it’s going to take this whole unit to win some games.”

Winning consistently is something North Texas has struggled with over the last few years, as the Mean Green has not had a winning season since 2014.

North Texas has especially struggled on the road, which sophomore Camille Grahmann sees as a key focus for the upcoming season after the team went 4-21 on the road last year. Grahmann emphasized that mark needs to be much improved if the girls are going to be taken more seriously and make a run in C-USA.

“We were only able to win one game on the road in conference last year, and that really hurt us,” Grahmann said. “I think winning some more games on the road and playing small ball will help us greatly.”

The Mean Green will begin their season at the Mardi Gras Classic on Feb. 9 in Louisiana against competition that should allow the team to build some early momentum. North Texas will take on Prairie View A&M, Grambling State, UT-Martin, Chattanooga and Monroe in the opening tournament.

The schedule gets significantly more difficult from there though, as the team will take on teams like Baylor and the defending national champions, Oklahoma.

“I really think anybody can beat anybody on a given day,” Kee said. “We’re going to have to play our best whether it is a small school or not. There will obviously be some nerves at the beginning, but hopefully the girls will rev up as the season goes. We’re just ready to finally put on a uniform, push up the energy and show what we can do.”

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Luis Diosdado

Luis Diosdado

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