Softball hitting coach reunites with Tracey Kee

Softball hitting coach reunites with Tracey Kee

Softball hitting coach reunites with Tracey Kee
March 04
22:48 2015

Reece Waddell / Staff Writer

During practice on a cold, rainy day at Apogee Stadium, softball associate head coach Natalie Kozlowski can be found walking from station to station, encouraging players as she goes. In her first year at North Texas, Kozlowski has already made an impact on the team and has reunited with an old colleague: head coach Tracey Kee.

“It’s heaven,” Kozlowski said. “It’s like being a recruit. [Kee] and I have the same style, same coaching philosophies and coming to North Texas just seemed like the perfect fit.”

A graduate of Hofstra University, Kozlowski was a standout softball player during her college days. She earned most improved player of the East Coast Conference as a freshman and by her senior year was an All-Conference selection. Last summer, Kozlowski was hired by Kee to serve as the associate head coach and hitting coach.

Prior to coming to North Texas, Kozlowski served as the director of education for the National Fastpitch Coaches Association in Louisville, Kentucky, and was an assistant coach at Eastern Carolina University under Kee for 12 years.

“[Kee] was huge in me eventually choosing UNT because she was here,” Kozlowski said. “She and I had a lot of success at ECU and I want to continue that here. I wanted to come to a place where I would help and have an impact.”

While at ECU, Kee and Kozlowski led the Pirates to four NCAA Softball Tournament appearances and won the NFCA Mid-West Coaching Staff of the Year award twice. Kozlowski served as the hitting coach at ECU as well, so her duties at North Texas come as nothing new. She said the hitting coach position was one that fell into her lap.

“Coach Kee and I split the duties,” Kozlowski said. “She was in charge of pitching and we split defense. I just sort of ended up as the hitting coach because offense and batting have always been something I have been passionate about.”

Kee said bringing on Kozlowski has made coaching much easier this year and helps with the chemistry of the team.

“Having a coach that knows the scheme you want to run is huge,” Kee said. “It makes my life a lot easier because she can just come in and coach. It’s been a lot of fun.”

Kozlowski has already been able to work with players such as junior utiltiy player Taylor Schoblocher. Through 16 games, Schoblocher is hitting .662, and has 23 RBI along with eight homeruns. Kozlowski said she was aware of Schoblocher’s struggles from a year ago and that she only needed a few minor adjustments.

“I don’t know how much of her success should be attributed to my coaching,” Kozlowski said. “Taylor is a talented hitter. She’s always been talented. I think she just needed a fresh set of eyes on her. She worked really hard in the offseason and made some key adjustments. Obviously it’s paid off.”

Schoblocher said her swing has improved because of the mechanical work Kozlowski coached her on.

“Coach Kozlowski really helped me stay on top of the little things and she helps me feel confident in the box,” Schoblocher said. “The biggest thing she’s helped with is just staying calm and collected and letting everything work together.”

Senior infielder Dani Hoff said despite having done things a certain way for four years, bringing in Kozlowski has not been that big of a change. She said Kozlowski fits into the team’s system well and is willing to work with each player.

“Coach Koz does a really good job of meeting hitters where they are,” Hoff said. “It isn’t a ‘cookie cutter’ swing with every hitter. All of our hitters hit a little bit differently. For me personally, she has just made a couple of tweaks here and there so it made it really easy for me to adjust.”

For Kozlowski, her focus remains the same. She said she is concentrated on winning and helping the players to the best of her ability.

“Our goal is to win. In order to do that, we have to hit. That’s my job,” Kozlowski said

Featured Image: Associate coach Natalie Kozlowski, left, and head coach Tracy Kee watch their players during a practice. Photo courtesy of AJ Strunk/Mean Green Sports

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