North Texas Daily

Softball looks to climb out of slump in final month of regular season

Softball looks to climb out of slump in final month of regular season

Softball looks to climb out of slump in final month of regular season
April 06
14:00 2023

Nearly halfway through its regular season Conference USA slate, softball has endured a slump, losing seven of its last nine games. 

North Texas (21-19, 6-6 C-USA) sits even in C-USA play at 6-6, and is sixth in the conference standings. The Mean Green was projected to finish first in the C-USA preseason polls. After losing six straight, North Texas has won two of its last three games as it tries to recapture momentum.

“It’s not there yet, but we’re getting there,” head coach Rodney DeLong said. “We’ve got to put things together, we have to have a little more success.”

The Mean Green’s losing streak from March 22-29 was the longest of DeLong’s tenure at the university. Previously, a DeLong-led North Texas team only lost three straight. Junior catcher Kalei Christensen said the adversity the team is facing is indicative of the schedule being sufficiently “tough.”

“I think we’re in good shape for what’s about to come,” Christensen said. “At the end of the day, when you get on a hot streak, we’re wanting to stay on a hot streak — now that we have our confidence, we will slowly get into it.”

Errors have been a key issue for the Mean Green this season. Through 40 games, the team has 44 errors, which ranks second to last in C-USA. Under DeLong, North Texas has never finished in the bottom three of fielding in the conference. 

Senior left-handed pitcher Ashley Peters has seen the effect of errors. Peters has appeared 19 times for the Mean Green this season and ranks second in earned-run average with an 1.87 mark. Of the 30 runs she has surrendered, only 20 have been earned. 

Peters’ co-ace from 2022, sophomore right-handed pitcher Skylar Savage, is 6-3 on the season with a 4.02 ERA. Savage gave up eight earned runs during the Western Kentucky series — she did not appear in the following four games. 

Savage picked up a win on Tuesday against Tarleton State University. She pitched six innings and surrendered two runs in her sixth victory of the season. 

“I’ve just been working on my confidence,” Savage said. “I’m not lacking anything but confidence lately, so I’ve just been working for outs, working for my team.”

Christensen and junior first baseman Kailey Gamble lead the team in batting. Gamble’s 13 home runs are tied for seventh most in Division I. The pair — who often bat next to each other in the lineup — have a combined 60 runs batted in 2023. 

The next closest to Gamble and Christensen in team offensive production is sophomore shortstop Cierra Simon, who has a .307 batting average with 19 RBIs. No other batters on the team are above the .300 batting average mark as North Texas bats .260 collectively. During the team’s six-game losing streak, they scored eight runs. Christensen said the team is starting to come around offensively. 

“We’re piecing it together and a lot of us look competent in the box,” Christensen said. “If that continues to keep rolling, we’re going to be in good shape.”

With a trip to El Paso, Texas this weekend, the Mean Green will try to capitalize on the midweek win they picked up against Tarleton State. The University of Texas-El Paso is third in C-USA in batting average at a .290 mark. 

“It’s going to be tough, always tough on the road,” DeLong said. “[Texas-El Paso] swings the bat really well — the ball flies down there. We’re going to have to figure it out offensively, because we’re going to have to hit with them.”

As North Texas looks to improve from recent play, Savage said the team is trying to keep spirits high. 

“We’re just trying not to stay down on ourselves,” Savage said. “We know we’re all kind of struggling a little bit — we just try to focus on the positives and hype each other up.”

Featured Image Ashley Peters pitches a ball toward Wichita State on Feb. 25, 2023. Maria Crane

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Reed Smith

Reed Smith

sports editor

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