North Texas Daily

Softball loses 12th game in a row, swept by UTEP

Softball loses 12th game in a row, swept by UTEP

May 01
17:06 2016

Alex Lessard | Associate Sports Editor

@alexjlessard

The Mean Green softball team just can’t find a way to win.

North Texas (20-31, 3-18) lost 6-3 in the final matchup of a three-game series with the University of Texas at El Paso (22-28, 13-8), allowing the Miners to clinch a Conference USA tournament appearance.

Head coach Tracey Kee’s squad is now sitting on a 12-game losing streak and is just two losses away from tying the longest losing streak in school history.

“It’s a big learning experience for the 11 newbies on our team who’ve never experienced such a thing,” Kee said. “They understand I think now how important it is, and hopefully going into next year they’ll remember it.”

Each team managed to put a run on the board in the first inning. After a one-out single and subsequent steal from freshman infielder Mackenzi Dawson, fellow freshman Rhylie Makawe drove her in with a double, giving the Mean Green an early lead. In the bottom of the frame, starting pitcher Stacey Underwood snuck out of a bases-loaded jam only allowing one run.

The offensive attack for the Miners remained steady, putting up another run in the second to end Underwood’s day early. The junior went 1.2 innings, allowing two runs on four hits.

Freshman Lauren Craine and junior Jessica Elder finished out the game, as North Texas used its entire pitching staff to close out the series. The strategy kept UTEP in check, but the Miners still scored in all but one inning.

“The fact we used all three pitchers to keep them on their toes was a really good strategy for us,” Underwood said. “We didn’t come out on top, but we were in the game.”

The Mean Green fought back from one run behind in the top of the third with three hits, fueling a rally that scored two runs with the help of an error by UTEP to take the lead back. However, the Miners plated another run in their half of the third to tie things at 4-4.

North Texas failed to score again for the remainder of the game, but still was able to have balance throughout its lineup. Freshman utility player Casady Webb went 2-for-2 with an RBI and said focusing on the simple things helped the bats get going.

“Nobody’s disappointed in how we played today, and I think that’s a big positive,” Webb said. “We’re doing the little things right, win or lose.”

Craine was the Mean Green’s workhorse for a big chunk of the game but did not find the success she was looking for, giving up three runs on six hits in 3.0 innings. Elder went on to get the final four outs, allowing only one run.

The pitching staff as a whole has allowed over six runs a game over the course of the team’s losing streak, and Underwood said fatigue has played a minor role.

“I think everyone is [worn out] a little bit,” Underwood said. “It’s just frustrating when you go on a losing streak like this. We’re all still working hard, we come out every day. I think we’re fine.”

Only four games remain on the schedule for North Texas – a road matchup versus the University of Texas and a weekend series at home to close out conference play. With the team focused on finding any way it can to get a win, Webb said there’s one factor that will motivate her and her teammates the most.

“We talked yesterday, and everyone’s playing for the seniors. We hope to just go out with a bang this last weekend for them.”

The Mean Green’s next chance to snap the streak will come against the Longhorns at 5 p.m. on Wednesday. And although its efforts have not led to success in the win column, Kee said she’s confident her team still has a positive mindset.

“Usually for a team that’s on this type of skid, things begin to get very touchy and edgy,” Kee said. “This group has done a really good job of sticking together.”

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