North Texas Daily

Softball searches for consistency with conference season underway

Softball searches for consistency with conference season underway

March 21
18:27 2018

For the North Texas softball team (12-15, 3-3), finding the consistent ability to perform well in hitting, pitching and defense has been an issue. Through 27 games, the Mean Green have only once scored five or more runs in back-to-back games.

Head coach Tracey Kee has changed her lineup both offensively and defensively every game throughout the season thus far. It can be difficult for a coach to find the balance that is needed to win games, especially with the talent she has on her roster, but she explains it is common in this sport.

“I think that’s natural for a lot of softball teams to try and be able to fire off of all cylinders,” Kee said.

Much of this may be caused by the little experience much of her players have. With three freshman on the mound and a handful of sophomores spread out around the field, Kee has had to depend on the youth of her roster to lead the team. However, as the season progresses, Kee hopes the group is learning from the changes.

“I would like to say that this group is maturing,” Kee said. “You’re seeing them work through things and understand the concept of a long season.”

Sophomore outfielder Hanna Rebar, who has started all 27 games this year, agrees the team has improved since the opening games.

“I thought it was a problem earlier in the season, but I think we’ve done a much better job of putting it together these last couple games,” Rebar said.

Along with Rebar, the class of 2020 has undoubtedly been the fuel of the offense. Rebar, outfielder Katie Clark, catcher Nicole Ochotnicki, outfielder Camille Grahmann and infielders Lacy Gregory and Lindsey Gregory combine for a .300 batting average, 19 home runs and 71 RBI’s.

“It’s tough at the beginning, especially when you’re so young,” Rebar said. “But I don’t think that plays a factor now. Our pitchers have really settled in, and I think we’re all starting to find it and getting better each game.”

Perhaps another one of the biggest standouts among the group of fresh faces has been freshman pitcher Hope Trautwein. Trautwein currently leads the team in earned run average (3.01), complete games (6) and strikeouts (77).

“In regard to our pitching, they are really starting to show how they’re maturing,” Kee said. “You can see through Hope when you compare where she is now versus where she was a month and a half ago.”

Defensively, the Mean Green average more errors than last season with 1.26 per game. Despite the team struggling at times behind her, Trautwein’s confidence in her defense has never been doubted.

“I will always completely trust my defense,” Trautwein said. “I just try to do my best to get them playable balls and easy outs.”

The Mean Green have had a number of performances where one thing outshines the other. For example, going from being shutout and held to two hits one night in a series, but then coming back the next day and putting up 13 hits and 10 runs on the exact same team they faced the night before. This is where Kee uses her philosophy of rearranging the lineup to her advantage.

“A lot goes into just making a lineup,” Kee said. “It’s not just throwing the best nine batting averages out there, but to strategically putting together the best lineup to beat that particular team.”

With many games left in the 2018 season, the main focus for the Mean Green is continuing to link hitting, pitching and defense to win games, especially in close games. Nine of North Texas’ 15 losses have been within three runs or less.

“We just need to play more consistently throughout the entire game,” Rebar said. “Sometimes we do really great the beginning or really great at the end. I think if we just start strong, play hard through the middle and finish strong, that could be the big key for us winning games.”

Featured image: North Texas sophomore Nicole Ochotnicki slides into third base. Saturday, March, 3, 2018, Lovelace Park in Denton, Texas. Jake King/DRC

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Luis Diosdado

Luis Diosdado

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