North Texas Daily

Softball splits doubleheader, avoids longest losing streak in school history

Softball splits doubleheader, avoids longest losing streak in school history

May 07
22:17 2016

Alex Lessard | Associate Sports Editor

@alexjlessard

With a 13-game losing streak weighing on its shoulders, the Mean Green softball team headed into its Saturday doubleheader with the University of Alabama at Birmingham looking to avoid a not-so great milestone.

North Texas (21-33, 4-19) couldn’t break out of its slump in game one, but avoided what would have been the longest losing streak in school history with a victory over the Blazers (25-29, 14-9) in game two.

“Credit to our kids,” head coach Tracey Kee said. “That could have gone either way. They could have rolled over. This group’s been gritty and fighting all season.”

UAB 9, North Texas 1

Junior southpaw Jessica Elder got off to a good start in her first inning of work, but was the culprit of a lengthy two-out rally. After getting two groundouts right back to her for easy outs, Elder allowed three walks and four singles, giving UAB a 4-0 lead before the Mean Green came up to bat.

Elder settled down to post four consecutive scoreless innings, but the offense simply couldn’t get things going. A walk and a double in the bottom of the first put two runners on base, but freshman Harley Perella struck out to end the threat. North Texas didn’t put multiple runners on base in an inning again until the sixth.

The Blazers caught fire again in the sixth, pounding Elder for two runs on three hits. The inning could have been extended further, but a wild sequence with two runners stuck between bases gave the Mean Green the third out it needed to prevent any further damage. At that point, all of UAB’s runs had come with two outs.

Kee elected to let Elder finish the game, but the runs weren’t done flowing in for the opposition. A three-run home run gave the Blazers a 9-0 lead, marking the sixth time North Texas has given up at least nine runs in a game this season.

“For us, [Elder] knew unless our offense was going to put some runs on the board, she was going to have to eat those seven innings to save our pitching,” Kee said.

The Mean Green headed into the seventh looking to avoid a one-hit shutout and delivered thanks to one of its bench contributors. In her first at-bat of the game, sophomore Lauren Miller ripped a solo home run over the left field wall to put her team on the board. However, that would be the only run for North Texas, marking the ninth time the team has scored one or fewer over the course of the losing streak.

“We just talked about playing for pride,” Kee said. “If you’re going to put that uniform on, you’re expected to bring it.”

UAB 0, North Texas 5

Nearly everything that went wrong in game one went right in game two, as the bats and pitching both turned things around.

After a Perella homer put the first run on the board in the second inning, the Mean Green erupted for a three-run inning, ignited by a successful double-steal to go up 2-0. From there, freshman Rhylie Makawe was hit by a pitch to load the bases and North Texas took advantage, getting an RBI walk and scoring again on an infield single due to an error from the UAB shortstop.

“We were struggling to hit with runners in scoring position, so I think those couple runs on that walk and double steal kind of got us going,” senior Karly Williams said.

Meanwhile, junior righty Stacey Underwood was dominant on the hill. The HIco native went the full 7.0 innings, only allowing two hits and two walks on the way to her first shutout of the season and second of her career.

“I knew UAB was a good hitting team, so I knew I was going to have to come out and pitch good anyways,” Underwood said. “Once our offense started kicking in, I felt a lot less pressure to put up zeros every time.”

An RBI single off the bat of junior Kelli Schkade gave Underwood a five-run cushion headed into the seventh and final inning. At that point, Kee said the team remained calm and refused to panic.

Yet, the excitement showed once the game’s final batter popped up to Schkade at shortstop. Underwood took a few hops towards the dugout and threw her arms into the air out of pure excitement when the ball hit her glove, finally earning the win she said her team desperately needed.

“It’s hard to come back every single day after such a long losing streak and long season,” Underwood said. “I think it shows a lot of grit and who we are as people as players.”

Seniors Bryana Wade and Williams will play their last games in North Texas uniforms to close out the season on Sunday. First pitch is at 1 p.m.

 

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