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Softball splits second straight day at Hillenbrand Invitational

Softball splits second straight day at Hillenbrand Invitational

Senior utility player Karly Williams fields the ball near home plate during practice. Dylan Nadwodny | Staff Photographer

Softball splits second straight day at Hillenbrand Invitational
February 13
19:03 2016

Clay Massey | Staff Writer

@Clay_FC

Mean Green softball almost mirrored its results from day one of the Hillenbrand Invitational, as North Texas (2-2) split another double-header, dropping game one and winning game two. The opponents on day two were University of California – Santa Barbara and the University of Southern Utah.

University of California – Santa Barbara 6, North Texas 3

North Texas could not quite get the offense popping, despite numerous opportunities. North Texas loaded the bases three times, but only scored three runs. The Mean Green stranded ten runners in the contest.

“I was incredibly frustrated,” head coach Tracey Kee said. “And I let them know. You can’t leave 10 people on base. We had the ability to blow that game wide open, and we didn’t. Those are some things to learn from.”

Despite a strong start for junior Stacey Underwood on the mound, she would only last 4.0 innings, giving up eight hits and five runs before junior Jessica Elder was called upon in relief. Underwood struck out six before she gave up an RBI double in the fifth and a two-RBI double an inning later.

That nullified a sac-fly in the first by freshman utility player Casady Webb and a later bases-loaded walk that scored a run in the third. UCSB (1-2) added a run in the sixth, and North Texas answered with just one run in the bottom half of the inning to make the UCSB lead 6-3.

Both teams went quiet in the final inning, as North Texas failed to make a late comeback. Elder held UCSB to just three hits in her 3.0 innings of relief, but her day would not be over yet as she soon found out.

“It was about being aggressive and throwing pitches I know how to pitch,” Elder said. “I let the defense behind me take care of all the ground balls and fly balls that were routine.”

North Texas 6, University of Southern Utah 5 

A ferocious one-out North Texas comeback in the bottom of the seventh came to a head when freshman utility player Rhylie Makawe knocked home junior outfielder Danielle Gregory with a single, giving the Mean Green a walk-off victory.

Entering the inning, North Texas trailed 5-1, but loaded the bases in the bottom half of the seventh. Junior infielder Kelli Schkade continued her hot hitting with a two-run double, followed by another two-run double by Gregory, setting up Makawe for the game-winner.

“I was just like ‘I can’t believe we did it,’” Makawe said. “It was such a great accomplishment, but it wouldn’t have been able to be executed if [Thompson] hadn’t led off with a great hit and then followed with the rest of the hits. It was definitely a team effort at the end.”

North Texas got in the hole that it eventually dug out of after freshman pitcher Lauren Craine got chased from her first start. Craine allowed a leadoff home run, and then loaded the bases on a walk and two hits before being taken out of the game after getting just one batter out.

Elder was called upon again to shut down Southern Utah (0-5), and she did her job. Elder got out of the bases-loaded jam, and finished out the remaining 6.2 innings, only allowing two runs on seven hits. Elder dealt 131 pitches between the two games.

“[Elder] is a competitor,” Kee said. “She’s got ice water in her veins. She’s one of those kids and she’s just working pitch-to-pitch. That was a gritty performance today.”

The Mean Green’s only other run came in the bottom of the fourth on a Makawe sac-fly that scored Schkade. Despite the late rally, Kee is taking the win with a grain of salt with her young squad.

“We were seriously outplayed by Southern Utah six out of seven innings,” Kee said. “I talked to them about, yes I like to comeback, I like the fight and the grit, but a lot of times you’re going to fall on the losing side of that.”

North Texas will finish out play in the Hillenbrand Invitational on Sunday with the finale against Purdue University. First pitch will be at 10 a.m.

Featured Image: Freshman utility player Harley Perella cocks her arm back to throw a ball to first base during practice. Dylan Nadwodny | Staff Photographer

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