North Texas Daily

Softball takes pivotal conference series behind Ochotnicki’s late heroics

Softball takes pivotal conference series behind Ochotnicki’s late heroics

March 31
16:15 2018

The Conference USA pre-season polls had the North Texas softball team projected to finish eighth this year. With a new pitching rotation and a few unproven players in the lineup, there was reason for skepticism.

However, after a taking the weekend series against Florida Atlantic (20-18, 8-4) with a 2-1 victory on Saturday morning, the Mean Green (18-16, 8-4) are now tied for first place in C-USA with the Owls.

“This team has really come into their zone,” head coach Tracey Kee said. “We hit conference and really started playing better. They’re just riding the confidence and playing consistent and that’s all I can ask for.”

It was practically deja vu for Kee and her squad, as they found themselves in yet another pitching battle between freshman pitcher Hope Trautwein and FAU’s Mia Olsen and Kelsey Morrison. Trautwein threw her eighth career complete game while allowing just one unearned run on four hits and striking out seven.

“I wasn’t sure if she could throw as good as the game she threw yesterday, but she actually surpassed that,” Kee said. “Anytime your opponents know your pitches from the day before, but yet you’re still able to go out there and dial up a gem like she did, that’s just a credit to her determination and confidence level.”

With her performance, Trautwein has now thrown 19 straight innings without allowing a run.

“Our goal was to attack the spots we needed to and find what they struggled in to use to our advantage,” sophomore catcher Nicole Ochotnicki said. “Hope did a really good job pounding the strike zone and keeping the hitters off balanced. She just pitched a really good game against some really good players.”

The Owls took the lead early in the game using a couple of bunts, followed by an error to grab the early momentum and score their only run of the game.

Both teams were then held scoreless until the top of the fifth inning. That is when Ochotnicki continued to show why she has been a vital part to the Mean Green’s success this season.

With two outs and sophomore infielder Lindsay Gregory standing on second, Ochotnicki drove an outside pitch over the right-center field wall to put North Texas out in front and, eventually, give them the win.

“It had been a little bit of a rough weekend trying to get on base in general,” Ochotnicki said. “I just wanted to make hard contact and it ended up going over.”

Also performing well at the plate were sophomore outfielders Camille Grahmann and Hanna Rebar, who were the only two players  for the Mean Green to record multiple hits in the series finale.

“I knew they were going to be aggressive and I think as a team, we just knew we needed to look early,” Grahmann said. “We had watched film the night before so we focused on making our minor adjustments and figuring out what we did wrong in our at bats yesterday.”

Now with back-to-back series wins on the road against C-USA opponents, the Mean Green ooze confidence with only four more of those series left to be played before the conference tournament.

“We need to continue to play our game with high energy, high enthusiasm and consistency,” Kee said. “This team is just competing right now. If we can continue to do that down the stretch, we’ll be fine.”

Up next: North Texas will head back home to host Sam Houston State in a non-conference matchup at 6 p.m. on Wednesday.

Featured image: North Texas sophomore Camille Grahmann hits the ball in a game against the University of Texas at Arlington on March 4 at Lovelace Stadium. Sara Carpenter

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Luis Diosdado

Luis Diosdado

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