North Texas Daily

The doubleheader problem; Mean Green softball struggling in back-to-back games

The doubleheader problem; Mean Green softball struggling in back-to-back games

March 22
18:39 2017

In a schedule built around double headers and playing up to five games in the span of three days, collegiate softball has one of the most grueling and demanding seasons. The mentality is simple – it’s a marathon, not a sprint.

Playing 56 games in a little over three months comes with a lot of peaks and valleys, and sometimes, those valleys can come in one weekend.

The Mean Green softball team plays at least one double header per weekend, occasionally two if it’s a tournament. Often they’ll get as little as a twenty minute break between games, which can sometimes lead to fatigue and other issues.

“Getting our focus back after the break,” freshman second baseman Lindsay Gregory said. “That’s probably the hardest part.”

The second game of a double header isn’t always played against the same team as the first game. In 10 double headers this year, North Texas has only played the same team in both games of a doubleheader three times. In those games,  the Mean Green is 1-2.

Even though playing the same team multiple times helps with familiarity, it doesn’t always translate to wins.

“You learn their tendencies really fast in game one,” head coach Tracey Kee said. “[But] sometimes it’s nice not knowing your opponent’s abilities and adjusting on the fly.”

Overall, North Texas’ run differential in doubleheaders is minus 23, which has become a cause for concern. This means the Mean Green have managed just 36 runs while opponents have plated 59.

But scoring runs has not been their only problem.

Perhaps even more alarming is North Texas’ records in the second game of doubleheaders. The Mean Green is 3-7 this season in those contests, a stark contrast from their 7-3 mark in game one.

“Sometimes if you win the first game, you tend to lose focus on the second,” Kee said. “Or sometimes if you lose the first, it tends to be a flyer. To take two games is a very difficult task.”

While the batting order generally stays the same during doubleheaders, the starting pitcher is almost always different. With North Texas only carrying three pitchers on its roster, sometimes players will have to enter the circle twice in one day.

In four of the ten doubleheaders this year, a pitcher from the first game has also pitched in the second game. And surprisingly, fatigue has not become an issue.

“Once we go through that first game, I feel like I have more energy going into the second,” senior pitcher Jessica Elder said. “The first game is more of a warm up and you start to get your groove and when you do go into that second game, you have that consistency.”

Of their remaining 28 games, half will be played as double headers. Of those seven double headers, six will be part of their conference play. In the last weekend of the season, the Mean Green may face their toughest double-header yet when they square off with No. 2 Florida University and Florida A&M University.

Florida has won two national titles in the last five years.

But should their trend of struggling in the second game continue, it could spell good things for the Mean Green. Florida is the opening game of the double-header.

“A doubleheader is tough physically,” Gregory said. “But typically I feel like since we already played one game, we’re already in game mode and ready to go for that second game.”

Featured Image: Before the start of the seventh inning in game one versus UTEP on Saturday March 11, 2017, Senior Kelli Schkade practices her throws with other teammates. Schkade spent 3 times at-bat with 1 hit and 1 run during game one. Katie Jenkins

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Morgan Price

Morgan Price

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