North Texas Daily

Trautwein’s freshman emergence leads softball in rejuvinated season

Trautwein’s freshman emergence leads softball in rejuvinated season

April 04
19:09 2018

There has not been a single North Texas pitcher to maintain an earned run average of under 3.00 throughout a season since Ashley Kirk in 2013. Kirk was also the last one to toss over 100 strikeouts with 214 in 2014.

With a 2.51 ERA and already 103 strikeouts so far this season, freshman pitcher Hope Trautwein is on pace to reach both of those milestones in just her first year in a Mean Green uniform.

And to think, Trautwein almost did not come to North Texas.

It was not until late in her high school career that Trautwein was even noticed by North Texas head coach Tracey Kee and her coaching staff. By that time, she was already committed to play at Tyler Junior College.

“I was kind of shocked,” Kee said. “We happened to stumble upon Hope at a clinic two miles from campus, and there was no doubt in my mind that she was a Division I pitcher. Sometimes it’s just best to get lucky in recruiting.”

After her first visit, Trautwein knew Kee’s program was going to be one she joined.

“I’ve always heard UNT was a really good school, and the girls on the team just seemed like one really big family,” Trautwein said. “I wanted to be a part of that family, so that’s why I chose to come here.”

After spending plenty of time around the team, Trautwein’s decision continues to be proven right as she makes the most out of her time with her teammates.

“We really do enjoy being around each other, both the coaches and the girls,” Trautwein said. “That’s the biggest thing for me. We have chemistry on and off the field.”

Entering a program as a freshman is never easy, but for Trautwein, it is safe to say she has adjusted well.

She currently leads the team in ERA, strikeouts, complete games (8), opponents batting average (.258) and wins (10). Not to mention, her 6-1 record with a 1.58 ERA during conference play. It may have taken her some time to get there, but Trautwein is definitely making her presence known to opposing teams.

Kee sees it as well and noticed her small changes and improvements since the beginning of the season.

“I think for her, it has just been the change of confidence and trusting her stuff,” Kee said. “I’ve always had the most confidence in her. I think with each inning she’s grown in maturity and now with conference play coming around, she’s really begun to hit her stride.”

Sophomore catcher Nicole Ochotnicki has the best view when it comes to pitching and has high praise for the stud freshman.

She has caught every single pitch Trautwein has thrown this season, developing a deep pitcher-catcher relationship, only enhancing their play.

“It’s good to have a great connection with the pitcher just so you know what tendencies they have,” Ochotnicki said. “I think we’ve figured out throughout the season what we need from each other, and what I can do for her.”

Being a former catcher herself, Kee understands how important it is do have this kind of trust between the pitcher and catcher.

“Ocho has that calming effect and is brilliant in regards to understanding the pitchers,” Kee said. “It’s a confidence thing. I think all the pitchers trust her and you need within your battery that whole trust of, ‘No matter where I throw it, she’s going to frame it.'”

This season, Kee has had an influx of young pitchers who have their moments in the circle, but Trautwein has emerged as the default number one choice, especially after her recent outings at Florida Atlantic University.

Ochotnicki has taken notice of the subtle details that makes Trautwein so effective.

“Everything that comes out of her hand looks exactly the same, no matter what it is,” Ochotnicki said. “She’s extremely accurate, and she works hard everyday.”

One of Trautwein’s biggest specialties has been her ability to work herself out of tough situations. Many of her wins have been within margins of one or two runs, much like both of her key wins against FAU, showcasing the maturity she has gained.

“I see it in her body language,” Kee said. “When she doesn’t get a call or there’s an error behind her, she doesn’t get rattled.”

Now as the Mean Green continue having one of their more successful seasons in recent years, Trautwein hopes to blossom as an even more prominent part of this program in the coming seasons.

“I just want to make a statement,” Trautwein said. “I want someone to come to UNT and be like, ‘Oh, I remember when that pitcher Hope Trautwein was here’ and put my name on the map.”

Featured image: North Texas freshman pitcher Hope Trautwein (7) pitches the ball March 3, 2018 at Lovelace Park in Denton. Jake King

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Luis Diosdado

Luis Diosdado

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