North Texas Splits Friday's Games
Pitching, Fielding Showed Improvements
ELON, N.C. - The North Texas softball team split their games on the opening day of the Elon Softball Classic on Friday at Hunt Softball Park. Freshman pitcher Hope Trautwein continued to shine, striking out 11 batters in 8.1 total innings between the contests.
"I worked ahead and came out strong, and that was a big thing I wanted to do," Trautwein said.
In the first extra-inning game of the season, North Texas fell to Bowling Green, 3-2, in nine innings. The Mean Green were forced to claw back from a one-run deficit in each of the final three innings but didn't have an answer for the Falcons in the bottom of the ninth.
"You never want to play from behind," North Texas head coach Tracey Kee said. "I was pleased with how our kids fought because offensively, we were pretty stagnant. The pressure is something they're going to have to learn how to handle."
The Mean Green (1-3), who entered the game averaging just over eight hits per game, were held to just one hit through six innings. North Texas emerged with four hits in the final three frames. Conference USA Player of the Week Lacy Gregory went 0-for-3 and reached base once on a walk.
"The thing we struggled with most was getting our leadoff runners on," Kee said. "If we can get them on, we can manufacture a run."
Meredith Miller (4-0) earned the win with six strikeouts in 8.1 innings of work, allowing both runs on five hits. Maria Priest (0-3) suffered the loss, giving up the Falcons' (6-0) final two runs in her 3.2-inning relief outing. Brooke Parker (1) picked up the save after recording the final two outs of the game to seal the win.
Trautwein got off to hot start, striking out the first four batters of the game and retiring the first six Falcons in order. In both the third and fourth innings, she rebounded from a leadoff hit in each frame by retiring the following three batters. Trautwein finished with career-highs in strikeouts (7) and innings pitched (5.1).
"Ironically, my goal was to not allow the leadoff batters to get on so when it happened, I got even more determined to get the next three," Trautwein said.
In the top of the third, Trautwein allowed a leadoff single to Sarah Gonzalez, who advanced to third on a pair of groundouts. Shortstop Miranda Holguin, making her first collegiate start, recorded her second putout of the inning to strand the runner at third and keep the game scoreless.
In her first appearance since committing two errors at the end of the Central Arkansas game, Holguin finished the game with five assists and two putouts, committing the team's lone error in the game.
"Shortstop is an incredible difficult position," Kee said. "For her, as a freshman, I thought she made some very good plays. We were a little more patient today in regards to playing our speed."
After Bowling Green put runners on first and second with one out in the sixth, Kali Holcomb doubled to the left field corner to drive in the first run of the game. Maria Priest took over for Trautwein on the mound and retired all five batters she faced to keep the deficit at just one.
The schools went back-and-forth in the seventh and eighth innings, but a Kaylee Parker RBI single put the Falcons ahead for good.
The Mean Green held off a late rally in a 7-5 victory over Rhode Island. Trautwein struck out Caileigh Holland with the bases loaded after the Rams had already scored once in the inning to cut the lead to two.
"I was so excited to get the out, but I needed to slow things down to for myself and just trust my mechanics," Trautwein said.
Trautwein (2-0) was the game's winning pitcher with four strikeouts in three innings of relief. URI starter Sarah Gunderson (0-1) suffered the loss after giving up five runs on five hits in 4.1 innings.
North Texas (2-3) starter Maria Priest fell into a bases-loaded jam with one out in the second inning and allowed the next two batters to reach on a walk and a single to give the Rams (0-1) a 2-0 lead. She retired the next two batters to get out of the jam and limit the damage to two runs.
"They're getting experience that a lot of young pitchers don't get," Kee said. "I'm hoping the tough situations they're getting put in early on will help them down the stretch. I saw a change today in their confidence. It's going to be a process and we're learning as we go."
The Gregory twins played a vital role in tying the game in the ensuing half inning as Lindsey reached on an error to load the bases. Lacy stepped up to the plate and roped a two-run single up the middle, making her 7-for-8 with runners in scoring position on the year.
Nicole Ochotnicki gave the Mean Green their first lead of the day with a leadoff home run in the top of the fourth inning. The Mean Green extended their lead to three in the top of the fifth on a two-run shot off the bat of Sally Gastelo, her first in a Mean Green uniform.
"It's important for us to hit one-through-nine," Kee said. "This offense has some sticks in it. It won't be run by one person and it was nice to see other people step up and deliver."
After loading the bases with no outs on a pair of walks and a hit-by-pitch, Kee called on Trautwein in favor of Ally Lindsey, who was responsible for two runs in her one-inning collegiate debut. Erika Yeager took Trautwein's second pitch to the gap in right-center, knocking in two runs and making it a one-run game. Trautwein recorded three straight outs to maintain the lead.
In the top of the sixth, Katie Clark advanced runners to second and third on a sac bunt, setting up Lindsay Gregory for a sac fly to center. Hannah Gerecke also scored on the play after a throwing error sent the ball into the Rhode Island dugout.
North Texas will continue Elon Softball Classic play against Mount St. Mary's at 9 a.m. CT Saturday.
• Rhylie Makawe made her 100th start in a Mean Green uniform against Bowling Green.
• The first game marked the first extra-inning contest of the year for North Texas.
• Katie Clark made her North Texas debut as a pinch-hitter against Bowling Green and her first start in left field against Rhode Island.
• Holguin, who entered Saturday with a .333 fielding percentage, had just one error in eight chances to raise that number to .727.