Mean Green Take First Two At Home
Rebar Combines For Two Home Runs, Five RBI
DENTON – For the second time in three seasons, the North Texas softball team started 2-0 at home with a pair of wins over Prairie View A&M and Grambling on Saturday night. Pitching carried the Mean Green as freshman pitchers Maria Priest and Hope Trautwein combined for 19 strikeouts and just one earned run in 14 innings pitched.
“These two like to be challenged,” North Texas head coach Tracey Kee said. “Before they even toed the rubber, it was, ‘hey, I need seven.’ They knew their role and neither of them were going to relinquish the ball tonight.”
In its first game of the Schutt Classic, North Texas (4-4) defeated PVAMU (1-8), 7-0, behind a high-powered Mean Green offense that tied a season-high with three home runs in the contest.
Priest (2-3) tossed her first complete-game shutout and struck out a career-high six batters to earn the win. Crystal Castillo (0-2) suffered the loss, allowing five runs on four hits in just 2/3 of an inning.
“I just had the same game plan, which was to get through seven and throw up the zeros,” Priest said. “My offense did a really good job of getting on the board early for me, allowing me to settle in and make the pitches I needed to make to get out of it.”
North Texas struck early and often with five runs in the first inning on a pair of home runs. After Sally Gastelo doubled in Lacy Gregory to push the lead to 2-0, Hanna Rebar sent a ball over the left-field wall to double the lead. Two batters later, freshman Kourtney Williams launched her first career home run over the wall in left.
“We came out with a mission to put runs up early,” Kee said. “I never want to rely on the long ball, but it’s nice to see when it works.”
The ball continued to fly in the second inning as Nicole Ochotnicki hit her second of the season with a runner aboard to extend the Mean Green lead to seven.
Following a leadoff single in the top of the fifth inning, Priest retired the final nine batters of the game, including her career-high sixth strikeout to close out the game.
“I just focused on making my pitches and letting my defense work behind me,” Priest said.
North Texas (5-4) capped the day with a 3-1 victory over Grambling (1-8), led by Trautwein’s 13 strikeouts which rank third-most for a single game in school history.
“She had great command,” Kee said. “Calling pitches can be hard sometimes, but it felt incredibly easy today. We were on the same page, and she understood our game plan. She really worked hard in practice this week and started to dial in on her motion and her mindset.”
Trautwein (3-1) struck out at least two batters in six of her seven innings, fanning the side in the opening frame on her way to the win. Caitlin McDowell (1-3) took the loss after giving up all three runs on five hits in her six innings of work.
“I felt really strong coming out,” Trautwein said, “and knowing I had run support behind me made me even more confident to get those strikeouts.”
Rebar broke up the scoreless affair with an RBI single up the middle that drove in pinch runner Hannah Gerecke and followed it up with a two-run shot to left to extend the lead to 3-0.
“I was seeing the ball well tonight and my teammates did a good job of getting in scoring position,” Rebar said. “There’s always a little pressure when the people ahead of you are getting on and getting over.”
North Texas will take on Grambling and Prairie View at 1 and 3 p.m., respectively, on Sunday.
• The Mean Green improve to 4-0 all-time against Prairie View A&M.
• Priest has thrown back-to-back complete games, allowing just two earned runs in that span (1.00 ERA) and racking up nine strikeouts.
• North Texas has eight different players with at least one home run this season.