North Texas Splits First Conference USA Contests
Trautwein Tosses First Career Shutout
DENTON – The North Texas softball team split their opening games of Conference USA play against Charlotte on Saturday afternoon at Lovelace Stadium.
The Mean Green bested the 49ers in an old-fashioned pitcher’s duel by a score of 1-0 in game one of the doubleheader. Sophomore outfielder Katie Clark drove in the game’s only run on a sixth-inning sac fly.
After Rhylie Makawe reached on a leadoff walk, Miranda Holguin reached on an error that allowed Makawe to advance to third. Pinch-hitter Sally Gastelo grounded out to move Holguin up before Clark stepped up and flied out to left, giving Makawe time to tag up and score the winning run.
“We have to start with getting runners on so our teammates can pick it up and get us over,” Makawe said. “Miranda did a good job getting the bunt down, which was huge.”
Freshman pitcher Hope Trautwein (4-2) tossed her first career shutout, striking out five Charlotte batters. Trautwein pounded the strike zone with 75 strikes out of 115 pitches.
“Hope is a power pitcher,” North Texas head coach Tracey Kee said. “She went out there and attacked from the first pitch to the last. When you have a pitcher putting the gas pedal down and totally competing every pitch, understanding one pitch can cost the game, it’s a lot of pressure for a freshman. I thought she handled it remarkably.”
North Texas had their fair share of opportunities in the first three innings, loading the bases in the first and third but failed to drive any baserunners in. However, the Mean Green did force Charlotte starter Haley Wiseman to reach 100 pitches before the end of the fourth inning.
“The whole object of the game is, when you have runners on, to get them in,” Kee said. “We were facing one of the best pitchers in the conference. The more looks you get on someone and the more pitches they throw makes it difficult. You get to that point where you’ve thrown so many pitches, you don’t know what to throw.”
North Texas fell to Charlotte, 7-4, in game two of the doubleheader. The Mean Green allowed seven unanswered runs over the final six innings of the loss.
“We didn’t pitch well, bottom line,” Kee said. “We didn’t have a balanced plate. We didn’t have the velocity, spots and movement we needed.”
Contrary to the first game, North Texas wasted no time putting runs on the board, plating four on four hits in the first inning. Lacy Gregory and Hanna Rebar drove in runs on back-to-back at-bats and, two batters later, Rhylie Makawe dropped a two-run single into shallow right-field.
“We talked in between games about scoring early and putting runs up,” Makawe said. “It’s a matter of continuing to put the runs up instead of just the four.
Charlotte responded with five unanswered runs over the next four innings, led by home runs for Haley Pace and Jude McGough. After relief pitcher Ally Lindsey walked the bases loaded, Rebar came in from right field to the mound, inducing an inning-ending groundout to keep the score at 5-4.
“That was a point in the game where we could’ve really taken the momentum,” Rebar said. “We stopped them from scoring more than two runs with the bases loaded. That could’ve been a turning point for the offense, but we couldn’t get it going after that.”
In the sixth inning, Charlotte added a pair of insurance runs on one play as Kiersten Berrier scored on a McGough single and Pace came home after Nicole Ochotnicki’s attempt to throw her out at third went into left field.
The Mean Green bats were held silent in the middle innings as the 49ers allowed just two base hits from the second to fifth innings, retiring nine straight at one point. North Texas loaded the bases on back-to-back-to-back base hits with two outs in the sixth, but pinch-hitter Kourtney Williams popped out to the pitcher to end the rally.
“I hate trying to win games in the sixth and seventh, and we should’ve never put ourselves in that position,” Kee said. “We threw up a four-spot in that first inning and our inability to tack on to that lead is what cost us. It’s not about waiting to get the bases loaded and getting that hit. That’s happened a lot, but that’s why we don’t want to depend on that.”
North Texas wraps up the weekend slate against the 49ers at noon Sunday.
• Rebar’s fifth-inning relief appearance was her first career appearance on the mound.
• Saturday marked the first time this season the Mean Green went back-to-back games without a home run.
• Ochotnicki tied a career high with three hits in the first game, her fourth multi-hit game of the year.