North Texas Splits Friday Doubleheader At WKU
Three-Game Series Finale Set For Noon Saturday
Game Two: North Texas 9, Western Kentucky 4
BOWLING GREEN, Ky. --The North Texas softball team began its weekend series against Conference USA defending regular season and tournament champion Western Kentucky with a split of Friday's doubleheader.
After dropping the series opener 6-3 in extra innings, by way of three-run, walk-off home run, the Mean Green (17-12, 2-6 C-USA) bounced back with 15 hits and nine runs in a 9-4 win in the second game of Friday's doubleheader.
"I was highly disappointed in this group in the first game," head coach Tracey Kee said. "For a team that needs to be playing with a sense of urgency, we did not do a good job of it. As a coach, it's black and white, and I told them exactly what I thought and I challenged them to play a harder 21 outs, and I thought they did that."
Junior shortstop Kelli Schkade, after seeing her seven-game hit streak snapped in the first game, led the way in the 9-4 win, setting a career-high for hits and going 4-for-4 with a double, three runs scored and three RBI.
"I was pretty hard on her after the first game, but that was honestly her first bad game of the season," Kee said. "It was nice to see her respond like she did. She leads by example, and she knew she didn't play well, so she quickly turned it around in the second game."
Game One: Western Kentucky 6, North Texas 3 (8)
North Texas battled back to send the game to extra innings, scoring a game-tying run with two outs in the top of the seventh. However, in similar dramatic fashion, WKU claimed the series opener 6-3 in walk-off fashion with a two-out, three-run home run in the bottom of the eighth.
WKU junior Kathryn Downing limited North Texas to just five hits, including 1-for-10 marks with runners in scoring position and with two outs. Freshman Lauren Craine (1-3) took the loss for the Mean Green, as she worked a career-long 5.0 inning of relief and allowed two runs on seven hits with a walk and two strikeouts.
"I thought we came out of the box without a sense of urgency, from the first inning on," Kee said. "Their pitcher did a nice job of keeping us off balance, but I felt like our kids weren't competing like they're capable of."
WKU grabbed an early 2-0 lead, loading the bases with two outs in the second inning, before scoring both runs on illegal pitches. North Texas answered right back in the next half-inning, tying the game with a pair of runs in the top of the third, highlighted by an RBI double by freshman third baseman Harley Perella.
The Lady Toppers regained a 3-2 lead in the bottom of the third, taking advantage of a wild pitch and later scoring on an RBI single to left. The Mean Green put a runner on base in the fourth, two more in the fifth and another in the sixth, but they were unable to advance a runner past second base.
WKU threatened to extend its lead in the bottom of the sixth, but Craine pitched out of a bases-loaded jam with an inning-ending strikeout. North Texas tied the game in the top of the seventh, taking advantage of WKU's fourth fielding error of the game. Junior shortstop Kelli Schkade drew a one-out walk, advanced to second on a groundout and then came around to score on the fielding error with two outs in the inning.
In extra innings, North Texas put two runners on base with two outs in the top of the eighth, but they were unable to push a run across. In the bottom of the inning, after a leadoff double, junior Jessica Elder came on in relief and retired back-to-back hitters on groundouts. And then after a two-out walk, WKU senior infielder Brooke Holloway belted a three-run home run to right-center for the walk-off win.
Game Two: North Texas 9, Western Kentucky 4
All nine starters recorded a hit and North Texas scored in five of the seven innings, totaling 15 hits and scoring runs in a 9-4 win over Western Kentucky to split the Saturday doubleheader and even the weekend series.
Junior shortstop Kelli Schkade led the barrage, going 4-for-4 with a double, three runs scored and three RBI, setting a career high for hits in a game. Senior second baseman Karly Williams, freshman designated player Kay Kay Hayer and freshman outfielder Bailey Thompson also tallied multi-hit games in the win.
"In the second game, our energy was better," Kee said. "We came out of the quickly, which we knew was going to be important after dropping the first game. We strung some hits together and put up some runs early. With a young team, that leads to a lot of confidence."
North Texas struck first, taking a 1-0 lead on an RBI single by freshman first baseman Rhylie Makawe in the top of the first. WKU tied the game on a sacrifice fly in the bottom of the inning, but the Mean Green answered right back with three runs in the top of the second.
Hayter and freshman catcher Casady Webb led off the inning with back-to-back singles and both later scored on an RBI double by Schkade. North Texas added another run in the inning on a two-out, RBI single by junior outfielder Danielle Gregory.
The Lady Toppers made it a 4-3 game with a two-run home run in the bottom of the third, and the Mean Green extended the lead back to 5-3 on an RBI double by Williams. WKU threatened in the bottom of the fifth, loading the bases, all with two outs, but Elder pitched out of the jam with a pop out to pitcher.
North Texas pushed across two more runs in both the fifth and seventh innings, while WKU got a run back in the bottom of the fifth for the final 9-4 score. Junior Jessica Elder (10-4) earned the win in the circle, tossing her seventh complete game of the season. She limited WKU to four runs -- three earned -- on seven hits with a walk and two strikeouts.
- North Texas played its fifth extra-inning game of the season, moving to 2-3 in such games this season
- North Texas lost in walk-off fashion for the second time this season. The Mean Green also have three wins in walk-off fashion this season
- North Texas was limited to five hits, tied for its third-lowest output of the season in the first game
- North Texas was 3-for-19 with runners on base, including 1-for-10 with runners in scoring position, and was 1-for-10 with two outs and left nine runners on base in the first game
- With a 0-for-2 game in the first game, Kelli Schkade saw her seven-game hit streak come to an end
- Lauren Craine worked a season-long 5.0 innings of relief, limiting WKU to one run on six hits with a walk and two strikeouts in the first game
- North Texas tallied 15 hits in the second game, its second-highest output of the season each tallied multi-hit games in game two
- Kay Kay Hayer tallied her second career multi-hit game, in the second game
- Kelli Schkade tallied her first career four-hit game, going 4-for-4 with a double, three runs scored and three RBI, her 13th multi-hit game overall, in the second game
- North Texas was 8-for-17 with runners on base, including 5-for-10 with runners in scoring position, and was 5-for-10 with two outs, scoring three runs with two outs and leaving seven runners on base
North Texas concludes its three-game weekend series at Western Kentucky on Saturday with a first pitch set for noon.