Softball Splits Double-Header, Locks Up Conference Tournament Berth
Trautwein, Rebar Shine In Circle
DENTON - The North Texas softball team split its double-header with UAB on Saturday afternoon and secured a spot in the 2018 Conference USA Tournament next week.
"As a coach, you want to punch your own ticket and not rely on other people," Mean Green head coach Tracey Kee said.
North Texas set a program record with their eighth shutout of the season, defeating the Blazers 2-0 in the series opener.
Hope Trautwein (15-10) tossed her second-straight complete-game shutout, striking out three over seven innings with only one hit and no walks. With 15 wins, she set the program-record for wins by a freshman.
"It's cool," Trautwein said. "It's an honor to do this for the school and put my name out there. That's what I've always dreamed of."
After giving up a single in the first inning, Hope Trautwein retired 17 straight against a UAB (22-30-1, 13-8-1 C-USA) lineup that entered Saturday as the C-USA leader in doubles (69) and ranked second in the conference in hits (381) and triples (11).
"Coming down the home stretch, she's got great command and a great mindset," Kee said. "That's mostly what pitching is. With her having those two things, she's very dangerous at this point in the season."
For the 24th time of the season, North Texas (25-24, 11-10 C-USA) scored first after Katie Clark reached second on an error by the left-fielder and scored on a Nicole Ochotnicki single up the middle that snapped an 0 for 12 slump over her last four games.
"I was just trying to be aggressive in the box and not worry so much," Ochotnicki said. "I tried not to think too much and just get a good swing on it."
The Mean Green extended their lead in the third inning on a two-out solo home run off the bat of Lacy Gregory, her 15th two-out RBI of the year. Gregory becomes the third UNT slugger to reach double-digit home runs.
"The amount of power hitters on this team has carried us all season," Gregory said. "It's special to be a part of. We're one of the smallest teams out there, so it's really impressive and shows the amount of work we've put in.
North Texas (25-25, 11-11 C-USA) dropped the second game of the day 2-1, despite an impressive outing from starting pitcher Hanna Rebar, who allowed just two runs with two strikeouts and no walks over five innings in her first career start.
"We decided as a staff that Rebar was going to give us the most competitive energy in that circle," Kee said. "We felt it was something that could show a different look. I thought she did a great job."
"It was nerve-wracking, but I was confident," Rebar said. "Usually holding a team to two runs is good for us.
Rebar kept UAB (23-30-1, 14-8-1) relatively quiet until a pair of RBI singles in the fourth and fifth innings put the Blazers ahead by two. She redeemed herself with an RBI single of her own in the home-half of the fifth to cut the deficit in half.
"We were in a tough situation that late in the game without a run yet," Rebar said.
Trautwein took over for Rebar to begin the sixth and, after hitting her first batter, retired five straight batters and kept UAB off the board in the final two innings.
"I know my team is confidence in me and that's all I needed," Trautwein said.
North Texas and UAB square off in the rubber match at noon Sunday.
Lacy Gregory's third-inning home run was her 100th hit in a Mean Green uniform.
Rebar had pitched just two-thirds of an inning before her start Saturday.
In game two, Katie Clark failed to reach base for the first time in 21 games.