North Texas Caps Season With Walk-Off Win Over UAB
Gregory Delivers Game-Winning RBI Single In The Bottom Of The Seventh
DENTON -- The North Texas softball team sent its seniors out in style, rallying for three late runs, capped by a game-winning RBI single by junior outfielder Danielle Gregory in the bottom of the seventh for the dramatic 3-2 win in the 2016 regular-season finale against UAB on Sunday.
Junior shortstop Kelli Schkade tied a career high for hits, going 4-for-4 with a double and three runs scored, including the game-winning run in the bottom of the seventh. Senior Karly Williams also tallied a multi-hit game, going 2-for-3 with an RBI, while fellow senior Bryana Wade tied the game at 2-2 with a solo home run in the bottom of the sixth.
"It was important for us to put together some quality games together this weekend and send our seniors out on a positive note," head coach Tracey Kee said. "How can you write the script any better? You win with a walk-off and you win a series against the number one team in the West. That show the talent on this roster and future of this program. I was happy for Bry and I was happy for Karly. They played great today, and as a coach, you love to see that happen in their last games."
North Texas loaded the bases with nobody out in the first, but the Mean Green were unable to push a run across in the inning. After trading zeroes through two innings, UAB grabbed a 2-0 lead with a pair of two-out base knocks in the top of the third.
In the bottom of the fifth, Schkade laced a single to right, her third hit of the game, stole second and then came around to score on an RBI single by Williams. And then in the next inning, Wade crushed a solo shot to dead center to tie the game at 2-2.
Junior Jessica Elder came on in relief in the top of the seventh, inheriting runners at first and second with nobody out, and retired the next three UAB batters in order, to send the game to the bottom of the seventh still tied at 2-2.
Schkade led off the inning with a single to center, her fourth hit of the game. Williams then reached on a fielder's choice, as Schkade beat the throw at second base. After a sacrifice bunt by freshman Rhylie Makawe and an intentional walk to freshman third baseman Harley Perella, Gregory stepped to the plate with the bases loaded and one out in the inning.
On the first pitch, Gregory lifted one over the head of the UAB left fielder, and Schkade scored easily from third, for the dramatic, come-from-behind, walk-off 3-2 win.
"It's overwhelming and it's exciting to see me and Karl come up with two of the three runs scored in the game and go out a great note like that," Wade said. "For all that we have been through, this is probably the best feeling we have had all year."
The trio of freshman Lauren Craine, junior Stacey Underwood and Elder worked a combined 7.0 innings and allowed just runs, scattering seven hits with a walk and two strikeouts. Underwood allowed just two hits in 3.0 scoreless innings, while Elder (14-12) worked a perfect seventh and earned the win in relief.
The Mean Green (22-33, 5-19 C-USA) finish the season on a two-game winning streak and a series win over UAB (25-30, 14-10 C-USA), which shared the Conference USA Western Division crown and will be the No. 2 seed in next week's Conference USA Tournament.
"It's very encouraging going into next year," Kee said. "We have never tried to use our youth as an excuse, but our kids now have a solid season under their belt. They understand the mental focus and physical endurance that they're going to need. This season was a life lesson. Their learning curve was sharp and quick, and I have no doubt that they will respond well next season."
- North Texas won in walk-off fashion for the fifth time this season, and Danielle Gregory had her hand in three of them
- North Texas played in 15 one-run games this season, finishing with an 8-7 record in such games
- North Texas collected its second Conference USA series win of the season and its first series win all-time against UAB, improving 2-6 all-time against the Blazers
- Kelli Schkade tied a career high for hits and tallied her team-leading 19th multi-hit game of the season, which includes three three-hit games and two four-hit games
- Karly Williams tallied her 13th multi-hit game, tied for the third-most on the team, and her seventh such games in Conference USA play, the most on the team
- Kelli Schkade finishes the season with a .393 batting average and .471 on-base percentage, both second-best in school history, and .713 slugging percentage, third-best in school history
- Kelli Schkade tied the single-season school record with her 16th double of the season
- Jessica Elder finishes 14-12 on the season, giving her the fifth-most wins in a single season in school history
- As a team, North Texas finishes the season with a .278 batting average and .363 on-base percentage, both second-best in school history, and a .973 fielding percentage, also second-best in school history