Late Rally Falls Short For North Texas in 4-2 Loss
Mean Green Finish Season 25-31
HATTIESBURG, Mississippi - The North Texas softball team rallied late, but came up short against the Charlotte 49ers on Wednesday, dropping a 4-2 contest in the opening round of the Conference USA tournament at the Southern Miss Softball Complex.
"I thought Charlotte did a nice job of coming out and putting us on our heels early," head coach Tracey Kee said. "I just thought they swung the bats better than we did today."
North Texas (25-31) was out-hit 9-4 and left six runners on base, four of which were in scoring position.
Charlotte's (30-22) Haley Wiseman secured the victory, tossing a complete game while limiting the Mean Green to two runs on four hits with four strikeouts opposed to two walks. North Texas senior Jessica Elder (8-11) suffered the loss, going 2.1 innings, giving up two runs on five hits with one walk.
"We went with Jess because she has been throwing the ball well," Kee added. "We felt that when we played them earlier in the year she had good success against them. All the pitchers knew it was all hands on deck because it's a single-elimination tournament and that how we prepared them coming in."
Senior Stacey Underwood finished in the circle, throwing the final 3.2 innings, allowing two runs on four hits with four strikeouts and one walk.
After North Texas left a runner in scoring in the top of the first, Charlotte took a 1-0 lead after Spenser Gray singled, stole second and scored on Haley Pace's single in the bottom of the stanza.
In the top of the third, sophomore Rhylie Makawe reached via an error and senior Kelli Schkade singled to center, but Wiseman was able to retire the Gregory twins to get out of the jam and keep Charlotte ahead.
Charlotte tacked onto its lead in the bottom of the third as Grace Beatty plated Pace on a double to right center, pushing its lead to 2-0. Beatty added to Charlotte's lead in the fifth inning with a two-run home run to straightaway center, pushing the 49ers in front 4-0.
That home run proved to be the difference in the game, as North Texas got to Wiseman in the sixth inning, cutting it two a 4-2 game on freshman Hanna Rebar's two-out double.
After freshman Lacy Gregory walked and was relieved for junior Grace Blagg, freshman Nicole Ochotnicki hit into a fielder's choice, but Blagg was safe at second as Charlotte's second baseman dropped the throw. Rebar capitalized on the error, driving a 3-2 pitch into the gap in left center, plating Blagg and Ochotnicki.
In the seventh, the Mean Green put a runner on base, but a double play and a fly out ended the game 4-2 in favor of the 49ers.
"We did a lot of good things this year despite the fact that we finished six games under .500," Kee said. "Our non-conference strength of schedule was top-10 in the nation and we didn't shy away from tough competition. It was a great learning experience for this young team and it's something to build upon moving forward."
- This is the third Conference USA tournament North Texas has made under head coach Tracey Kee.
- Senior Kelli Schkade went 2-for-4 in the final game of her career, marking her 22nd multi-hit game of the season and 51st multi-hit game of her career. The 22 in a season are the third-most all-time for a North Texas player.
- Freshman Hanna Rebar went 1-for-2 with two RBI off the bench for North Texas.
- The game marked the final time seniors Schkade, Stacey Underwood, Danielle Gregory and Jessica Elder would suit-up for the Mean Green.
- North Texas falls to 8-3 at neutral sites.
- The loss marked the ninth time the Mean Green has lost a conference foe by two runs or less.
- North Texas fell to 0-4 on the season against Charlotte.