Jan. 24, 2014
In just two weeks, the North Texas softball team will open its 2014 season in Athens, Ga., at the Red and Black Showcase. Under first-year head coach Tracey Kee, the Mean Green will be tested early with games against No. 23 Georgia, James Madison and Winthrop in its season-opening tournament.
North Texas will play James Madison and Georgia on Friday, Feb. 7. Both teams were 40-game winners and NCAA Tournament participants a year ago. The Bulldogs enter the season ranked No. 23 in the USA Today/NFCA Division I Preseason Top 25 Poll.
Through the fall season and since coming back from winter break, Kee and her coaching staff have been working on getting the team comfortable with all situations, defensively and offensively.
“When you are comfortable as an athlete, you tend to perform better,” said Kee. “We are doing a lot of teaching and a lot of reps. We are still just grinding it out every day.”
North Texas is led by six seniors, including two pitchers in Ashley Kirk and Lauren Poole. Brooke Foster, an all-conference honoree last year, and Jordan Terry return for the final season in the infield. Kee moved numerous players around during the fall season at different positions, and still sees an evolving lineup.
“Ideally, I would like to know going into that very first game what my lineup is four days out. This is going to be an ever-changing lineup. I think with the talent that we have, the commitment kids are putting in, and the competition we are doing daily, that nobody has anything locked so they know they have to bring it every day in practice.”
Kirk headlines a four-pitcher squad. The senior received all-conference recognition last year after leading the team in wins and strikeouts last year. Poole was second on the team with three saves. Madison Thompson
enters her third year with the Mean Green, and Kenzie Grimes
will make her first appearance in a North Texas uniform.
“I think the pitchers have made huge progress,” said Kee. “I have four pitchers, and I feel comfortable with all four. I think they each bring something very different to the table in regards to their own skill set. Credit to them, everyone has improved from day one.”