North Texas Resumes Conference Play At UTEP
Mean Green Have Won Seven Of Last 10 Road Games
DENTON – For the fourth straight weekend, the North Texas softball team is on the road as the Mean Green prepare for a three-game series at UTEP, beginning with a double-header at 3 and 5 p.m. CT Saturday. The Mean Green are 7-2 over their last three weekend series on the road.
“We have to keep our energy up,” sophomore outfielder Hanna Rebar said. “We’re a team that feeds off how much energy we bring. We have to come out firing.”
The series has a lot at stake in the conference standings as UNT looks to improve on its 8-4 start to league play, its best start since 2014 when the team won a program-record 31 games. The Miners look to climb out of last place in C-USA at 4-11.
“This series is super important if we want to clinch the top seed,” freshman pitcher Hope Trautwein said. “We’re all feeling competitive and playing our best games right now.”
The Mean Green are 11-4 all-time against UTEP and 9-3 under coach Tracey Kee. North Texas swept the Miners in Denton last season, but UNT dropped all three contests in the last series in El Paso. Winning at the Helen of Troy Softball Complex isn’t easy, as UTEP boasts an 8-4 record at home.
The X-factor will be the jet stream out to center field created by high winds and thin mountain air, which make home runs relatively easy to hit. North Texas enters as the C-USA leader in home runs (46) and UTEP ranks third with 28. The Miners are averaging 0.83 home runs at home and 0.64 on the road.
“We play here in Denton, where the wind is uncontrollable,” Trautwein said. “It can take easy outs out of the park. We have to start off with good pitches and throw each pitch with a purpose.”
UNT enters with a four-game win streak after sweeping Mississippi Valley State on the road last weekend and defeating Houston Baptist 9-5 on Wednesday evening in Denton. A win would match the Mean Green’s longest winning streak of the season at five games.
North Texas’ offense is surging during the win streak, hitting .393, slugging .689 and reaching base at a .440 clip. The Mean Green have averaged 12 hits, five extra-base hits and five steals per game. Rebar has led the way, batting 5 for 7 with four runs, four RBI and three extra-base hits.
“We prepare for teams really well throughout the week, which lets us settle in in the box since we have a good idea of what’s coming,” Rebar said.
After losing 16 of 18 games from March 1-27, the Miners rebounded with a 3-3 stretch across two C-USA series and took two out of three from in-state foe UT San Antonio. In addition to home runs, UTEP ranks third in the conference in slugging percentage (.424).
In her last 29 innings pitched, Trautwein has surrendered just one extra-base hit, a double to Preseason C-USA Player of the Year Emily Lochten of Florida Atlantic. In that span, Trautwein hasn’t allowed an earned run and is 5-0 with a save and 42 strikeouts.
“I’ve just been trying to keep runners out of scoring position by containing hitters to no extra-base hits,” Trautwein said. “I’ve also tried to limit walks and trust my defense behind me to make the easy outs.”