North Texas Takes On Texas In Nationally Televised Matchup
Game To Be Broadcast On Longhorn Network At 5 P.M.
DENTON -- The North Texas softball team begins the last week of the 2016 season with its final nonconference game, a midweek road contest at Texas on Wednesday night. The third of three televised games this season, the Mean Green will face the Longhorns on the Longhorn Network with a first pitch set for 5 p.m.
North Texas (20-31) enters the week on a 12-game losing streak, dating back to a 10-2 run-rule win over Georgia Tech in five innings on April 10 at the Kansas Round Robin. The Mean Green are coming off a series sweep loss at UTEP this past weekend, its fifth series sweep loss in seven Conference USA series this season.
North Texas hitting .281 as a team, which would be the best mark in school history, and has already set the single-season record with 77 stolen bases this season.
Individually, junior shortstop Kelli Schkade leads Conference USA in home runs (13) and slugging percentage (.736) and also ranks third in batting average (.393) and on-base percentage (.474). She has also set the single-season school record with 50 runs scored, while freshman outfielder Makenzi Dawson has tied the school record with 17 stolen bases this season.
"We're trying to put together a complete game, and we have been trying to do that since the beginning of the season," head coach Tracey Kee said. "We have had our challenges. When our offense has been there, our pitching tends to struggle, and vice-versa. We also had a spurt where we weren't very good defensively, which was quite uncharacteristic for us. We don't talk about the losing streak. We try to keep the focus on ourselves and how to get better."
North Texas is 17-13 in nonconference games this season, including a 2-6 record against Big 12 Conference teams, highlighted by a pair of wins over nationally-ranked Baylor earlier in the season. The Mean Green are 1-12 all-time against Texas, last defeating the Longhorns, then ranked No. 15 in the nation, during the 2010 season. It was one of 11 wins over a nationally-ranked team in school history.
Texas (33-14) has won six of its last seven games, including a series sweeps of Oklahoma State and a series win over Kansas in Big 12 play. The Longhorns also boast impressive marks of 23-5 in home games and 26-7 in nonconference games this season and have lost just three nonconference home games all season.
Texas is hitting .292 as a team, led by senior Lindsey Stephens (.385) and junior Celina Felix (.356), who both rank in the top 10 in the Big 12. Stephens also leads the team with 18 doubles, eight home runs and a slugging percentage of .720. In the circle, the Longhorns lead the league with an earned run average of 2.26, and junior left-hander Tiarra Davis ranks second in the league with an earned run average of 1.81.
"Our kids like to play the big games and the big-time schools," Kee said. "As a coaching staff, we look at it as quite the challenge. When you look at where we're located and being able to play these teams, it's something that's hard to turn down. We want to get our kids ready to go to Texas and play relaxed but focused and try not to press too much."