2011 Season In Review
The 2011 softball season was a roller-coaster ride for the Mean Green, full of ups and #$%^downs and twists and turns. A senior-heavy team was full of experience and the early part #$%^of the season showcased that potential. A tournament title and bi
The 2011 softball season was a roller-coaster ride for the Mean Green, full of ups and downs and twists and turns. A senior-heavy team was full of experience and the early part of the season showcased that potential. A tournament title and big home wins propelled the Mean Green up, but tough losses on the road and shaky play against conference opponents brought the season to an early halt.
North Texas started the season by traveling to Arizona to play in the prestigious Kajikawa Tournament. The Mean Green picked up two wins and experience of playing against quality Pac-10 opponents, including No. 18 Stanford, No. 14 Oregon and Northwestern.
The Mean Green returned home to host two tournaments and came away with a tournament title and a second-place finish. First up was the Sleep Inn Classic featuring Big 10 opponent Nebraska. North Texas went 3-1 with the only loss coming at the hands at tournament winner Nebraska.
Behind a 5-0 record and two shutouts, North Texas captured the Courtyard Classic. Redshirt freshman Ashley Kirk won tournament MVP honors after going 3-0 with a 0.00 ERA. She struck out 22 batters in 16 innings of work. In the 9-0 win against Wichita State, she set a single-game school record with 14 strikeouts.
North Texas picked up wins against UTEP, Louisiana Tech and Ole Miss in the tournament. Mallory Cantler, Mariza Martinez and Monica Hirsch were all named to the all-tournament team. Those three seniors plus Courtney Bradshaw, Renae Bromley, Anna Barren and Hayley Siebman made up one of the Mean Green's most talented senior classes in school history.
Cantler and Martinez went on to leave North Texas as two of the most decorated North Texas softball players in school history. Cantler became the first softball player at North Texas to earn all-Sun Belt honors four consecutive years. She earned first-team honors her first three years and capped her senior season with second-team accolades.
Cantler set the career doubles record in 2011 and came up two hits shy of tying the career hit record at North Texas. She finished second in career hits and RBI and left North Texas holding five career batting records and four season batting records. The senior led the Mean Green in 2011 with a .319 batting average, 51 hits, 32 RBI and nine home runs.
Martinez set the career runs record in 2011 against South Alabama. She also holds the career stolen base record and is second in career home runs with 36. She finished second on the team in 2011 with eight. She left North Texas with her name in the top 3 of 14 career school records.
The freshmen class also proved that it could contribute. Along with her early season success, Kirk went on to set the single-season strikeout record and move into the top five for career strikeouts after just one season. She also picked up a Sun Belt Player of the Week honor.
Brooke Foster came in and secured the third-base starting position as a freshman. She hit over .300 for most of the season and finished fifth with a .276 average. She led the Mean Green with three triples and 10 stolen bases. She hit .322 during Sun Belt play and went on to earn second-team all-conference honors. She became only the third North Texas softball player to earn all-conference honors as a freshman.
The Mean Green finished its 18-game home stand with an 11-7 record. Five of its seven losses came at the hands of nationally-ranked opponents. Two of the losses were to Missouri State, which surprised the Mean Green with a doubleheader sweep. Missouri State went on to play in the post-season, earning a NCAA Tournament bid. The Bears were one of 11 teams that the Mean Green played in 2011 that went on to see post-season play.
North Texas opened Sun Belt play at home against nationally-ranked Louisiana-Lafayette. For the first time in school history, the Mean Green defeated ULL during the regular season. North Texas went 1-2 against the Ragin' Cajuns, including an opening extra-inning loss.
North Texas followed that up with a split against No. 18 Baylor at home. Courtney Bradshaw recorded the dramatic game-winning hit for the Mean Green in the 9-8 victory. The Mean Green has now won three of the last four games against the Bears.
The Mean Green's troubles began that following weekend against Middle Tennessee. On the road, North Texas was swept in conference play by the Blue Raiders. Outside of ULL, the Mean Green had not gone 0-3 against a Sun Belt opponent since falling to Troy in 2008.
Following a road loss to No. 18 Oklahoma State, North Texas returned home to face a good rival in FIU. NT was only able to come away with one win. The Panthers relied on a strong offense, including a grand slam, to overpower the Mean Green.
The Mean Green's success against nationally-ranked teams continued with a split at home against No. 11 Missouri. North Texas found its offense and used four home runs to hand Missouri its fourth loss of the season. Brooke Foster sealed the win with her first career home run, a three-run shot in the sixth inning.
Woes on the road continued for the Mean Green as WKU took two out of three in Bowling Green, Ky. The losses to MT and WKU proved to be costly as those two teams finished No. 7 and No. 8 in the conference standings at the end of the year, pushing the Mean Green out of the conference tournament.
FAU became the second conference opponent in 2011 to sweep the Mean Green. The Owls went on to finish second in the Sun Belt regular season standings and fell to ULL in the conference championship game. North Texas continued to struggle on the road and finished the season with only three road wins and two victories at a neutral site.
The Mean Green won its first series when ULM came to town. Behind a strong offensive performance from Mariza Martinez, North Texas won two out of three games. Head coach T.J. Hubbard also won his 100 and 101 career game at North Texas. He is the all-time winningest coach in school history.
The Mean Green continued to set team and individual records under head coach T.J. Hubbard. North Texas set two single-game individual records and tied six, and recorded five single-game team records. Seven career records were set in 2011. Mallory Cantler set the career doubles record and multiple-hit records in 2011. She left North Texas holding five career batting records and four batting season records. Mallory Cantler is listed in the top 3 of 11 career records.Mariza Martinez set the career runs record in 2011. She left North Texas holding two career batting records. Martinez is listed in the top 3 of 14 career records.With the conference season winding down, North Texas needed to come up with some big Sun Belt wins. Unfortunately, North Texas was only able to get one win against South Alabama and split with Troy, 1-1. The third game was rained out.
Kirk and Lauren Poole combined to no-hit Troy in NT's 9-1 fifth-inning run-rule victory. Kirk also set the single-season strikeout record in the win.
North Texas capped the home schedule with a 3-2 win against UTA. The Mean Green went 2-0 in the season series with UTA and set a school record with 17 home wins. NT honored its seniors before the UTA game and also helped raise money for a local cause.
The North Texas and UTA softball teams joined to raise money for TWU softball player Abby Burns who was diagnosed with Acute Myeloid Leukemia in January. The two teams played two charity games during their seasons to raise money for Abby's medical expenses. North Texas held its own charity game,"Rally For Abby," in Abby's honor on May 4 when the Mean Green faced UTA for a second time. Admission was free in lieu of a cash donation. North Texas also held an on-line auction on meangreensports.com to raise additional funds. More than $1700 was raised from the combined two charity games.
The Mean Green designated three games during the 2011 season as charity games and raised more than $4,700 through t-shirt sales and donations at the gate. Over the last four years, the North Texas softball team has raised $4,000 for the DFW's Leukemia & Lymphoma Society and $6,000 for the American Cancer Society through the Play for Kay and Strikeout Cancer Games.
For its first Wounded Warrior Project charity game, North Texas raised $2,700 in 2011 for the charity whose mission is to honor and empower wounded warriors.
With seven conference wins, North Texas was left waiting to find out its future for the conference tournament. Needing help from Middle Tennessee and WKU, North Texas ended up on the outside looking in. The Mean Green ended its season with a 22-30 overall record and 7-16 conference mark.