Mean Green Softball 2010 In Review

All the pieces began to fall in place for the 2010 North Texas softball team. The hitting, pitching, defense and bits of luck all came together for the Mean Green as the squad recorded the best season in school history. The only thing that did not go the Mean Green's way was the weather.

North Texas recorded many firsts in 2010: its first winning season, the most wins in school history, posting a school-record 52 home runs. The Mean Green also picked up big wins against nationally-ranked opponents: No. 15 Texas and No. 24 Baylor. North Texas went 3-3 against Big XII opponents in 2010.

In conference play, North Texas posted a record 12 wins and finished the regular season in third place, its highest finish. The Mean Green went 2-2 in the conference tournament to secure third place. Another first for the Mean Green.

Individually, North Texas placed a record three players to the All-Sun Belt Team. Mallory Cantler became the first Mean Green softball student-athlete to be named to the first team three straight years. Mariza Martinez was named to the second team for the second straight year, and Ashley Lail became the first North Texas pitcher to receive All-Sun Belt recognition. She was named to the second team after holding one of the lowest earned run averages in the conference.

Fellow senior pitcher Kayla Lawson was named to the Sun Belt Conference All-Tournament Team after picking up the win against Florida Atlantic in the tournament. Lawson had her best year, posting a 2.21 ERA and an 8-4 record.

Lawson picked up the Mean Green's first win of the season against SFA on February 17. The start of the 2010 season was delayed a week for North Texas due to bad weather.

Instead of flying down to Mississippi for their season opener at Mississippi Valley State and then continuing on to the MSU Tournament, the North Texas was snowed in at home. NT had to cancel its first five games of the season because they could not get out Denton due to poor weather. North Texas ended up losing six more games later in the season because of either rain or snow, including three key conference games.

Momentum proved key for the Mean Green. North Texas started to pick up the pace with a 1-0 home win against No. 15 Texas on March 16, its first-ever victory against the Longhorns. A conference series win on the road against FIU in April started a month where North Texas would go 13-3. Included in that run were six doubleheader sweeps, two wins against Baylor, four conference series victories and a three-game sweep against WKU.

North Texas hit roadblocks in its final series against Louisiana-Lafayette. The Ragin' Cajuns continued to hold all the cards against the Mean Green, winning all three games. The Mean Green needed extra innings to defeat UTA in its second to last game of the regular season and then came up short against No. 10 Oklahoma.

A No. 3 seed in the tournament, North Texas was feeling good entering the conference tournament, until it faced Ashlyn Williams and Troy in the opening game. Williams threw a no-hitter to send the Mean Green into an elimination game. North Texas came back with wins against No. 2 FIU and No. 4 FAU but came up short once again against Williams and Troy.

The Mean Green came up just short in its goal of reaching the conference championship game but has a strong foundation to build on. One of the Mean Green's strongest classes made up of Mariza Martinez, Mallory Cantler, Courtney Bradshaw and Renae Bromley, will be seniors in 2011.

The sophomore class showed a huge jump from its first season. Lisa Johnson led the team in home runs, slugging percentage and walks. She set the school record for walks in a season and hit 11 home runs, tying for the third-most long balls hit in a single-season. Johnson was ranked nationally as one of the toughest players to strikeout. Megan Rupp started all but one game in left field and batted at almost every spot in the lineup.

The freshmen showed the future of North Texas softball. Lesley Hirsh grew at shortstop, starting the last 41 games at the middle infield position. Brittany Simmons posted a 2.28 ERA in her first season. Next season, she will be joined by Ashley Kirk who sat out her freshman year because of an injury. The two young pitchers will need to fill the void left by senior pitchers Ashley Lail and Kayla Lawson.

The pitching squad posted a school-record ERA of 2.35. Lail led the way with a 2.06 earned run average, setting an individual school record. She recorded a personal-best 13 wins in 2010. The pitchers held their opponents to a .238 batting average, another school record.

Third base is another hole the Mean Green will have to fill. Rebecca Waters ended her career in 2010 in fine fashion, hitting a huge home run against FIU that tied the game. The Mean Green went on to win and stayed alive in the tournament. Waters hit two grand slams in 2010, becoming the first Mean Green softball player to accomplish that feat. The graduation of Rebecca Waters ends a seven-year era of a Waters playing on the North Texas softball team. Susan Waters played on the first Mean Green team in 2004 and went on to letter all four years. Her younger sister, Rebecca, joined Susan in 2007 and went on to have a successful career as well with the Mean Green.

Head coach TJ Hubbard picked up his 60th career win in 2010, becoming the winningest softball coach at North Texas. He finished the season with a win-loss record of 82-81 after three years as head coach. In each of his three years at the helm, Hubbard has led the Mean Green to greater success and 2010 was an example of that.



North Texas Mean Green