Softball earns first day sweep at North Texas Invitational
Clay Massey | Staff Writer
North Texas got to come home to Lovelace Stadium for the first time this season with games against Sam Houston State University and Creighton University on day one of the North Texas Invitational.
The Mean Green (8-4) swept, taking down both Sam Houston State (2-8) and Creighton (5-7).
North Texas 5, Sam Houston State 2
Junior transfer Jessica Elder got the nod in the Mean Green’s home opener, going 6.1 innings, only allowing one run on five hits with four strikeouts.
North Texas first struck in a defensive error-filled third inning by the Bearkats. After freshman outfielder Bailey Thompson turned on the jets to beat a grounder to begin the inning, junior short-stop Kelli Schkade came up with a frozen rope stand-up triple to the right-center field gap to make the score 1-0. Schkade now has a hit in every game this season after leading off with a hit in game two.
“This young group rides that,” Kee said. “I know that puts a lot of pressure on Kelli, but she’s such a solid student athlete. She’s embraced that role. She wants to help her team get moving.”
Thompson also had a nice day at the plate, going 2-for-3 against the Bearkat and 4-for-5 for the day.
The Mean Green struck for two more runs in the third, both off of Sam Houston errors. Freshman infielder Makenzi Dawson reached first on an error, scoring Schkade. Senior catcher Bryana Wade reached on another Bearkat error scoring another North Texas run making the score 3-0 at the end of three.
North Texas continues to make the most of opponents mistakes, as it improved to 5-1 when its opponents have two or more errors.
Elder’s only blemish on her solid pitching effort against the Bearkats came when she left a fastball high and inside, resulting in a towering solo home run to left field.
North Texas added two more in the fifth when freshman utility player Kay Kay Hayter got her first RBI of the season on a base-hit to right. Then, after Hayter stole second, the Mean Green scored a runner from third after a throw from the opposing catcher.
“We’re not going to stand in there and swing for the fences,” Kee said. “We were able to get aggressive on the bases today. It caught me a couple of times where I had runners moving and go doubled off, but on the flip side, we were more successful.”
With the tying run at the plate in the game’s final inning, freshman Lauren Craine got the next two outs to finish the game, only allowing one run on one hit to prevent the Sam Houston State rally.
North Texas 11, Creighton 1 (5)
Schkade started the game with a line-drive home run to left field, and North Texas never looked back. Runs came in bulk, as North Texas struck for five in the first, four in the third and one in both the fourth and fifth innings.
Three different Mean Green players homered in the run-rule win: Schkade, Wade and in freshman utility player baseman Harley Perella, whose 3-run homer to right made the score 5-0 in the first.
“I wanted to get us on the board,” Perella said. “I wanted to jump on them. I just took a good pitch to hit.”
Perella also flashed the leather in the bottom half of the third when she grabbed a hard line drive at third base and made the throw across the diamond to first to catch a Creighton runner sleeping and turn a double play.
Schkade jumped on a fastball for a two-run home run in the top of the third, and Makawe added two more with a single to make the score 9-0, finishing the day 4-for-5 at the plate. The following inning, a Wade home run gave the Mean Green a double-digit lead.
Junior pitcher Stacey Underwood shined in her sixth start of the season going 4.0 scoreless, one hit innings with seven strikeouts and said she was pleased with her performance after some lackluster ones in previous games.
“It feels so good,” Underwood said. “It gets my confidence up. It’s just like everything I’ve worked for is finally coming in.”
Kee went to Craine one final time to finish the day out. Craine again gave up a run but finished the final inning strong.
“Lauren is one of those pitchers that has ice water in her veins,” Kee said. “I know I can put her in the toughest situations and she’ll respond. I know she’s a little disappointed in her performance today. We’ll come back again tomorrow.”
North Texas is back in action tomorrow at Lovelace at 11 a.m. and 1 p.m. against Creighton and Sam Houston State.
Featured Image: The Mean green softball team breaks their huddle on the third base side after a half inning against Sam Houston State in the Mean Green Invitational. Dylan Nadwodny | Staff Photographer
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