Clay Massey | Staff Writer
North Texas picked up two more wins Saturday, improving to 11-6 on the season after defeating Nicholls State University and the University of Tennessee at Martin in close wins on day two of the Mean Green Spring Fling.
Junior short-stop Kelli Schkade recorded hits in both games, extending her school-record hitting streak to 17 games. Head coach Tracey Kee challenged her squad to be better after a rough day two of last weekend’s home tournament.
“We knew last weekend we kind of bottomed out in the last two games,” Kee said. “So we challenged them [that] when they put those uniforms on to come out here with their best shot.”
North Texas 2, Nicholls State 1
It was close, but North Texas was able to just squeeze out a win over Nicholls State (13-8) in game one of North Texas’ double-header.
The Mean Green scored the winning run in the top of the sixth when senior third basemen Karly Williams sent a fastball right back up the middle for an RBI base hit. It was Williams’ ninth RBI of the season, giving the Mean Green a 2-1 lead it would not relinquish.
“That was our first close game that went seven wire-to-wire innings,” Kee said. “I thought Underwood was amazing. I thought defensively we held our own.”
The Mean Green held a one-run lead from the top of the first all the way to the bottom of the fourth. North Texas opened the scoring when freshman second baseman Casady Webb drove in a run with a bases-loaded infield hit in the top of the first to put the Mean green on top 1-0.
Nicholls State answered by slicing double down the right field line from freshman designated player Gretchen Morgan in the bottom of the fourth. It was Morgan’s third RBI of the season.
The pitchers dueled on Saturday afternoon in game one, with both junior righty Stacey Underwood and senior Hannah Haydel going a complete seven innings. Haydel entered with a 1.70 ERA, but Underwood was able to best her. As Haydel’s pitch count rose closer to her 115 pitch total, her control fell, allowing North Texas to strike for their winner.
Underwood only allowed three hits and struck-out three on her way to her fourth win of the season. She threw 77 allowing her to start the next game as well.
“They were so aggressive,” Underwood said. “They were going to hit it. So I just had to let my defense work.”
University of Tennessee at Martin 3, North Texas 5
The bats came to life for North Texas with 11 hits and five runs en route to a win over UT-Martin.
UT-Martin opened the scoring in the top of the first frame with a sacrifice fly, but North Texas was able to answer in the bottom of the second with and RBI-single from freshman first baseman Rhylie Makawe and a two-run single from Schkade.
Makawe finished hitting 4-for-5 on the day after entering Saturday hitting at a .289 clip.
“I just felt like I should come back after struggling last week,” Makawe said. “I needed to focus more and see the ball hit the bat. Just slow it down, instead of trying to think and do too much.”
Leading 3-1, North Texas added another run in the third inning after Willams hit a slow-roller down the first base line, scoring freshman third basemen Harley Perella, who hit a frozen rope double to begin the inning.
The Skyhawks rallied in the fourth with a towering home-run to trim the deficit to 4-3, but North Texas put the game out of reach in the bottom of the inning when Schkade scored from third on a double steal after walking to lead-off the inning.
UT-Martin had a chance to take the lead in the top of the seventh with runners on the corners and the go-ahead run at the plate, but Elder escaped with a nasty breaking ball for a swinging strike-three to end the game.
“I thought our kids played well all day,” Kee said. “Being in two close games, I think that’s something we need as a group. They brought energy, they executed well.”
North Texas returns to action tomorrow at 11 a.m. and 1 p.m. to finish out the Mean Green Spring Fling with games against Nicholls State and Houston Baptist University.
Featured Image: North Texas senior third baseman Karly Williams (11) smiles and is congratulated by associate head coach Natalie Kozlowski after a hit against Nicholls State during the Mean Green Spring Fling Tournament. Dylan Nadwodny | Staff Photographer