In their third matchup in the past calendar year, the Mean Green softball team fell to the Oklahoma State Cowgirls 4-1 Saturday afternoon. The Cowgirls have won each of the three meetings, dating back to another fall preseason game on Oct. 17, 2018.
Oklahoma State recorded eight hits, doubling the four that North Texas put into play. Both teams drew a walk three times and all came before the ninth inning began.
The Mean Green jumped out to an early 1-0 lead in the first inning off a senior outfielder Hanna Rebar hit, driving in fellow senior outfielder Kenzie Young. Junior pitcher Hope Trautwein was able to hold the Cowgirls scoreless until the fourth inning when she gave up the tying run to senior infielder Alysen Febrey on a solo home run.
“They are a talented lineup,” Trautwein said. “Moving the ball and keeping them on their toes was my approach for today’s game. They are extremely talented so keeping the ball away from the bat was a challenge.”
Sophomore Bailey Tindell took over for Trautwein at the top of the fifth inning and blanked the Cowgirls. Trautwein finished the afternoon with four innings pitched, two hits, one earned run, one walk and two strikeouts.
Oklahoma State put up three runs off four hits against Tindell in the sixth inning, taking the lead 4-1. Tindell managed to keep the Cowgirls off the scoreboard for the next two innings before being replaced in the ninth inning by freshman Ariel Thompson. Tindell’s final stat line included four innings pitched, five hits, three earned runs, two walks and three strikeouts.
Thompson retired the first four batters she faced with strikeouts in the ninth and tenth innings, surpassing both Trautwein and Tindell in half the innings. The freshman gave up one hit on the afternoon and gave the Mean Green a final chance in the 10th inning to regain the lead. Thompson attributes her performance to the defense behind her.
“I’m glad that I have teammates behind my back,” Thompson said. “I’m confident in the work that we put in practice. [My] mental game is my weakness right now and I’m working on [that] the most.”
Ultimately, the Mean Green fell 4-1 without recording a run after the first inning. Head coach Rodney DeLong attributes the team’s stalling to the stout Cowgirls defense and pitching.
“It’s a College World Series-type program and they’ve got elite pitching, and we haven’t seen that type of pitching this fall,” DeLong said. “This early in the year, it’s good for us to play teams like that. We didn’t adjust real well, but [you’ve] got to tip your cap to them.”
Moving forward, North Texas will travel to their sole away game of the fall preseason to take on the No. 2 Oklahoma Sooners in Norman, Oklahoma. That game will take place on Oct. 16 at 6 p.m. Similarly to Oklahoma State, this will be the third matchup in 366 days between the Mean Green and Sooners. Last fall, Oklahoma came out on top 9-3 at Lovelace Stadium on Oct. 11 and defeated North Texas 8-0 on March 20.
DeLong is excited about the opportunity to play a nationally acclaimed program again.
“[It’s] another great challenge, just like today,” DeLong said. “We got to go in there, knowing that we can compete and hang in and we got to play a clean game. If we don’t play clean, we won’t hang around, so hopefully, we go in there and battle them and play hard.”
Featured Image: Junior Hope Trautwein pitches the ball during the Mean Green’s game against the Oklahoma State Cowgirls on Oct. 12, 2019. Image by Ryan Cantrell