Pitchers Hope Trautwein and Bailey Tindell are not only good friends but are also the two arms who carry the North Texas squad defensively by keeping opposing hitters off base and limiting runs scored. Both have approached the 2020 spring season with a new mindset even after winning the Conference USA title last season.
“I feel like I’m in a better place mentally,” Trautwein said. “Before, I used to fangirl over the power-five competition because I watched them on the TV and looked up to them my entire career. Now I have the mindset that I can run with them too.”
The tides turned for North Texas softball in 2019 where the Mean Green broke a school record for wins in a season at 35. The two pitchers as underclassmen were expected to be called upon in the biggest situations, where the two got their first taste of what it took to be the go-to arms for a conference-winning team.
Trautwein finished her sophomore campaign with a 21-7 record, going 204.1 innings with 2.82 earned-run average, 169 strikeouts and a .186 opponents’ batting average to take home First Team All-C-USA as a pitcher.
Tindell in her first collegiate season put up a 6-9 record with a 3.94 earned-run average, with 91.1 innings pitched in 28 appearances and 29 strikeouts with a team-low 14 walks. Against Alabama Birmingham in conference play, Tindell pitched two complete games in two days earning wins in both while allowing one run in each matchup.
“[Trautwein] and I complement each other well because we’re opposites in all the best ways,” Tindell said. “We appreciate each other and working next to someone as good as her is bound to make yourself better.”
North Texas assistant and pitching coach Jamie Allred feels the two pitchers improved over the off-season while in her second year serving under head coach Rodney Delong.
“They both had really good summers and came back in better shape than what they left as,” Allred said. “This enabled us to hit the ground running from day. You can definitely see their hard work during bullpens and in the weight room.”
Through the first 20 games this season, the one-two punch between Trautwein and Tindell have combined for a 14-4 record with a 1.80 ERA, striking out 124 hitters.
Notable performances by the duo this season include when Trautwein broke a school record for strikeouts in a game with 21 against Texas A&M Corpus Christi on Feb. 21. Trautwein went eight innings allowing one hit in a complete-game shutout where the Mean Green pulled away in a 3-0 victory.
Tindell through her first 30.2 innings of work to start the year allowed one run or less in each of her eight appearances. She also pitched five complete shutout innings against Texas Southern on Feb. 21 including five strikeouts.
“[Trautwein] and [Tindell] have come into each game with an ‘attack’ mentality and command attention on the field,” senior catcher Nicole Ochotnicki said. “When your pitchers are confident in their abilities and skills along with trusting teammates it makes your team step up as well.”
Both pitchers learn from each other in bullpen sessions, games and practices to pick each other’s brain on mechanical and mental aspects of the game. Trautwein appreciates the mental approach Tindell takes while she pitches to stay focused and avoid negative
“[Tindell] is level headed,” Trautwein said. “We’re good at different things so we always try to learn from each other. You can look at [Tindell] at any point in the game and she has the same fire under her and nothing gets her rattled. Since she’s my roommate, after practice or a game we always have a little pitcher-talk to bounce ideas and circumstances around.”
Crediting the coaching staff and the catchers is something Trautwein and Tindell have done to attribute their performance early on in the season. The pitchers believe the coaching staff has called the right pitches and kept an effective strategy to limit opposing offenses.
“[Delong] has really been great with pitch calling like it’s a game of chess always thinking about the next move,” Tindell said. “[Ochotnicki] is phenomenal behind the plate keeping us disciplined in the bullpen. She’s a big factor to our success.”
Ochotnicki and Trautwein have known each other since 2017 where they have worked with each other during winter and summer breaks, where the two worked closely in bullpen sessions. They have maintained a friendship over the years where both feel chemistry working in games and practice.
“[Ochotnicki] is my rock and has been since my freshman season,” Trautwein said. “She has caught me since my senior year of high school so she knows my tendencies and my mind. I have 100% confidence in her abilities and I’m thankful she’s on our side so we wouldn’t have to run on her.”
Being the two go-to arms for the Mean Green might involve a friendly rivalry between Tindell and Trautwein with their performances in the 2020 season. The two not only try to better each other through pitching aspects but to improve as teammates.
“That’s what makes it great pitching next to [Trautwein],” Tindell said. “It’s a privilege and makes me a better pitcher along with being a better teammate.”
UP NEXT: North Texas begins C-USA play over the weekend of March 6, where the Mean Green take on Texas-San Antonio (11-8).
Featured Image: Sophomore pitcher Bailey Tindell throws pitch against Abilene Christian University on Feb. 15, 2020. Image by Zachary Thomas