New faces, new leadership: Softball graduate transfers look to lead in 2021

Article Originally Published by Preston Rios on North Texas Daily

All of North Texas softball’s eight seniors departed following the 2020 season where the team had its best 24-game start in program history with a 19-5 record. To fill in the gaps for the upcoming season of departed seniors, head coach Rodney DeLong brought in graduate transfers in former Texas outfielder Tuesday DerMargosian and former Texas Tech pitcher Gigi Wall.

“These two are very methodical in their preparation, work ethic and how they see the game,” DeLong said. “They both draw a lot of experience at a high level, the younger players get to see from them how to handle success and failure. They’re both successful players throughout their careers who come from successful programs and these two bring the expectation of winning every day which helps us out.”

Outfielder – Tuesday DerMargosian, Texas

Coming from a Texas program who made a Super Regionals appearance in 2019, DerMargosian brings four years of Power 5 softball experience where she played against top-ranked opponents during non-conference play and in the Big 12. Offensively, she held a career .262 average (49 hits in 187 at-bats), 56 runs and 15 stolen bases with the Longhorns.

Of the 24 home runs North Texas hit in 2020, 14 came from senior outfielders who departed. Since arriving at North Texas, DerMargosian says the coaching staff helped her improve in different areas of her swing including developing more power.

“I’ve grown a lot these past few months with my swing and learned a lot in terms of building more power just by working with the coaches and my teammates,” DerMargosian said. “One thing that helps was [DeLong] saying striking out is okay because he’d rather us swing hard instead of hitting something weak and having an unproductive at-bat.”

During the 2019 and 2020 seasons, DerMargosian was coached at Texas by former Oregon head coach Mike Brown who appeared in five College World Series appearances in nine seasons with the Ducks. The Longhorns finished 46-17 in 2019, the most wins the Longhorns had since 2013. Texas in 2020 started 24-3 in their first 27 games before the season was postponed.

DerMargosian entered the transfer portal with one year of eligibility left to play after retaining it due to NCAA ruling on spring student-athletes’ shortened season. She is close friends, and was a high school teammate, of outfielder Tarah Hilton. Hilton reached out to DeLong about DerMargosian’s eligibility and immediately signed her.

“I knew [DerMargosian] was a pretty solid player who’d be a good fit for us,” DeLong said. “As soon as she got on the portal, we got a hold of her and the process moved fast for us.”

Pitcher – Gigi Wall, Texas Tech

Before coming to North Texas, Wall’s Marlow High School (Marlow, Oklahoma) team played against Cache High  School (Cache, Oklahoma) where DeLong was the head coach. The two knew of each other over the years and Wall reached out to DeLong following the 2020 shortened season when she was at Texas Tech.

Wall comes to North Texas after a three-year stint with Oklahoma City where she was a three-time NAIA All-American, Sooner Conference Pitcher of the Year and two-time NAIA World Series champion along with two-time MVPs in both championships.

For her career with the Stars, Wall compiled a 79-5 record, 0.77 ERA, 481 strikeouts and 33 shutouts in 545 innings pitched.

After medically redshirting the 2019 season at Oklahoma City, she transferred to Texas Tech. She appeared in 13 games with a 2-2 record, 35 strikeouts, 2.02 ERA in 41.2 innings pitched in the 2020 season.

Wall said the experience she had at the NAIA level and at Texas Tech help her as a leader for the young North Texas team.

“Starting out at an NAIA school was good for me because it taught me so many little things about the game and life in general,” Wall said. “When I transferred to a Power 5 school in Texas Tech, the competition got tougher but the standards I held myself to didn’t change. The standard I hope to set is one where younger players feel comfortable in their own shoes and that I can trust their abilities. I’d like to set that type of standard where they believe in themselves and never give up no matter what is being thrown at them.”

Wall is an addition to the trio of North Texas pitching staff in Hope Trautwein, Bailey Tindell and Ariel Thompson who combined for a 19-5 record, 2.28 ERA, 191 strikeouts in 162.2 innings pitched in 2020.

She said the pitching staff works well among each other and plans to continue an aggressive approach on the circle in her final season.

“I think all five of us have our own strengths we bring to the circle,” Wall said. “I’m excited about the diversity in our staff and what we bring to the table. It’s very important to be a leader on the mound because your team feeds off your energy. If you’re confident on the circle, chances are the defense will play aggressively behind you.”

For the 2020 season, North Texas was 2-2 against top 10-ranked teams and lost 3-2 to No. 4 Texas. As a team with 10 freshmen and time to develop during the offseason, DeLong says bringing in DerMargosian and Wall will help the program continue its winning culture and compete against the Power 5 competition in non-conference play.

“Right now we have a lot of young players on the team, so it’s important to bring in two mature players,” DeLong said. “Getting these two [to] come to North Texas shows it’s a good place for players from Power 5 schools to transfer from. Those kinds of players can come here because we plan to beat those Power 5 schools, play at a high level and develop the players as good as any of the teams.”

Courtesy North Texas Athletic Department

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Source: North Texas Daily