March 18, 2018
SAN ANTONIO - For the first time in nearly two years, the North Texas softball team won a Conference USA series on the road with a 2-1 victory over UT San Antonio on Sunday afternoon at Roadrunner Field.
"This is a huge boost for this group," Mean Green head coach Tracey Kee said. "We just really tried to learn from what happened against Charlotte at home last weekend. This team hung in there all the way until the last out, and you couldn't ask for a better pitching performance from Hope."
For the third time in her last four starts, Hope Trautwein (6-5) went the distance, holding the Roadrunners to just one run on three hits and striking out five. She finished the weekend 2-0 with 14 innings pitched, four earned runs and ten strikeouts.
"I wanted to do this for everyone," Trautwein said. "After my performance yesterday, I just really wanted to win this for them. That drove me all the way through the seventh inning."
UTSA struck first with a Rylee Rodriguez RBI single in the first inning, but Sam Rea tied the game with one swing of the bat, hitting her sixth home run of the season to dead center. Rea, who had just one home run to her name a week ago, now has six on the season.
"I was just looking for strikes," Rea said. "She was throwing me a lot in the dirt and I thought they were going to give me some changeups today. I was looking for one speed and one pitch in my zone. Hitting is contagious. Once you get one, your confidence goes up.
After Trautwein tossed 51 pitches through the first two frames, she needed just 63 to get through the next four innings, including a nine-pitch third and 13 pitches in the fourth.
"It was just a matter of her trusting her stuff," Kee said. "She did a great job of balancing the plate and mixing her speeds.
North Texas took the lead in the fifth inning as Briana Valdez reached on a one-out base-hit, advanced to second on a fielder's choice and scored on a Katie Clark single to right-center, barely beating a high throw to the plate.
"I just knew I had to score after making a first-inning error," Valdez said. "I had to do it for my team, because we're all in this together. Hope had our back on the mound, so I had to have her back on offense."
"There were two outs, so Bri was moving on contact and did a good job of getting a really good jump from second base," Kee said. "When I cranked her, I thought in my head, 'it's going to be close.', but I saw the throw tail. The best thing she did was go right into the plate. She didn't try to slide by. She went in hard. When you're a visiting team, those are the chances you have to take."
The Roadrunners threatened in the bottom of the seventh after Trautwein walked the leadoff hitter with the top of the order due up. The Mean Green retired the next two hitters on a sac bunt and an infield pop-up. The team made the decision to walk the conference's home run leader, Bailee Baldwin, despite being hitless in three at-bats, but Trautwein got Rodriguez to fly out to right to end the game.
"When we took that last huddle with the winning run on first, I asked Hope, 'what feels good?'," Kee said. "She said, 'everything.'"
"Everything was looking really good pitching wise, so I just had to move it around and let them make mistakes," Trautwein said.
North Texas will play their 11th game in as many days against No. 11 Baylor at 6 p.m. Tuesday in Waco.
• Sunday's victory marks the first road C-USA series win since March 25-26, 2016, when the Mean Green took two out of three from Western Kentucky.
• With 33 home runs on the year, North Texas topped their season total from 2017 (32) with at least 28 games to play.
• For just the third time this season, the Mean Green pitching staff didn't allow an earned run.