Softball: UNT set to open league play

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North Texas will open the Conference USA season today, when it will take on longtime rival Middle Tennessee.

The three-game series will begin with a doubleheader at 1 p.m. and will conclude with a noon game Sunday.

UNT (13-5) has played just six road games all season after playing host to three tournaments early in the year and is 3-3 in those games.

The Mean Green enters league play off a 6-1 win at Houston on Monday that snapped a two-game losing streak and continued a season-long trend that has seen UNT’s pitching staff produce at a high level.

Senior Ashley Kirk struck out nine in a complete-game win and enters conference play with an 8-2 record to lead a staff that ranks sixth in C-USA in team ERA at 2.89.

“Conference USA has always been a dominating pitching league,” UNT coach Tracey Kee said. “The teams that have the best staffs are the ones punching their tickets to the NCAAs.

“That is where we want to be. We want to take this program to a spot it has never been.”

A series at MTSU (5-17) could offer the Mean Green a chance to get off to a quick start in league play and take a step toward that goal. The Blue Raiders, one of UNT’s old rivals in the Sun Belt, have lost five straight.

UNT won a school record 11 straight games before dropping two games last weekend.

UNT ranks fifth in C-USA with a .305 team batting average and has three players who enter conference play hitting over .400. Danielle Hoff leads the team with a .418 average, while Brooke Foster and Jennifer Beardsley are both hitting .417.

BRETT VITO can be reached at 940-566-6870 and via Twitter at @brettvito.


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