All season, North Texas has found ways to make things difficult on opposing pitchers. There have been few exceptions, especially at Lovelace Stadium, where the Mean Green had five losses entering the weekend.
Alabama-Birmingham is one of those rare exceptions after eking out a 2-1 win on Sunday to sweep the three-game series. The Blazers’ pitching staff held UNT (22-13, 8-4 Conference USA) at bay all weekend by allowing just three runs, and in doing so, UAB (20-14, 8-4) has drawn even with North Texas in the league standings.
“We knew we were going to have to play very good ball [against UAB] to get the win,” North Texas coach Tracey Kee said. “All weekend we struggled to get the leadoff runner on and manufacture runs, and you have got to credit UAB’s pitchers. For them to shut down this offense for three games, you have to tip your hat to them.”
This is the first three-game losing skid for North Texas since the season-opening Red and Black Showcase at Georgia.
The Mean Green came into the series batting .307, and were averaging 6.3 runs per game. The Blazers held UNT to five hits in a 9-1 win in the opener on Saturday, then followed with a 5-1 win that afternoon.
On Sunday, UNT left five runners stranded, including two in the bottom of the seventh inning. UAB’s Lannah Campbell (6-6) pitched 6 2/3 innings before giving way to Game 1 starter Leigh Streetman, who notched her first save of the year.
Kee was disappointed with the sweep but acknowledged that her team played better in Game 3. Ashley Kirk (14-6) struck out eight while keeping the Blazers guessing for most of the day. UAB had just one hit off Kirk through the first four innings, but that one hit was a solo home run by Caitlin Attfield in the top of the fourth inning.
UNT — which scratched out six hits — tied the game at 1-all in the bottom half of the fourth when Jordan Terry ripped a line-drive home run over the center-field fence.
“I think we came in with the right mindset today,” Terry said. “They had just scored a run, but we still felt like we were in the game. When I hit that home run, it gave us confidence. Today, we worked as one, but things just really fell into place for UAB and not so much for us.”
The Blazers reclaimed a one-run lead in the fifth and had a chance at breaking the game open with no outs and two runners on in the sixth, but North Texas shortstop Brooke Foster caught a hard line drive off the bat of Kristen McGrath and tagged the runner — who came off the bag at second — for a double play.
With two outs in the bottom of the seventh, Jackie Miller laced a double for North Texas. Bryana Wade was then hit by a pitch, which prompted UAB to bring in Streetman.
“No coach likes a sweep, especially at home,” Kee said. “But I look at it as two different days. [Saturday], we got beat all the way around, but today we played much better. I told the girls that I don’t leave after a lot of losses with a good feeling. But today I did. The game could have gone either way.”
UAB 2, North Texas 1
UAB 000 110 0 — 2 4 0
North Texas 000 100 0 — 1 6 0
WP — Lannah Campbell (6-6). LP — Ashley Kirk (14-6). Save — Leigh Streetman (1). HR — UAB: Caitlin Attfield. UNT: Jordan Terry. 2B — UNT: Jackie Miller. Records — North Texas 22-13, 8-4; UAB 20-14, 8-4.