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Softball: UNT takes opening game

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From news reports

TROY, Ala, -- Karly Williams scored the game-winning run in the bottom of the eighth inning to lift North Texas to a 7-6 victory over Florida Atlantic in the first game of the Sun Belt Conference tournament on Wednesday morning.

The No. 4-seed Mean Green will play top-seeded Western Kentucky at 3 p.m. today. North Texas improves to 28-22, while the No. 5 Owls fall to 27-28.

UNT jumped out to a 5-0 lead in the fourth inning but allowed FAU to rally and tie the game in the seventh. The Mean Green had a chance to win it in the bottom of the seventh but left two runners stranded.

In the eighth, UNT loaded the bases for Brooke Foster, who hit a grounder that the FAU shortstop misplayed, allowing the game-winning run to score.

Ashley Kirk (15-8) picked up the win, pitching a combined 61/3 innings. She pitched the first five innings before leaving with a 6-2 lead. She then returned in the seventh inning with the game tied. She struck out five batters and walked seven. Brittany Simmons pitched 12/3 innings of relief and gave up four runs off five hits.

The Mean Green exploded for five runs in the fourth after recording just one hit in the combined first three innings. Foster and Jackie Miller both homered in the fourth to put North Texas ahead 4-0. Tori Bice knocked in the fifth run with a pinch-hit single.

Taylor Schoblocher posted an RBI single in the bottom of the fifth to extend the Mean Green’s lead to 6-2.

FAU cut into the lead with two runs in the fifth and sixth innings. Kirk walked in two runs with the bases loaded in the fifth, and Carnesha Thompson knocked in two runs off Simmons in the sixth. Melissa Martinez tied the game with a two-run single in the top of the seventh.

Williams, who went 3-for-4, started the Mean Green offense in the eighth with a single up the middle. Bryana Wade followed with a walk, and Lesley Hirsch reached base on an error before Williams scored the game-winning run on shortstop’s error.