A new era for the North Texas softball program offcially began last weekend on the road in Georgia.
What transpired in that season-opening tournament has the Mean Green even more excited about hosting the Lovelace Invitational beginning today at Lovelace Stadium.
Tracey Kee will coach her first home game with the Mean Green at 3 p.m. against Nicholls State before UNT takes on Southern. The Mean Green will play five games this weekend.
“It’s very special,” Kee said. “I want the fans to see the new North Texas softball program in regard to the way we play the game, the way we look and the way we carry ourselves.”
UNT went 2-3 at the Red and Black Showcase last week in Athens, Ga. The Mean Green beat James Madison, split with Winthrop and lost twice to No. 23 Georgia.
Senior Ashley Kirk was the star of the weekend for UNT, posting a 2-1 record with a 2.10 ERA and 29 strikeouts, including 13 in the Mean Green’s win over Winthrop.
“We played pretty well last week for our first time out on the field as a unit,” Kirk said. “We stuck together, played fundamentally sound and did everything that we have been taught to do.”
Kee especially was pleased with the performance of Kirk and the rest of UNT’s pitching staff. Kirk gave up one earned run in eight innings against James Madison and one unearned run in six innings against Winthrop.
“I saw some very positive things with Kirk in terms of her demeanor and composure,” Kee said. “She is throwing the best in her career at this point. She is mechanically better.”
UNT will look to build on what Kee saw as a successful weekend during the first of three consecutive home tournaments. The Lovelace Invitational field is highlighted by Northern Iowa, which received votes in this week’s USA Today/NFCA poll after upsetting Texas.
“It’s going to be a tough tournament,” Kirk said. “That will be good for us. It’s good to see the good teams. That makes it exciting.”
10 a.m. — Southern vs. Northern Iowa
12:30 p.m. — Nicholls State vs. Northern Iowa
3 p.m. — North Texas vs. Nicholls State
5:30 p.m. — North Texas vs. Southern