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UNT’s Schoblocher leaves softball program

Profile image for By Brett Vito
By Brett Vito

Taylor Schoblocher, a key member of the North Texas softball team, has left the program and will not play her senior season with the Mean Green.

Schoblocher told The Denton Record-Chronicle she will remain at UNT as a student and finish out her degree, but that she no longer felt comfortable playing for UNT coach Tracey Kee and her assistant coach, Natalie Kozlowski.

Schoblocher confirmed her decision Wednesday afternoon, nearly three weeks after finishing a highly successful junior season that saw her lead the Mean Green in batting average (.389), home runs (17) and RBIs (42).

Schoblocher, a left fielder for the Mean Green, played her first season at UNT under T.J. Hubbard before Tracey Kee took over as head coach for the last two seasons.

Kee retained former assistant coach Rone Robinson for her first season in 2014, but she replaced him this season with Kozlowski, her former assistant coach at East Carolina University in Greenville, North Carolina.

“I have only been playing for this staff for a year,” Schoblocher said. “There were some things that happened during the year. We didn’t agree on some things, and there was a bit of a hostile environment. I lost the love and passion for the game.”

Kee declined comment Wednesday afternoon.

On Tuesday, she was asked if there are players with eligibility remaining who would not return to the program.

She said the status of some players is unclear, and a roster for the fall season would not be set until this summer.

The National Fastpitch Coaches Association named Schoblocher, a former North Forney standout, as a third-team selection on the Division I South All-Region team in 2015.

She was also named the ASA/USA National Player of the Week during the first week of the 2015 season when she hit six home runs and posted 12 RBIs. Her selection was a first for the Mean Green program.

Schoblocher hit 33 home runs and posted 95 RBIs during her three seasons at UNT.

“I was used to Coach Robinson,” Schoblocher said. “With Coach Kos [Kozlowski] coming in, something changed. The atmosphere was not good for me. I usually get along with everyone.”

Kee’s debut campaign in 2014 resulted in a 31-22 finish, which set a program record for wins.

Early this season, her second year as head coach, the Mean Green knocked off seventh-ranked Baylor for arguably the biggest win in program history.

But UNT couldn’t build on the momentum and lost 16 of 18 games late in the year.

UNT bounced back to sweep UTEP on the final weekend of the regular season, when the Mean Green needed to win two out of three to reach the Conference USA tournament.

The Mean Green lost to Florida Atlantic in the first round and finished 19-31 this spring. That loss left Kee with the lowest single-season win total of her career and just her third losing campaign in 18 years as a head coach.

Before arriving at UNT, Kee had been head coach at East Carolina University for 16 seasons from 1997-2012.

The school suspended her and Kozlowski in 2012 following an internal inquiry into complaints about the program. Kee and Kozlowski denied wrongdoing and refused to resign. East Carolina later fired them after a finding that the team operated in an emotionally hostile environment.

UNT athletic director Rick Villarreal declined to comment on Schoblocher’s departure.

Back when Villarreal hired Kee, he said he was comfortable with her despite her background at ECU.

“We never hire a coach without doing our due diligence,” Villarreal said at the time. “We have talked to people close to the situation, including those at the conference office, and feel comfortable and excited about her becoming part of our staff.”

 

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