BIRMINGHAM, Ala. — For the third time this weekend, North Texas and UAB played a one-run ballgame. On Saturday the Mean Green finally came out on top.
UNT senior Jessica Elder (6-7) tossed a two-hit shutout and senior Kelli Schkade hit her team-best seventh home run , giving UNT a 1-0 victory.
“We were in a must-win situation today, and I’m pleased with the way this team responded after two close losses [Friday],” UNT coach Tracey Kee said. “We couldn’t have had better energy or played better as a team. If we can get some carryover down the stretch, we’ll be fine.”
With the win, UNT (22-20, 9-9 Conference USA) moves back into the No. 2 spot in the West Division, while UAB (15-27, 7-8) falls to third.
The shutout was Elder’s first of the season.
“Jess was amazing,” Kee said. “When she is on and dealing, her confidence is up. I thought she threw great [Friday] and was handed a one-run loss. We thought she matched up better with UAB’s hitters and she proved that today.”
After leaving runners in scoring position in the first and second innings, the Mean Green tallied the lone run in the third on Schkade’s solo homer to left field.
“Her hit was huge,” Kee said. “We hit the ball hard from the start, and to get that one shot early when we needed it and for it to stand is a credit to our team.”
UNT had a chance to break the game open in the top of the fourth but left the bases loaded when UAB’s Claire Blount got freshman Lacy Gregory to fly out to left.
UAB put its first runner in scoring position in the fourth, but Elder struck out Molli Garcia swinging to end the threat.
In the sixth, a pinch-hit double down the line in left by Rian Brown ended Elder’s no-hit bid, but Elder retired the next three Blazers to end the inning.
UAB’s Mary Warren singled to left to begin the seventh, but Elder buckled down again to complete the shutout.
“We have two series left and both are crucial,” Kee said. “We play two top teams — Louisiana Tech on the West and Florida Atlantic on the East — so we need to use these midweek games to get our game in check before FAU next weekend."
North Texas returns to Denton to host No. 10 Oklahoma at 6 p.m. Tuesday. The Mean Green will visit Abilene Christian at 5 p.m. Wednesday.