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UNT feeling good about start despite loss to Oklahoma State at Lovelace

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Brett Vito, Staff Writer

North Texas entered a midweek game against Oklahoma State on Wednesday feeling pretty good about where it is early in the season. 

UNT had won six of its last seven games, including its first three in Conference USA play.

That start made a 10-2 loss to the Cowgirls at Lovelace Stadium a  lot easier to take.

Kristin Reasoner launched a three-run home run to center field in the first inning to give OSU (19-10) a lead it would never relinquish.

The Mean Green are hoping the loss will prove to be a blip on the radar as they head into a three-game C-USA series at Florida International this weekend. UNT (14-10) swept UTEP on the opening weekend conference play.

That sweep represented a milestone for UNT, which finished just 5-19 in C-USA a year ago and failed to advance to the conference tournament.

"I feel good about it," UNT coach Tracey Kee said of her team's start. "We had won six of our last seven games and have beaten some quality teams. We have been riding a wave, and sometimes that wave crashes. I would rather it happen tonight than Saturday."

UNT was picked to finish last in the C-USA preseason poll, but has quickly shown it could be a whole lot better than expected. The Mean Green have knocked off Texas Tech and Baylor, which was No. 23 at the time.

UNT's coaches and players attribute that start to better all-around play.

"We are working well together," UNT shortstop Kelli Schkade said. "If we are down early, we know our offense can pick it up and bring us back. Our pitchers believe in themselves."

Freshman Lacy Gregory credited UNT's start to the focus the team has maintained.

Kee felt like UNT's focus wavered a bit as far as its pitching staff was concerned in its loss to OSU. UNT used three pitchers and allowed 13 hits.

"We didn't play very well," Kee said. "That falls squarely on our pitchers and our inability to make adjustments on the mound. As the pitching coach, I take full responsibility for that."

UNT appeared as if it might work its way back into the game after Reasoner's home run when Gregory singled to shortstop and came around to score on a dropped fly ball in the bottom of the first.

OSU came right back with a run in the second, then broke the game open when Rylee Bayless doubled to center and drove home two runs to extend the Cowgirl lead to 6-1.

UNT managed just one more run against pitcher Brandi Needham, who allowed two runs — one earned — on five hits. 

Mean Green starter Stacey Underwood took the loss after giving up four runs on six hits in 1 2/3 innings. One of the runs Underwood allowed was unearned.

Gregory provided nearly all the punch UNT managed offensively, going 3-for-3. 

"We struggled a little bit and didn't make adjustments," Schkade said. "We need hits throughout the lineup."

UNT has gotten those hits more often than not early in the season and is in great position heading into its series at FIU.  The Panthers are 23-6 and appear to be one of C-USA's elite teams with their conference-opening series against UNT coming up.

"We feel good about the way we are playing," Gregory said. "[OSU] is a little bump in the road. We had won six of our last seven and are on a roll. We have to move past this and look forward to Miami."

Oklahoma State 10, North Texas 2

Oklahoma State 312 001 3 10 13 1
North Texas 101 000 0 2 5 0

Brandi Needham and Mackenzie Thomas. Stacey Underwood, Lauren Crain (2), Jessica Elder (4) and Nicole Ochotnicki. WP - Needham (9-4). LP - Underwood (8-4). 2B - OSU: Rylee Bayless 2, Vanessa Shippy, Jessi Haffner. 3B - OSU: Shippy. HR - OSU: Kristin Reasnor.