DENTON, Texas – The UTEP softball team fell in a pair of two-run contests at North Texas, losing game one 2-0 and game two 8-6 to open Conference USA play on Saturday at Lovelace Stadium.
The Miners (5-17, 0-2 C-USA) and Mean Green (13-9, 2-0 C-USA) will play the series finale on Sunday at 1 p.m. CT/Noon MT.
UTEP tallied 15 hits on the day, including 10 in game two. The Miners have registered double-digit hits in six of the last seven games, hitting .345 (71-206) during that span.
In the game two, Courtney Clayton connected on her second home run of 2017, while freshman Macey Brown came up with another clutch hit with runners in scoring position.
UTEP 0, North Texas 2
The Mean Green scored two runs in the fifth behind Kelli Schkate and Lacey Gregory RBI knocks. Hannah Rebar doubled to right center to lead off the fifth and Bailey Thompson sacrificed Rebar to second on a sac bunt. Schkade followed with an RBI double to right field. Lindsay Gregory then singled as Schkade took third on the hit. Lacey Gregory gave North Texas the go-ahead 2-0 lead after singling her twin sister.
Starting pitcher Erika Harrawood (1-6) threw a solid outing, going 6.0 innings. The senior allowed six hits, four of which came in the fifth inning. Harrawood recorded three strikeouts and walked a pair on 83 tosses.
The Miners came up with a pair of hits in the seventh to put runners on. Kiki Pepi led off with a single; Ariel Blair was inserted as a pinch runner. Hope Moreno reached on a fielder’s choice (Blair out at second). Pamala Baber singled to left, advancing Moreno to second. But the Miners couldn’t connect on any more hits to advance runners across the dish.
UTEP tallied five hits during the contest. Clayton, Pepi, Moreno, Baber and Kaitlin Ryder each registered a knock.
North Texas’ Stacey Underwood (7-3) picked up the victory, throwing 7.0 frames, striking out three and walking none on 70 total pitches.
The game was played in under two hours (1:38).
UTEP 6, North Texas 8
After falling 7-1, the Miners came up with a big sixth inning to get within a run.
With one out in the sixth, Moreno singled to right and advanced to third after Cortney Smith followed with a double down the left field line. Brown, who was inserted as pinch hitter for Taylor Sargent, delivered another big hit as she singled in her two teammates and advanced to second on the throw (Sargent reentered the contest). Ryder singled up the middle, plating Sargent. Clayton then launched a two-run blast on the first pitch over left to make the score 7-6.
But North Texas got one of those runs back in the bottom half. With bases loaded and one out, Harley Perella grounded out to third base, but a runner crossed the dish, making the score 8-6. Kaitlin Fifield got out of the jam, forcing a groundout to end the inning.
UTEP couldn’t sustain any more offense get any base runners on in the seventh.
Clayton went 2-for-4, recording her eighth multi-hit game of the season and 50th of her career. Smith, who was hitless in her last four games, went 2-for-3 with an RBI in the fourth inning and Moreno, who was also hitless, but in her previous five games entering the weekend, produced a 2-for-4 outing. Brown, during her last three games played, is 3-for-7 (.429 avg.) and has produced five RBI.
The Mean Green took a commanding 6-0 lead after the second inning behind two RBI each from Lacey Gregory and Peralla. The Gregory twins combined for three RBI, while Peralla produced four in the series-clinching contest.