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UTEP Softball Continues Home Slate as it Hosts Southern Miss

After its series win against Middle Tennessee, the UTEP softball team will host Conference USA West Division foe Southern Miss March 25-26. First pitch is set for 3 p.m. to begin Saturday’s doubleheader, while Sunday’s contest will start at 11 a.m. at the Helen of Troy Softball Complex.

The Miners (7-19, 2-4 C-USA), after a slow start in league action, rebounded last weekend as they won two of three games against Middle Tennessee at the Helen of Troy Softball Complex. It’s the second season in a row in which the Miners will host back-to-back conference weekends. Last season, UTEP split its six contests, losing three to UAB, but coming back strong with a sweep against North Texas to clinch a spot in the C-USA Tournament.

“It’s always nice to be at home no matter if it’s the beginning, middle or end of the season, we just feel more comfortable and confident playing at home,” fourth-year head coach Tobin Echo-Hawk said.

UTEP is 19-8 in C-USA contests at the Helen of Troy Softball Complex since 2015 and 24-15 since 2014.

The Golden Eagles (14-14, 1-5 C-USA) halted a four-game losing streak after edging South Alabama, 2-1, on March 22 in Hattiesburg. The Golden Eagles have lost six of the last nine games, which includes being swept against LA Tech March 18-19 and losing two of three at UAB March 11-12.

It’s a big series for both squads as each stand in the C-USA West Division. Last season, Southern Miss finished 14-10 to earn the no. 3 seed in the C-USA Tournament. UTEP was a no. 6 seed with a 13-11 league record.

“You know, it’s a big series for a lot of different reasons,” Echo-Hawk said. “If you look at our record against them last season, they kind of had our number and I think that’s a motivational factor. It’s also one of those series where the further you get into conference play, it’s nice to have those wins against teams in our division, and actually matter as far as seeding goes [for the C-USA Tournament]. We’re very similar with our records, so it’s important to win at least two of the three to win the weekend.”

Last season the two programs met four times in five days. Southern Miss won three contests in Hattiesburg, 3-0, 3-0 and 6-4 May 7-8. The two squads met again in the C-USA Tournament in Denton on May 11, with the Golden Eagles topping the Miners, 10-4.

UTEP will continue its home stretch when I-10 rival NM State heads to the Sun City for a doubleheader onMarch 28, starting at 5 p.m.

SCOUTING SOUTHERN MISS

The Golden Eagles are heading to the Helen of Troy this weekend with an overall record of 14-14. Southern Miss has tallied one conference win, which came against UAB, 10-4, on March 12. Last weekend they fell short all three games of the series to LA Tech, with game two going into 14 innings and finally ending at a 4-2 loss.

As a team, the Golden Eagles are hitting a total of .239 to rank 10th in Conference USA. Senior Lauren Holifield leading the line up with a .291 average, five home runs and 14 RBI. The pitching staff has totaled an ERA of 2.41 to rank fourth in C-USA. Junior Kim Crowson is producing the most success, as she has fashioned a 1.50 ERA to rank third in C-USA.

Crowson leads the staff in wins (six) and strikeouts (40) – ranks no. 12 in Ks in C-USA. Southern Miss ranks last in C-USA in runs (92), slugging (.328), home runs (12) and total bases (238). The Southern Miss pitching staff, however, ranks third in opposing batting average (.240) and fifth in least hits allowed (185).

ALL-TIME SERIES VS. SOUTHERN MISS

UTEP is 15-17-1 all-time versus Southern Miss. The Golden Eagles have won the last four contests, which included a sweep in Hattiesburg last season and a second-round victory at the Conference USA Tournament on May 11.

UTEP and Southern Miss have spit the last six contests at the Helen of Troy Softball Complex. The Golden Eagles took two of three contests in 2014, while the Miners returned the favor and won the series 2-1 in 2015. Southern Miss is 7-12 all-time at the Helen of Troy Softball Complex.

LAST WEEK

UTEP defeated Middle Tennessee twice during the March 18-19 series. The Miners won game one, 7-6, behind Kaitlin Ryder’s three-run home run and Erika Harrawood’s solid performance in the circle. Harrawood threw 6.1 innings, walked none, and struck out four batters. UTEP got tripped up in game two, but came back to win the series with a 10-7 win in weekend finale.

Middle Tennessee went up 5-0 in the first, but UTEP chipped away and scored 10 unanswered run the first four frames.

Courtney Clayton, Pamala Baber and Cortney Smith each recorded a pair of RBI in the series clinching victory. After Middle Tennessee went up 5-0 in the first frame, Devyn Cretz (4.0 IP) and Kaitlin Fifield (2.2 IP) kept the Blue Raiders’ bats in check, allowing only two runs on seven hits the next six innings. Cretz earned the win, while Fifield recorded her second save of the season.

COMEBACK KIDS

UTEP rallied from a 5-0 deficit on Sunday to defeat Middle Tennessee 10-7. The March 19 rally tied as the second-biggest come-from-behind victory in a conference game in program history, while it’s tied for fifth largest comeback in any contest in school history. UTEP rallied from 5-0 down to Colorado State after the top first to win 9-8 on Feb. 28, 2015 in Tucson, Ariz.

Earlier that season, the Miners scored eight runs in the top seventh to defeat Portland State, 8-5, in Las Vegas, Nev. on Feb. 13, 2015. The largest conference rally came against Southern Miss on March 10, 2012 in El Paso. The Miners were down 7-0 heading to the bottom first and rallied to win 13-12.

MOST RUNS, RBI & HITS COMBINED FOR IN A C-USA GAME

On March 19 UTEP and Middle Tennessee combined for the most runs (17), RBI (17) and hits (25) during a Conference USA only game up to this point of the season. The Miners banged out 13 hits during the 10-7 victory. The Miner and Blue Raiders also combined for the most stolen bases (five) during a conference only game.

GAME 3 RUNS & HITS VS. MT

UTEP clinched the series against Middle Tennessee with a 10-7 victory on March 19. The Miners tied their season highs in hits (13) and runs (10) during the victory. UTEP defeated Siena 10-2 (5) on Feb. 24, while connecting on 13 hits at New Mexico during a 7-4 triumph on March 8.

MOST RUNS/HITS DURING ECHO-HAWK ERA

During the Tobin Echo-Hawk era, the Miners’ single-game high is 17 hits on Feb. 11, 2016 against Incarnate Word, while the most runs scored was a 16-run output against Mount St. Mary’s on March 5, 2016. The hits (17) are ranked tied eighth in program history, while the runs scored is tied ninth.

OWNING MT

With UTEP’s 2-1 series win against Middle Tennessee on March 19, the Miners improved to 10-2 against the Blue Raiders all-time. UTEP is also 8-1 all-time versus MT at the Helen of Troy Softball Complex. The Miners, in 12 games played against the Blue Raiders, are hitting .394 (137-348) with 18 long balls. UTEP has outscored MT 88-51 during that span.

BAT WOMEN

After hitting .226 the first nine games of the season, the UTEP bats have caught fire, hitting .323 (153-473) during the last 17 contests. The Miners are currently ranked fifth in Conference USA with a .292 overall batting average (204-699). Marshall leads the league with a .317 batting average, while FIU (.312), UTSA (.303) and LA Tech (.299) round out the list. UTEP’s 204 hits rank sixth. FIU leads the league with 263 knocks.

DIGGING OUT TRIPLES

UTEP tallied its sixth triple of 2017 in game two against Middle Tennessee. UTEP is ranked tied fourth with Charlotte in Conference USA with six three-baggers. LA Tech leads the pack with 10, while UTSA and Marshall ranks tied second with seven apiece.

TOUGH OUT

UTEP has struck out 103 times in 699 at bats to rank ninth in Conference USA. Three Miners have kept their Ks low as Lindsey Sokoloski has whiffed only once in 75 at bats to rank first in C-USA and eighth nationally in toughest to strikeout. Courtney Clayton has struck out twice in 89 at bats to rank second in C-USA and 48th nationally.

Taylor Sargent has left the plate looking for swinging five times in 73 at bats to rank fifth in C-USA and tied no. 140 in the nation.

ROUGH RYDER

Kaitlin Ryder came up with a big weekend, producing six RBI and hitting .444 (4-9) during the series win against Middle Tennessee. During UTEP’s game one victory over the Blue Raiders, Ryder connected on her second home run of the season, a three-run shot over left in the second inning that put the Miners up 4-0.

Ryder is hitting .409 (9-22) with seven RBI the last seven contests. Overall, the junior is hitting .304 with two dingers and 13 RBI.

GAME SAVER

Kaitlin Fifield recorded her second save of 2017 after recording one against Middle Tennessee on March 19 in 2.2 innings of work. Fifield entered the contest with bases loaded and one out in the fifth with the Miners leading 10-5. The Blue Raiders only crossed the dish twice to get within three runs while Fifield only allowed one hit and walked no batters the next 2.0 innings.

Fifield recorded her first save of the season against Utah State on Feb. 24. Fifield is ranked tied first with five other players in Conference USA and tied no. 23 nationally. Fifield has four saves in her career to rank tied second on the program’s all-time saves’ list with four other players.

Gallery+Story: UTEP Rallies Past Middle Tennessee 10-7; Wins Weekend Series

Middle Tennessee scored five runs right off the bat to take a 5-0 lead in the first inning, but UTEP racked up 10 unanswered runs to hold on for a 10-7 series clinching victory on Sunday at the Helen of Troy Softball Complex.

The Miners (7-19, 2-4 Conference USA) and Blue Raiders (10-13, 1-5 C-USA) combined for 17 runs and 25 hits, the most during a single conference contest this season.

UTEP tied its season high in runs (10) and hits (13), while Devyn Cretz (5-5) picked up the victory and senior El Paso native Kaitlin Fifield notched her second save of the season to clinch the series triumph.

“It’s huge [to win the weekend series],” fourth-year head coach Tobin Echo-Hawk said. “Sometimes when you start off slow and you’re facing tough opponents, your record doesn’t show your progress. It’s big – especially at home – to get two of the three wins. It’s also a big confidence booster going into the rest of conference play.”

The Miners found themselves down five runs early and didn’t let the deficit affect them. In the bottom first with one out, freshman Pamala Baber – who’s had a hot bat the last few weeks – doubled in Kaitlin Ryder and Kiki Pepi. Ryder walked while Pepi singled to right field during the inning.

With the score 5-2, Taylor Sargent and Mallorie Cross used back-to-back singles to right, while Ariel Blair reached on an error to load the bases. The Miners would move the line to tie the game 5-5 after Courtney Clayton and Ryder came up with back-to-back RBI singles and Pepi drove in a run on a fielder’s choice.

The Orange and Blue took the go-ahead lead in the third inning. Cortney Smith led off the frame with a single to left. Sargent then attempted a sac-bunt, but reached first safely on the fielder’s choice as Smith was called safe at second. Cross advanced the runners to second and third on a sac-bunt to set up Macey Brown in a pinch-hit situation.

The freshman came up with a RBI single to left that scored Smith and Clayton gave the Miners a 7-5 advantage after a sac-fly to left that plated Sargent. Brown is 2-for-2 with three RBI in her last two pinch-hit at bats.

The Miners crossed the dish a trio of times in the fourth inning led by Smith’s two-run single up the middle and a Cross RBI single down the left line that scored pinch runner Brianna Red for a UTEP, 10-5, lead.

In the fifth, Fifield replaced Cretz in the circle after bases became loaded off back-to-back hits and a walked batter with one out. Fifield held the Blue Raiders’ bats in check after two runs scored on a single and a walked batter with bases loaded. She forced Precious Birdsong to pop out to the shortstop Smith, while the runner at first was thrown out at second on a fielder’s choice to end the rally.

In the seventh, Lexi Cushing led off with a hard single to right center. But the defense came up with a huge 4-6-3 double play that Kirstyn Cuccia hit into. Kristin Uselton, who homered on Saturday night, grounded out to third base to end the contest.

“After the fifth when [Middle Tennessee] came back and scored the two runs, it could’ve gone the same way as it did yesterday, but there was a different feel today,” Echo-Hawk said. “It was more of a feeling that we are going to win today, as opposed to being on our heels and holding our breath to see what happens. I think it started in the circle. Kaitlin did a great job and was super confident getting us some ground balls for that double play. After that double play, we knew no one else was going to get on base.”

Pepi (2-4), Baber (2-4), Smith (2-4) and Cross (2-2) each tallied multiple hits, while Clayton, Baber and Smith each recorded a pair of RBI. Sargent scored two runs and Blair stole her first bag of the season. Cretz threw 4.0 frames, striking out a pair of batters and Fifield threw 2.2 solid innings, allowing two hits.

“It’s not how you start the season, it’s how you finish the season,” Echo-Hawk said. “And as long as we progress throughout the course of the season, we’re going to be okay. I think everyone on the outside looking in thinks things are going bad. But we’re hitting our stride and getting better every single day.”

Last season, UTEP was 9-18 heading into a league series against LA Tech in El Paso. The Miners won the series, while eventually advancing to the C-USA Tournament.

Up Next

UTEP will continue its home slate as Southern Miss make its way to the Sun City for a three-game seriesMarch 25-26. Saturday’s contests will start at 3 p.m., while Sunday’s game is a 11 a.m. start. The Miners will then host rival NM State in a doubleheader on March 28.

Photos by Andres Acosta, El Paso Herald-Post Chief Photographer

UTEP Wins Game One, 7-6; Falls Short in Game Two

Kaitlin Ryder connected on a three-run home run and El Paso native Erika Harrawood earned a victory as UTEP defeated Middle Tennessee 7-6, in the first game of Saturday’s doubleheader at the Helen of Troy Softball Complex.

Ryder tallied two more RBI in game two but the Blue Raiders (10-12, 1-4 Conference USA) held on to win their first ever game in El Paso, 5-2, over the Miners (6-19, 1-4 C-USA).

“[Middle Tennessee] is a scrappy team and much improved,” fourth-year head coach Tobin Echo-Hawk said. “They kept fighting and did a better job, especially in the second game.”

The series finale is Sunday at noon. Fan can get in free with canned food for Home Run for the Hungry.

UTEP 7, Middle Tennessee 6

Harrawood (2-7) won her first ever game in her hometown, hurling 6.1 frames with five runs (four earned) while striking out four and walking none.

“She did a great job,” Echo-Hawk said about Harrawood’s performance. “She got some really big outs for us. Even in the that first inning there were runners on and she did a nice job of getting herself out of those tough situations. She did it multiple times throughout the game. It was just a great and solid performance. She didn’t give up too many big hits with runners in scoring position.”

The UTEP offense gave Harrawood a comfortable 7-0 lead before Middle Tennessee made a bid for a comeback.

Hope Moreno put the Miners on the board in first inning on a groundout to second base. Moreno still recorded an RBI as Lindsey Sokoloski crossed the dish for an early 1-0 advantage. Sokoloski reached on an error and advanced to second. She would eventually find herself at third after Kiki Pepi singled.

It was in the second inning Ryder blew the game open with her second dinger of the season. The junior drove a 1-2 pitch over left that put her squad up 4-0.

In the fourth, Courtney Clayton singled in Taylor Sargent, who had led off the inning with a single to left. Pepi then used a first-pitch double up the middle, scoring Clayton and Ariel Blair for a 7-0 lead.

Middle Tennessee scored two runs in the sixth behind a RBI each from Morgan Harris and Dani Munoz. Things got interesting in the seventh when the Blue Raiders crossed the dish four more times, but Devyn Cretz notched her first career save by forcing a groundout by Kaylyn Slatter with one runner on to end the ball game.

Pepi finished 2-for-3 with two RBI (19 RBI in 2017). Sargent produced her first multi-hit game (2-for-3) since March 5 and Pamala Baber finished with a 2-for-3 outing and a run scored. Ryder produced a season-high three RBI and six putouts from behind the plate. Ryder made her first start at catcher since Feb. 26 against Utah State.

Harrawood, at one point in the ball game, retired 10 consecutive batters that started in the second inning. The Blue Raiders went down in order the next three innings before Precious Birdsong led off the sixth inning with a single.

UTEP 2, Middle Tennessee 5

The Blue Raiders took an early 2-0 lead in the second frame off a RBI each from Kristin Uselton and Keely McGee.

The fighting Miners answered with a pair of runs of their own off Ryder’s bat in the third inning. Cortney Smith led off with a single while Blair used an infield single to reach first. Ryder came in to pinch hit for Sokoloski and came up with a two-run single to left on a 1-0 pitch that plated Smith and Blair.

After two scoreless innings, Munoz doubled off the wall with one out in the sixth. Lexi Cushing came in as a pinch hitter and singled in Munoz for a 3-2 edge. After Kirstyn Cuccia popped out to second, Uselton came up with a big two-run home run over left. Baber, who made the start at left, almost came up with the steal above the fence, but she couldn’t hold on to the ball in the valiant effort.

“It was in her glove,” Echo-Hawk said. “It’s like I told [the team], sometimes when things are not going your way, everything doesn’t go your way. She had a glove on it and almost made a great play.”

The Miners looked to rally as Clayton, with two outs, doubled to left. Ryder then followed with a single that advanced Clayton to third. But Pepi flied out to center to end the contest.

Clayton tallied another multi-hit game, going 2-for-3. It was her ninth multi-hit game of the season and no. 51 for her career. Ryder produced two more hits, while Smith finished 2-for-3.

The pitching staff as a unit on Saturday, only walked two batters and struck out seven Blue Raiders. Cretz (4-5), the game two starter, struck out three in a complete game effort.

“[The pitching staff] is getting much better and much improved,” Echo-Hawk said. “We just need to play better defense behind the pitchers. Sometimes we get on our heels on defense and should have more of an attack kind of mentality.”

UTEP, however, did turn another double play in game two. It’s the tenth double play turned in 2017.

UTEP Softball to Open Home Slate Against Middle Tennessee

The UTEP softball team will open its first home series of the season as the Miners will host Conference USA foe Middle Tennessee March 18-19. Saturday’s doubleheader will begin at 3 p.m.while Sunday’s contest has been moved to a noon start at the Helen of Troy Softball Complex.

Admission for Saturday’s game is $5 for adults and $3 for children, while Sunday’s promotion is ‘Home Run for the Hungry’ – fans who bring canned food will get in free.

The Miners (5-18, 0-3 C-USA) and the Blue Raiders (9-11, 0-3 C-USA) each dropped their league openers last weekend. UTEP was tripped up at North Texas, while WKU took care of Middle Tennessee in Murfreesboro.

After being on the road for 16 ‘away dates’, the Miners will play in the friendly confines of Helen of Troy Field for the next five home dates. UTEP will host Southern Miss March 25-26 and rival NM State on March 28.

“It’s just a great feeling to be at home, knowing your surroundings, for the team to sleep in their own beds and playing in front of our fans,” fourth year head coach Tobin Echo-Hawk said. “It’s something the kids really need right now.”

The Miners have dominated the Blue Raiders the last few seasons, forging an 8-1 record, but Echo-Hawk doesn’t look at past teams. She’s looking at their current roster.

“[Middle Tennessee] is a lot better this season,” Echo-Hawk said. Their pitching is better, their hitters are better and we’re definitely going to see a different team than we’re used to seeing. We just need to make sure we show up and play; our kids are not looking so much at the opponent we’re playing, they’re looking at themselves to try to get better.”

UTEP has struggled up to this point of the season, but has produced solid victories during the last month and a half. The Miners pulled out a 7-5 win on Feb. 24 against a Utah State squad that is currently 16-5. The Orange and Blue defeated Wichita State on 6-1 in Lubbock; the Shockers were 10-4 prior to the March 5 matchup. UTEP won 5-3 at NM State for the first time since 2010. The Miners won 7-4 at New Mexico on March 8; the Lobos are currently 14-10 this season. And a run-rule victory was notched against Siena on Feb. 24 by the score of 10-2 (5).

“We need to put just more than one aspect of the game together,” Echo-Hawk said. “There’s the defensive side, the pitching side and hitting side, and at any one point, we’ve been missing one of those three things. In order for us to be more successful, we have to have all three at the same time. We’re focusing on putting all three together to win more ball games.”

UTEP was in a similar situation with a 9-18 record last season heading into the C-USA home opener against LA Tech. The Miners would sweep the Lady Techsters March 19-20, which included winning eight consecutive league games from March 19-April 2.

WEEKEND FESTIVITIES

Fans will receive the 2017 UTEP Softball schedule poster featuring seniors Kaitlin Fifield, Taylor Grohmann, Miranda Gutierrez, Erika Harrawood and Kiki Pepi. Part of the season giveaway will be 2017 UTEP Softball player cards – freshman cards will be handed out March 18-19 featuring Pamala Baber,Macey Brown, Mallorie Cross, Allie Johnson, Bryanna Molina and Ruby Sanchez.

A food truck will be available for fans in the parking lot at Helen of Troy Softball Complex for Saturday’s two-game set. Pay Dirt Pete will throw out the first pitch on Saturday, while Jesse Munoz will toss Sunday’s first pitch. Munoz has been the head coach at Americas High School for over a decade and recently won his 300th-career game.

The team will have an autograph session for all fans following Sunday’s contest.

LAST WEEK

UTEP went 1-4 as it defeated New Mexico 7-4 in game two of a March 8 doubleheader in Albuquerque. The Miners recorded a season-high 13 hits against the Lobos during the victory. UTEP took a 4-1 lead before New Mexico tied it in the sixth. Kiki Pepi, who went 2-for-3, led off the seventh with a triple to right. Mallorie Cross used a sac-fly to center to score pinch runner Ariel Blair. Freshman Macey Brown came up with a clutch two-run double to secure the triumph.

In the Conference USA opener at North Texas, the Miners fell in a pair of tight two-run contests, getting edged 2-0 and 8-6. The Mean Green jumped on the Miners early in the series finale to take the series. Courtney Clayton hit a home run in the game two, a two-run shot in the sixth that brought her squad within one run after falling behind 7-1.

In the first game, both sides receiving solid pitching performances. Erika Harrawood hurled 6.0 frames, recording three strikeouts.

ALL-TIME SERIES VS. MIDDLE TENNESSEE

UTEP is 8-1 all-time versus Middle Tennessee. The Miners have fashioned an undefeated record (6-0) against the Blue Raiders in the Sun City which included sweeps in 2014 and 2015. Last season in Murfreesboro, day one saw a split as the Miners defeated the Blue Raiders 7-2 in game one behind Linda Garcia’s 3-for-4 outing that included a two-run home run in the fifth, giving the Miners a 6-1 lead.

Kaitlin Fifield earned the win, throwing 7.0 frames and only walking one. In the game two, Middle Tennessee notched its first ever win against UTEP, 9-3. Cortney Smith, Kawehiokalani Netane and Garcia each homered in the loss. The Miners would rebound after the loss to rally for a series clinching 9-6 victory the next day.

The Blue Raiders took a 6-4 lead after scoring a pair of runs in the sixth. But the Miners exploded for five runs in the next frame on a Garcia RBI double, a Danielle Pearson two-run double and a Courtney Clayton two-run bomb over left. UTEP is hitting .399 (105-263) all-time against Middle Tennessee.

SCOUTING MIDDLE TENNEESSEE

The Blue Raiders are making their way to the Sun City this weekend with a current record of 9-11. Middle Tennessee fell short in all three games to WKU in its Conference USA opener this past weekend in Murfreesboro. The Blue Raiders have recorded a .261 average at the plate as junior Precious Birdsong is leading the squad with a .442 average and 23 hits.

Birdsong ranks fifth in C-USA in batting, while her .473 on-base percentage ranks seventh. Senior Austyn Whaley is also contributing to run production with 16 RBI, 11 runs and three home runs. The pitching staff currently has a 2.15 ERA to rank third in Conference USA. Junior Cori Jennings looks to be hard at work with ten starts and five wins under her belt for this season.

Jennings also has a 1.88 ERA, ranking sixth in C-USA, and has tallied 43 strike outs to rank no. 10 in conference. Middle Tennessee is ranked last in C-USA with its 79 runs scored.

C-USA HOME OPENERS

Under head coach Tobin Echo-Hawk’s direction, the Miners have gone 7-2 in the past three years during Conference USA home openers. The Miners lost two of three against Southern Miss March 8-9, 2014, but swept Middle Tennessee March 7-8, 2015 and LA Tech March 19-20, 2016.

Before the Echo-Hawk Era (2011-2013), the Miners tallied a record of 2-7 in conference openers at the Helen of Troy Softball Complex. During the 2015 sweep of Middle Tennessee, UTEP scored 26 runs and allowed only six during the three-game weekend.

TOUGHEST TO K

UTEP has struck out 91 times, ranking no. 9 (fourth least) in Conference USA. Lindsey Sokoloski ranks tied no. 17 nationally in toughest to strikeout (one strikeout in 72 at bats) and is tops in Conference USA in that statistical department. Courtney Clayton has kept her strikeouts to a minimum as she’s only left the batter’s box swinging or looking three times in 79 at bats.

Clayton ranks no. 77 nationally and tied second in C-USA. Taylor Sargent has only struck out four times in 64 at bats. The Miners struck out 40 times in 226 at bats (first nine games), but have kept those to a minimum the last 14 games, striking out 51 times in 388 at bats.

BATS HAVE PICKED UP

After hitting only .226 the first nine games of the season, UTEP is hitting .312 during its last 14 games. Those first nine contests only saw eight extra base hits (5 2B, 1 3B, 2 HR), while the Miners have registered 36 extra base hits (21 2B, 4 3B, 11 HR) their last 14 games. The last 10 games, UTEP is hitting .318 with seven home runs, two triples and 16 doubles.

UTEP has registered nine games of 10 or more hits, including six multi-hit games in the last eight contests. The season high came at New Mexico on a 13-hit outing during a game two victory. UTEP is currently hitting .280, ranking seventh in Conference USA.

DIGGING OUT TRIPLES

UTEP has tallied five triples in 2017, ranking fifth in Conference USA. LA Tech leads the way with nine, while UTSA and Marshall have recorded seven each and Charlotte has tallied six triples.

Lindsey Sokoloski leads UTEP with two, while ranking tied fifth in conference. Kiki Pepi, Kaitlin Ryder and Hope Moreno have each recorded a triple this season.

SUPER SOPHOMORE

Cortney Smith got off to a smoking start with her bat this season. The sophomore leads the team and ranks 17th in Conference USA with a .345 batting average. Smith leads the Miners and is ranked tied fifth with six home runs. Smith hit four home runs her freshman season.

Smith ranks second on the squad in RBI (12) and leads the team in doubles (six). Smith ranks tied eighth in doubles in C-USA, while her .782 slugging percentage is ranked fourth. Smith also leads the team with four multiple-RBI games. Smith registered a seven-game hitting streak from Feb. 24-March 4, hitting .571 (12-21) in that span. Her numbers included five runs, eight RBI, five doubles and four home runs during the seven-game stretch.

CATCHING CROSS

Mallorie Cross has started the last 10 games behind the plate for the Miners. The freshman is hitting .300 with four RBI and a double during that span. She’s also tallied 32 putouts and four assists from behind the dish in the last 10 contests. For the season, Cross is hitting .304 to lead all UTEP freshman.

Cross has chipped in with five RBI and a pair of doubles, while defensively, she’s recorded 43 putouts and six assists.

BABER’S BAT BATTLING

Pamala Baber entered the March 8 doubleheader at New Mexico hitting under .200. But the freshman has been more patient and is hitting .417 (5-12) the last five games.

Baber blasted her first career home run at New Mexico a two-run shot over left on the first pitch. The dinger would actually start a string of at bats in which she reached base safely in six consecutive plate appearances. Baber followed with a double in the first game against the Lobos. In game two, she connected on a solo home run, walked her next two at bats and then followed with a single.

Baber is hitting .235 with four RBI and three doubles. Her patience is evident as Baber leads the team with 10 walks. Baber also leads the team with a trio of stolen bags. Baber is ranked tied second on the team with 12 runs scored. Baber has started 20 games this season, including the last seven in center field. Baber has registered 27 putouts and an assist.

PEPI’S POP

Kiki Pepi started the season slow but has picked her play. Pepi leads the Miners with 17 RBI and is ranked tied 12th in Conference USA. Pepi ranked second on the team with a .338 batting average and has recorded four doubles, two home runs and a triple. Pepi is tied second on the team with 12 runs scored.

Pepi has produced some big numbers during UTEP victories this season. Pepi hit her first career grand slam during a 7-5 triumph against Utah State, while tying her career high with five RBI. Pepi racked up four RBI that also included a line drive two-run home run in 5-3 a victory at NM State. The senior infielder came up huge again by amassing five more RBI during the Miners’ 6-1 win against Wichita State.

SOKO EMERGING

Lindsey Sokoloski has started all 23 games this season, while making nine starts in the outfield. The sophomore is hitting .292 with three RBI, a double, eight runs and a team-leading two triples. Sokoloski has also tallied 16 putouts and one assist.

Sokoloski established her career high in hits with a 3-for-4 outing against Wichita State on March 5 and followed with another 3-for-4 performance at New Mexico on March 8. She’s a tough strikeout as Sokoloski ranks tied no. 17 nationally in toughest to strikeout (one strikeout in 72 at bats) and is tops in Conference USA.

BROWN DELIVERING

Macey Brown recorded her first career hit at New Mexico during a game two victory. Her first hit was also her first career RBI in the sixth inning that put her squad up 4-1. After the Lobos tied the contest, Brown followed with her first career double that resulted in two more RBI that gave the Miners the go-ahead 7-4 lead.

Brown delivered again at North Texas as she connected on a pinch-hit, two-run single at North Texas. Brown has made five starts in the last six games, which also included a start at first base on March 4 against Wichita State.

North Texas Completes Sweep of UTEP 9-1

DENTON, Texas – Hope Moreno tied her career high in hits (3-for-3), but North Texas jumped on UTEP early and never looked back to complete the Conference USA opening sweep, 9-1 (6), on a cold Sunday afternoon at Lovelace Stadium

The Miners (5-18, 0-3 C-USA) will start winless in league play for a second consecutive season, while the Mean Green (14-9, 3-0 C-USA) reversed their fortunes from last season to start conference action undefeated.

Hope Moreno - UTEP
Hope Moreno – UTEP

UTEP started 0-3 last season after being swept at Marshall, but would go on to win its next eight C-USA games.

North Texas scored four runs in the first and two more the following frame. In the first, Lacy Gregory connected on a two-run home run on a 2-0 pitch, while an error in deep left field by Kaitlin Ryder with two outs paved the way for two runs to score. In the second inning, Lacey Gregory and Harley Parella each registered an RBI.

UTEP would load the bases in back-to-back innings, but couldn’t come up with clutch hits.

Bases were juiced with one out in the fifth, when Hope Moreno singled, Ryder reached on a fielder’s choice (Moreno safe at second on an error) and Pamala Baber drew a full-count walk. But Macey Brown hit into a double play to end the rally.

In the sixth, with two outs, Kiki Pepi walked on a 3-1 pitch and Cortney Smith singled to left. Moreno came up with her third hit of the contest, plating Pepi for the Miners’ only run on the day. Ryder also drew a walk to load the bases. Mallorie Cross then flied out to center to end another rally.

The Mean Green loaded the bases in the sixth as the game-winning run crossed on a walk. UTEP pitchers combined for seven walks to no strikeouts.

Up Next

UTEP will host its first home contests of 2017 as C-USA foe Middle Tennessee will make its way to the Sun City for a March 18-19 three-game set. The Miners will then host league opponent Southern Miss March 25-26

and I-10 rival NM State in a doubleheader March 28 at the Helen of Troy Softball Complex.

North Texas Sweeps UTEP on Day One of C-USA Opener

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.

UTEP Softball to Open C-USA Action at North Texas

After a two-game split at New Mexico, the UTEP softball team will open Conference USA play at North Texas March 11-12. Saturday’s doubleheader is scheduled to start at noon MT/1 CT, while Sunday’s series finale is set for noon MT in Denton Texas.

After the North Texas series, the Miners will finally return to the Sun City to start a string of eight consecutive home contests (five home dates). UTEP will host C-USA foes Middle Tennessee (March 18-19), Southern Miss (March 25-26) and a doubleheader against I-10 rival NM State in the FirstLight Federal Credit Union Battle of I-10 (March 28).

LAST SERIES

UTEP split a two-game set at New Mexico on March 8. The Lobos rallied off D’Andra DeFlora’s three-run home run in the sixth inning to down the Miners 7-6. Pamala Baber broke out with her first career long ball, a crushing shot over left on a first-pitch swing. In game two, New Mexico would tie the game 4-4 after back-to-back home runs in the sixth.

But the Miners would respond with three runs in the seventh, a Macey Browntwo-run double and a Mallorie Cross sacrifice fly to center that secured a 7-4 victory.

The seventh inning got started when Kiki Pepi led off with her second career triple. Ariel Blair was inserted as a pinch runner for Pepi that led the Cross’s sac-fly RBI. Baber crossed the dish four times, tying for second during a single game on the all-time list. The Miners hit .381 (24-63) which included a season-high 13 knocks in game two. Baber hit .800 with two home runs and three RBI.

Prior to the trip the Albuquerque, UTEP won a game at the Texas Tech Invitational, defeating Wichita State, 6-1, on March 5.

ALL-TIME SERIES VS. NORTH TEXAS

North Texas leads the all-time series 8-4, but have dropped its last three contests to UTEP. The Miners swept the Mean Green at the Helen of Troy Softball Complex April 30-May 1. The series clean up secured a spot in the 2016 Conference USA Tournament that was held in Denton, Texas.

UTEP outscored North Texas 19-11 in the three wins, while hitting .368 (32-87), six home runs and eight doubles. Courtney Clayton led the way with a .545 batting average along with a pair of doubles (registered school-record 20th double on May 1).

Kaitlin Ryder hit .500 with a home run and four RBI, and Taylor Sargent hit .400 with two solo home runs.Kaitlin Fifield picked up a pair of victories in the series (2.40 ERA, 11.2 IP, 0 BB, 7 K). UTEP is 0-4 all-time at North Texas, but did pick up a victory against FIU on the Mean Green field at the 2016 C-USA Tournament.

The Miners were swept in the three-game series May 2-3, 2015. North Texas won those contests, 12-4 (6), 9-3 and 14-6 (6).

SCOUTING NORTH TEXAS

The Mean Green will be heading into their first conference face off against the Miners with an 11-9 record for their preseason games. This past weekend North Texas also competed in Lubbock and although it did not face the Miners, the Mean Green took two wins from Wichita State, 7-2 and 14-10, and split with Texas Tech losing the first game 6-5 and winning the second one 12-11.

The Mean Green also had a big win against no. 15 Baylor, beating them 3-2 earlier in the season. They have been pretty solid all the way through their hitting line up, recording a .277 average as a team. Senior Kelli Schkade is currently leading the team with a .378 average, 28 hits, three home runs and 12 RBI.

Schkade also has only tallied four strikeouts out of her 74 at bats. Lacy Gregory (.333 avg.) has amassed 19 RBI (team leader) and has connected on a team-best four home runs. Harley Perella is tied for second with Schkade in RBI (12) and home runs (three). The Mean Green pitching staff currently has an ERA of 4.41, with senior Stacey Underwood (6-3) coming out of top with a 2.71 ERA and leads the staff in wins. Underwood has has struck out 43 batters in 62.0 innings, while walking 23.

The staff has walked 58 batters in 135.0 innings this season. North Texas has been outscored 105-87, while hitting 15 dingers on the season.

 

Miners Split Series Against New Mexico 7-4, 7-6

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. – UTEP freshmen Pamala Baber (two home runs) and Macey Brown (three RBI) had breakout performances as the Miners split their two games at New Mexico.

The Lobos (10-10) scored three runs in the sixth to rally from 6-4 down to win game one, 7-6, while the Miners (5-15) secured a 7-4 victory after scoring three runs in the seventh at Lobo Softball Field on a Wednesday afternoon.

“It’s nice to come off a hard loss when you’re ahead and you lose it towards the end of the game, so it’s nice to bounce back and get that win,” fourth-year head coach Tobin Echo-Hawk said. “(In game two) when (New Mexico) tied it in the bottom of the sixth, it was one of those where the team could’ve crumbled and said, ‘oh, here we go again’, but they did nice job getting some runs and putting pressure on the other team.”

Baber connected on her first career home runs, one in each contest, and reached base in her last six at bats. Baber launched a monster two-run home run in the fourth inning of game one, the first of her career, and connected on a solo shot in the game two.

Baber, in those six at bats, homered and doubled in game one; followed with her second dinger, two consecutive walks and a single in game two.

Brown, who started at the designated player, had entered game two with no hits. Brown connected on her first career knock that resulted in a RBI and followed her next at bat with a two-run double.

“It’s nice to see (Baber and Brown) come into their own and finally start to hit the ball,” Echo-Hawk said. “We know they can hit. I think as freshman they’re working into things and getting used to how our game works, the speed of our game. They both had clutch hits, so I couldn’t be happier and I hope it continues.”

The Miners tallied 11 hits in the first game and a season-high 13 knocks in game two, making it five consecutive games with double-digit hits and eight of the last 11 contests.

UTEP 6, New Mexico 7

The Miners took a 4-0 lead after Baber’s two-run bomb over left. The scoring spree started with Courtney Clayton crossing the dish in the third inning. Clayton swiped third base, while an error by the catcher paved the way for the runner to score. In the fourth, prior to Baber’s home run, Mallorie Cross gave UTEP a 2-0, plating Mariah Ellis on a double to center. Ellis was hit by a pitch on the helmet to reach base.

New Mexico answered with three runs in the bottom fourth led by Cheyenne Smith’s two RBI. In the fifth, UTEP took a 5-3 lead on an Ellis RBI single that plated Lindsey Sokoloski.

UTEP would take a 6-4 lead in the sixth on a Sokoloski RBI double that scored Baber.

But the Lobos took the go-ahead 7-6 lead on a one-out, three-run home run by D’Andra DeFlora.

Sokoloski tied her career high with her second consecutive three-hit performance (3-for-4), while Cross established her career high with three knocks (3-for-4). Baber also registered a career bests in hits (two) and runs scored (two).

Taylor Grohmann started the contest, throwing 4.0 innings. UTEP stole three bases as Sokoloski swiped her second of the season, and Ellis and Clayton stole their first of the year.

UTEP 7, New Mexico 4

The Miners took a 4-1 lead in the sixth on Brown’s first career hit and RBI. But the Lobos would tie the contest in the bottom half on back-to-back home runs – a two-run shot by Michala Erickson and a solo shot by Lauren Wilmert.

But UTEP didn’t let it phase them as Pepi led off the seventh with a triple to deep right field. Ariel Blair was then inserted to pinch run for Pepi. Cross gave her squad a 5-4 lead on a sacrifice fly to center field that scored Blair. Baber followed with a two-out single, while Ryder reached on an error to set the stage for Brown.

The first-year Miner used her second career hit to double in Baber and Ryder to take the 7-4 lead.

Devyn Cretz (4-3) earned the win, throwing 1.2 innings. The redshirt freshman, who didn’t record a strikeout in her last start, fanned three Lobo batters. Cretz used back-to-back Ks to get Callie McGarrigle looking and Jade Gray swinging to end the contest.

Clayton recorded her seventh multi-hit game of the season and 49th of her career after a 3-for-5 outing. Ryder tied her career high in hits on a 3-for-4 performance, while Baber went 2-for-2 with two walks. Taylor Sargent was busy at first base as she recorded 10 putouts (17 total in the two games).

Up Next

UTEP will open Conference USA action at North Texas March 11-12. The Miners and Mean Green will play a doubleheader on Saturday starting at noon MT/1 CT. Sunday’s series finale is set for noon MT in Denton. UTEP swept North Texas in El Paso last year, while the Mean Green won all three games against the Miners during the 2015 series.

UTEP to Play Two at New Mexico on Wednesday

The UTEP softball team will continue its nonconference slate on the road at New Mexico on March 8. The Miners and Lobos will play a two-game set starting at 2 p.m. at Lobo Softball Field.

The Miners (4-14) and Lobos (9-9) will meet for a seventh consecutive season, while it’s the fourth time in five years the contests will be played at New Mexico. The two programs met last season at Helen of Troy Softball Complex.

After its trip up the road to Albuquerque, UTEP will open Conference USA action at North Texas on March 11-12. The Miners will finally play in the Sun City on March 18 against C-USA foe Middle Tennessee that will start five home dates in a row (eight consecutive home games). UTEP will host the Blue Raiders (March 18-19), Southern Miss (March 25-26) and rival NM State in a doubleheader (March 28).

Albuquerque native Taylor Sargent will return to her hometown as she played at Volcano Vista High School. Senior Taylor Grohmann was born in Albuquerque, but grew up in El Paso and played her high school softball at Americas.

LAST WEEK

UTEP registered two wins in five games last week (March 1-5). The Miners started their fourth week of play by beating NM State, 5-3, in Las Cruces. It was the first win at NM State since Feb. 15, 2010. Kiki Pepicame up with four RBI, including a two-run home run against the Aggies. Devyn Cretz earned the win andErika Harrawood was credited with a save.

Hope Moreno tallied an RBI after she got hit by a pitch was bases loaded. The Miners dropped their next three contests, losing at Texas Tech twice and against Wichita State. The Orange and Blue recorded 45 hits (.331 avg.) during the five-game stretch, while double-digit hits were tallied in four of those contests. UTEP recorded 11 at NM State, 10 and 12 against Wichita State, respectively, and 10 at Texas Tech.

The Miners hit four dingers, led by Cortney Smith’s two bombs andKaitlin Ryder’s first four-bagger of 2017.

ALL-TIME SERIES VS. NEW MEXICO

UTEP is 8-14 all-time against New Mexico, dating back to Feb. 29, 2004. The Miners are 3-7 all-time in Albuquerque as the two schools last met up the road during the 2015 season. The Lobos won both contests that season, 7-5, and, 7-4.

In 2016, New Mexico pulled off a second straight sweep, beating UTEP, 8-2, and, 7-6. The Miners hit .377 (23-61) against the Lobos as Courtney Clayton went 4-for-8 in the two contests, while adding two runs, two doubles and two RBI. Kaitlin Ryder hit .600 (3-for-5) with a pair of runs and a double and Ariel Blair went 3-for-7 with two runs scored. UTEP last won at New Mexico during the 2014 season, a 7-6 triumph.

SCOUTING NEW MEXICO

The Lobos have recorded a split overall record so far of 9-9 in their preseason ventures. New Mexico has defeated Seattle, 5-0, St. Mary’s, 4-3, UC Riverside, 1-0 and Texas State, 3-2. The Lobos also faced off against Conference USA team UTSA, splitting the pair of games. The Lobos have taken down against Missouri State twice, Stephen F. Austin twice and no. 5 Texas A&M, all in College Station.

The Lobos are currently hitting a .281 average at the plate, with senior Jasmine Casados leading the team in RBI (14), hits (26) and doubles (six). On the defensive side, the pitching staff has recorded a 3.19 ERA. The majority of pitching time has been given to freshman Jenson Main and senior Tess McPherson who have both totaled four games this season. McPherson leads in strikeouts with 20.

Miners Take Care of Wichita State 6-1, Behind Pepi’s 5 RBI

LUBBOCK, Texas – Kiki Pepi tied her career high with five RBI and the UTEP softball team had an all-around solid performance to take down Wichita State, 6-1, on a sunny Sunday morning on the final day of the Texas Tech Invitational at Rocky Johnson Softball Field.

The Miners (4-14) recorded 12 hits on the day, as Pepi, Courtney Clayton and Lindsey Sokoloski each connected on three. Sokoloski set a career high in that department, while Clayton registered her sixth multi-hit game of the season and 48th of her career.

“Offensively, we had one of our better days,” fourth-year UTEP head coach Tobin Echo-Hawk said. “We did a nice job, not only getting hits, but getting hits in key situations with runners in scoring position. We’ve struggled at times with that this season, so it was nice to see players step up and come through.”

Devyn Cretz (3-3) won her third game in her young career, hurling 5.1 frames and only allowing three hits with one earned run. Erika Harrawood, though didn’t get credit with the save, finished the contest (1.2 inning) and struck out Laurie Derrico to secure the victory.

UTEP put up two quick runs in the first as Wichita State starter Jenni Malone threw over 30 pitches. Clayton led off with a hard liner off Malone and Sokoloski followed with a slap-single to left. Cortney Smith reached on a walk to load the bases. Pepi then came up with a hard two-run single up the middle, plating Clayton and Sokoloski. Pepi has 17 RBI on the season and is hitting .347 after a slow start to the season.

“[Pepi] started a little slow, but she’s starting to find her groove,” Echo-Hawk said. She’s getting comfortable and sometimes that happens as you go just see more live pitching. As soon as you get a little more comfortable, you tend to be more successful. She’s just stayed the course and be positive. It’s paid off for her.”

The Shockers (11-6) answered with a run in the bottom first after Paige Luellen singled in Kelli Spring. Madison Perrigan then singled to put two runners on with two outs. But Cretz forced Macklin Hitz to fly out in foul territory as Taylor Sargent recorded the out.

After three scoreless frames and solid pitching from both sides, Sokoloski led off the fifth inning with a single to center as an error by the centerfielder advanced the speedster to third base. Smith then reached on an error and took second base in the process. Pepi grounded out, but it paved the way for Sokoloski to cross the dish and Smith to third.

Freshman Mallorie Cross, with two outs, followed with a single to right that plated Smith to give the Orange and Blue a comfortable 4-1 lead. Cross is hitting .355 with three RBI in her young career.

The following frame, Pepi recorded another pair of RBI on a single to right field that scored Ariel Blair and Clayton to put the Miners up 6-1.

The Shockers would load the bases in the bottom seventh with two outs, but Harrawood, who’s been clutch as of late, sealed the victory with the lone strikeout of the day.

Up Next

UTEP will hit the road again as it will take on New Mexico in a doubleheader on March 8 starting at 2 p.m. in Albuquerque. The Miners will open Conference USA action at North Texas on March 11. The Orange and Blue will then play in El Paso for the first time this season as it will start a string of five home dates (eight games). UTEP will host Middle Tennessee (March 18-19), Southern Miss (March 25-26) and rival NM State in a two-game set (March 28).

UTEP Softball Drops a Pair on Saturday

LUBBOCK, Texas – Cortney Smith connected on two more home runs and Kaitlin Ryder hit her first long ball of 2017, but it wasn’t enough as UTEP fell, 7-5, to Wichita State in the early game and Texas Tech, 12-4 [6], in the late game on a windy Saturday at Rocky Johnson Field.

The Miners (3-14) recorded 20 hits (.370 avg.) on the day, while Smith and Ryder each tallied three RBI. The Orange and Blue also registered eight extra base hits as Kiki Pepi, Pamala Baber, Courtney Clayton and Smith each had doubles and Ryder raced out a triple.

UTEP’s rally against Wichita State fell short. After the Shockers took a 7-0 lead, the Miners answered with five runs of their own. Texas Tech took a 9-1 lead, but the Miners showed some fight to get within five runs. But UTEP pitchers struggled, walking nine batters on the day and only striking out one.

UTEP 5, Wichita State 7

The Shockers took a commanding 7-0 lead after a two-run top fourth inning. The Miners, however, made a contest into it as Smith crushed her fifth dinger on the season on a 0-1 pitch over left in the bottom fourth and Kaitlin Ryder connected on her first long ball of the season, a two-run shot over left center in the sixth inning to make the score 7-3.

To keep momentum going, Mallorie Cross was hit by a pitch and Pamala Baber came up with a single to center, setting up Bryanna Molina in a pinch-hit situation. Molina was patient at the plate to draw a 3-1 count, but Baber was picked off at first to end the sixth.

Wichita State would get a pair of runners on in the top seventh on a double by Kennedy Long and Katie Malone being hit by a pitch. But Taylor Grohmann threw a solid 3.0 frames, while she forced a pop out to second, a fly out to left and a fly out to center to keep the score within four runs.

In the bottom seventh, Taylor Sargent led off with a single to center and Clayton connected on a one-out single to right. After the Shockers recorded another out, Smith came up with an RBI double to deep center that plated Sargent.

Clayton made it to third base on Smith’s knock and would eventually cross the dish on a wild pitch to make the score 7-5; Smith advanced to third. Pepi followed with a walk on a 3-1 pitch to put runners at the corners, while Brianna Red was inserted as a pinch runner for Pepi. But Ryder struck swinging out to end the contest on a 2-2 pitch.

The Miners recorded 10 hits, in which six were tallied in the last two innings. Smith finished 2-for-4 and Pepi went 2-for-3 with a run scored. Freshman Macey Brown made her first collegiate start, registering three putouts at first base.

UTEP 4, Texas Tech 12 [6]

The Red Raiders scored six runs in the first inning and another three in the third inning to take a 9-1 lead. Clayton used her first double of 2017 to plate Baber in the top third for the Miners’ first run of the contest. Baber led off the third with her second double of the season.

UTEP would cut the deficit to 9-4 in the fourth after Smith crushed her sixth homer of the season over left center, Ryder tripled in Pepi and Cross singled in Ryder. Cross recorded her second career RBI. The Miners tried to keep the rally going, as Baber reached on a fielder’s choice (Cross was thrown out at second), Taylor Sargent singled, advanced to second, but Baber was thrown out at third for the second out.

Transfer sophomore Brianna Red recorded her first hit in a UTEP uniform, advancing Sargent to third. But Clayton flied out to the catcher in the foul territory to end the top fourth.

The Red Raiders would score two more in the home fourth and Kassidy Scott hit a walk-off solo home run to run rule the Miners in six frames.

UTEP tallied 10 more hits, as Smith led the way on a 2-for-3 effort.

Up Next

UTEP will conclude the Texas Tech Invitational against Wichita State on Sunday morning with first pitch scheduled at 10:30 a.m. CT.

Texas Tech Downs UTEP, 8-0, in Five Frames

LUBBOCK, Texas – Texas Tech scored six runs in the fifth inning to run-rule UTEP, 8-0, on a cold and windy Friday afternoon at Rocky Johnson Field.

The Miners (3-12) tallied only two hits, a double by Cortney Smith in the first inning and a single by Mallorie Cross in the fifth. The Red Raiders (9-7) registered eight hits, as Susan Welborn, after coming off an injury, used her first at bat of 2017 to hit a solo home run in the second inning for the game’s first run.

Erika Harrawood (1-3) started the contest, throwing 4.0 frames and tallying three strikeouts. After allowing Welborn’s homer, Harrawood would strikeout the next three batters to get out of the second inning.

Kierra Miles knocked in Raina O’Neal in the third, giving the Red Raiders a 2-0 edge. It was after a scoreless fourth when the wheels came off for the Miners. Texas Tech scored six runs on two hits and three errors committed by the UTEP defense to claim the victory.

Kassidy Scott (5-4) earned the win as she threw 5.0 innings on 51 pitches. Scott didn’t walk anyone nor tally a strikeout in the solid outing.

Up Next

UTEP will continue the Jeannine McHaney Memorial Classic on Saturday as it takes on Wichita State (10:30 a.m. CT) and Texas Tech again (3:30 p.m.).

H-P Sports In Depth: UTEP Softball to Play Four Games in Lubbock

After its big win at NM State on Wednesday night, the UTEP softball team will compete at the Jeannine McHaney Memorial Classic hosted by Texas Tech March 3-5.

The Miners will open against Texas Tech on Friday (4 p.m. CT). The weekend will continue with a pair of contests on Saturday, the firstagainst Wichita State (10:30 a.m. CT) and anther contest against the Red Raiders (3:30 p.m.). The Classic will conclude against the Shockers on Sunday (10:30 a.m.).

The Miners (3-11) defeated the Aggies, 5-3, on Wednesday night behind a four-RBI effort from Kiki Pepi. The senior infielder blasted a two-run, line drive home run and came up with a liner up the middle that scored two runs.

Starting pitcher Devyn Cretz tallied five Ks in 5.1 innings, while gaining her second win of the season. Erika Harrawood finished the game, throwing 1.2 frames and striking out the last batter to secure the triumph over the Aggies.

MORE ON UTEP’S VICTORY

The Miners’ 5-3 win over the Aggies was just the third overall road win in the rivalry, and the first triumph at NM State Softball Complex since Feb. 15, 2010 – a 22-5 (5) victory. The victory against the I-10 rival is the second for fourth-year head coach Tobin Echo-Hawk. Her 2014 squad defeated NM State, 5-1, on March 14at the Helen of Troy Softball Complex.

The two programs will meet again on March 28, this time a doubleheader starting at 5 p.m. in the Sun City.

ALL-TIME SERIES VS. TEXAS TECH

The programs have spits their 10 games, as the Miners have won their last two games against the Red Raiders. UTEP swept Texas Tech on March 11 in El Paso. The Orange and Blue claimed a 5-3 victory in game one, while winning game two 9-7. Kiki Pepi went hit a home run on a 1-for-2 performance in game one.

Kaitlin Fifield and Taylor Grohmann combined for 7.0 innings and two strikeouts. Grohmann started the contest, throwing 4.0 frames and Fifield earned the victory. Pepi added two more RBI in the game.

SCOUTING TEXAS TECH

The Red Raiders have had a pretty split preseason so far, leaving their most recent trip in Tuscaloosa, Ala. with an overall 8-7 record. The Red Raiders competed at the Easton Bama Bash, tallying two wins in five games.

Texas Tech took two games from Garner-Webb, 6-5 and 4-0. Although the team has a total of a .227 batting average, Raina O’Neal has tallied five home runs and 11 RBI. Kassidy Scott is leading the pitching staff with a 2.38 ERA, 21 strikeouts and four wins on the season so far.

ALL-TIME SERIES VS. WICHITA STATE

The programs have split their only two contests. UTEP defeated Wichita State, 2-0, on Feb. 21, 2010 at the QTI Getterman Classic in Waco, Texas, while the Shockers claimed an 11-0 victory on March 4, 2011 at the North Texas Courtyard Classic in Denton, Texas.

SCOUTING WICHITA STATE

The Shockers have kicked off their 2017 season with a 9-3 record, only falling short to no. 20 Arizona State, 6-4, South Dakota, 3-2 and most recently no. 9 Oklahoma, 7-3. They are currently hitting a solid .345 as a team with Kelli Spring being consistent at the plate recording a .462 average, 18 hits and six RBI.

Laurie Derrico and Macklin Hitz each have hit four home runs, while Hitz leads the team in RBI (14). Paige Luellen ranks second with 11 RBI. The Shockers defense has also been very strong, starting with their two pitchers. Between them they have totaled a 1.87 ERA with Katie Malone tallying eight wins and 49 strike outs.

KIKI’S BAT IS LIT

Entering the Riverside Classic, Kiki Pepi was struggling at the plate, hitting .136 (3-22) with a pair of RBI in nine games. Since then, Pepi’s bat has been smoking as she’s hitting .500 (8-16) with a home run, 10 RBI, six runs and three walks during her last five games. She’s upped her average to .289 and currently leads the team with 12 RBI.

HARRWOOD’S FIRST SAVE

Erika Harrawood threw 1.2 innings and struck out the last hitter to secure UTEP’s 5-3 victory at NM State on Wednesday night. She also earned her first career victory on Feb. 24 against Utah State in Riverside, Calif. She’s thrown a staff-high 25.0 innings and has a 4.48 ERA. The El Paso native has 17 Ks and has made seven appearances.

STRIKEOUT QUEEN

Devyn Cretz tallied five more strikeouts at NM State on Wednesday night. The redshirt freshman leads the staff with 24 Ks in 23.0 innings. Cretz also leads the team with a 4.26 ERA. In her last three appearances, which includes a pair of starts, Cretz’s ERA is 2.15 and she’s fanned 17 batters in 13.0 innings.

CROSS’S SOLID START

Mallorie Cross has been off to a good start to begin her career. The freshman has played in 12 games, starting eight and is hitting .350 (7-20) with an RBI and a double. She’s made multiple starts behind the plate, tallying 16 putouts and three assists. One of those assists came at NM State when she threw a runner out trying to steal second.

MORENO THE BALL MAGNET

Hope Moreno was hit by another pitch at NM State in a pinch-hit effort in the fourth inning. It’s her fourth time being hit by a pitch, while it was probably the biggest HBP this season. She stepped into the batter’s box with bases loaded and drew the hit on the first pitch. The junior has now been hit 22 times in her career. She ranks fourth in program history behind Chelsea Troupe (24), Ashley Ellis (26) and Amber Bennett (27).

UTEP defeats NM State 5-3; Miners End 7-Game Skid Against Aggies

LAS CRUCES, N.M. – Kiki Pepi produced four RBI on a pair of hits, Devyn Cretz struck out five batters and Erika Harrawood earned her first career save as UTEP took down NM State, 5-3, on Wednesday night at the NM State Softball Complex.

The Miners (3-11) earned their first victory against the Aggies (4-10) in Las Cruces since winning 22-5 (5) on Feb. 15, 2010. It’s also the third overall win down the road during the rivalry. UTEP ended a seven-game losing streak to NM State as the Miners last defeated the Aggies March 14, 2014, a 5-1 win in El Paso.

“I can’t think of a better win that we’ve had so far,” fourth-year head coach Tobin Echo-Hawk said. “(NM State) has had our number for the last couple years and to beat a good team like them on their field, it’s just a special moment for all our kids.”

With UTEP up 5-0, NM State cut the lead to 5-3 in the sixth inning on a pair of home runs – a solo shot by Kennedy Johnson and a two-run home run by Victoria Castro. Harrawood was inserted after the Aggies cut the lead to two runs and threw a solid 1.2 innings, while striking out Johnson to secure the victory.

“(Harrawood) came in and sometimes it’s hard to come in when it’s a close game and the other team in inching back in,” Echo-Hawk said. “But she did a great job shutting the door on them and really pitched steady during those two innings to get outs for us. She’s grown the past few months and it’s really fun to watch her.”

The Miners took a 1-0 advantage in the fourth inning when Hope Moreno was inserted as a pinch hitter for Ariel Blair with bases loaded. Moreno drew her fourth hit by pitch of the season to earn an RBI the hard way. She’s now been hit 22 times in her career to ranks fourth on the school’s all-time list.

In the fifth, Pepi exploded on a line drive two-run home run on a 1-0 pitch over left field, giving the Miners a 3-0 lead. Cortney Smith was on base as she drilled a double down the left field line previously.

“That home run was a shot,” Echo-hawk said. “With (Pepi) being a senior, being one of the last times that she gets to play them and knowing that we’ve struggled against (NM State), I think it was a big moment for her overall. It was gratifying.”

Pepi came up big again in the sixth with a hard liner up the middle that plated Blair and Courtney Clayton. Blair had reached on a fielder’s choice, while Clayton used her second hit of the game to reach first. Blair and Clayton would end up advancing on a wild pitch.

Clayton recorded her fifth multi-hit game of the season and 47th during her career.

Cretz (2-3) won her second career game after she hurled 5.1 innings. Mallorie Cross notched her second multi-hit game (2-for-4), while Kaitlin Ryder registered her second multi-hit game (2-for-3) this season since connecting on two knocks Feb. 24 against Utah State.

UTEP didn’t commit any errors, its fifth game without any miscues.

“Everything we talked about with (our players) on what to expect from (NM State) and their offense, our defense did a good job adjusting to their hitters and making sure that we were getting outs and not making it anything bigger than what it was,” Echo-Hawk said.

The Miners’ 11 hits were the second most this season after tallying 12 knocks against UC Riverside on Feb. 25.

Up Next

UTEP will travel to Lubbock to compete at the Jeannine McHaney Memorial Classic hosted by Texas TechMarch 3-5. The Miners will open against the Red Raiders (8-7) on Friday and will then take on Wichita State (9-3) on Saturday, followed by another contest against Texas Tech. The weekend will conclude against Wichita State.

Softball Battle of I-10: UTEP, NM State to Meet on Wednesday in Las Cruces

The UTEP softball team will renew its rivalry with NM State as the I-10 rivals will clash in a single game on Feb. 28 in Las Cruces.

First pitch is at 6 p.m. at the NMSU Softball Complex.

“It’s always exciting to play our rivals NM State,” fourth-year head coach Tobin Echo-Hawk said. “Like always, they have a good team this year. I’m looking forward to our girls competing.”

Both squads are coming off weekends in The Golden State as UTEP competed at the Riverside Classic and NM State competed at the Mary Nutter Classic in Cathedral City.

The Wednesday contest will be the first of three meetings in 2017. The Miners and Aggies will resume play against each other on March 28 in a doubleheader at Helen of Troy Softball Complex starting at 5 p.m.

UTEP, following Wednesday’s game, will travel to Lubbock to play at the Jeannine McHaney Memorial Classic hosted by Texas Tech March 3-5. The Miners will take on Texas Tech on March 3 (9:30 a.m. MT) and March 4 (2:30 p.m. MT). The Orange and Blue will take on Wichita State twice, the first contest will be March 4 (9:30 a.m.) and the second will be the final day of the Classic (9:30 a.m.).

LAST WEEK

The Miners (2-11) won their first two contests of the season, starting with a run-rule, 10-2 (5), victory over Siena on Feb. 24 at the Riverside Classic. UTEP followed will an upset win over Utah State, 7-5, the same day. Devyn Cretz chalked up her first career victory after throwing 5.0 innings, allowing three hits, two runs (one earned) and striking out a career-high seven Saints.

In the next contest, Cortney Smith went deep twice (career high) against Utah State.

Against Utah State, senior Erika Harrawood won her first career game, throwing 6.0 frames, walking one and striking out four. UTEP then fell in a heartbreaker to host school UC Riverside, 6-5 (8). Smith came up with a career high three hits and tied her career best with three RBI.

Overall, the Miners’ bats improved as they hit .297 (33-111) and outscored their opponents 23-17. The Orange and Blue also racked up 11 extra base hits (five doubles, two triples, four home runs). The pitching staff improved as well, fashioning a 3.15 ERA (12 earned runs) in 26.2 innings, while striking out 22 hitters.

SCOUTING NM State

Aggies (4-9) have started their pre-season games both at their home field and on the road. NM State has tallied all four wins in Las Cruces. So far, the Aggies have totaled a .288 average with Kelsey Horton leading the pack hitting .452 with 19 hits, three home runs and 11 RBI.

The pitching has been split pretty evenly between freshman Samaria Diaz and sophomore Kayla Green. They both have recorded two wins and a 4.73 ERA between them.

This past weekend, the Aggies competed at the highly competitive Mary Nutter Classic in Cathedral City, Calif. NM State went 0-5 at the weekend Classic, losing to no. 7 LSU (9-0), NC State (7-4), no. 14 Michigan (5-4), Oklahoma State (7-4) and San Diego State (10-2).

ALL-TIME SERIES VS. NM STATE

NM State leads the all-time rivalry 28-10. The Miners have had their struggles against the Aggies as of late. NM State swept UTEP last season, 3-0, while its won the last seven contests. The Miners last defeated the Aggies, 5-1, on March 4, 2014 in El Paso.

In three games last year, Hope Moreno hit .375 (3-8) with a pair of doubles, while Kiki Pepi and Kaitlin Ryder each hit .250 (2-8) and each ran out a double. Pepi recorded two RBI, while Ryder tallied one and scored a run. Courtney Clayton notched one hit in eight at bats, scored a run and notched an RBI. UTEP is 2-18 in Las Cruces all-time. The Miners defeated the Aggies at their home on March 14, 2007 (10-6) and Feb. 15, 2010 (22-5).

The 22 runs scored by UTEP is the most by both teams in any contest during their rivalry.

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