IRVING, Texas – UTEP softball’s Courtney Clayton was honored as the 2016 Conference USA Player of the Year, while also being named All-C-USA first team. Kiki Pepi was also announced to the All-C-USA second team, as voted by the league’s 12 head coaches on the first day of the C-USA Softball Tournament.
“I am very proud of everything that Courtney accomplished this year,” third-year head coach Tobin Echo-Hawk said. “I couldn’t think of a more deserving kid. She has definitely put in the work, so it is so nice to see it pay off.”
Clayton, a sophomore, is having a phenomenal sophomore campaign, ranking top 10 in multiple offensive categories, while also breaking UTEP softball records. Pepi has been productive in her second season with the Miners.
“I’m so excited for Kiki. It’s a well-deserved award,” Echo-Hawk said. “She’s been a rock over at third base. I’m glad she’s getting the recognition she deserves.”
As of May 11, Clayton ranks tied no. 1 in C-USA in doubles (20), no. 2 in hitting (.421 average), second in hits (77), fifth in slugging (.656), eighth in on-base percentage (.443), sixth in runs (44) and second in total bases (120).
Clayton also broke the school’s single-season record in hits and doubles in 2016.
Clayton’s only fanned nine times in 183 at bats (20.3), ranking fourth in conference in toughest to strikeout. Nationally, her batting average ranks no. 49 and her doubles per game (.38 p/g) ranks no. 13. Defensively, Clayton ranks no. 5 in assists (117), while it’s the second-most tallied in a single season in program annals.
In 24 C-USA games, Clayton ranks no. 1 in hits (43), doubles (12) and total bases (64); she ranks no. 2 in hitting (.467), seventh in slugging (.696), sixth in on-base percentage (.484) and tied fourth in runs (21)
The Cornelius, Ore., native was named to the 2015 All-C-USA Freshman team after hitting over .300 with seven home runs and 30 RBI.
Pepi, a junior, ranks tied sixth in RBI (42) and is no. 6 with 13 doubles in C-USA. Her glove has been a vacuum at third base, as she broke the single-season school record with 126 assists in 2016. She ranks fourth on the team in hitting (.324), and is tied second in home runs (seven), while scoring 22 runs with a triple.
In 24 C-USA contests, Pepi ranks tied sixth in RBI (19), tied third in doubles (eight) and eighth in total bases (47). Pepi is hitting .357 with three long balls and 10 runs in league games only.
The San Diego, Calif., native transferred to UTEP from Oregon State prior to the 2015 season, where she hit over .300 with four dingers, 25 RBI, 24 runs and 10 doubles.
Clayton produced a career-high four hits earlier in the season, on a 4-for-4, four RBI performance on Feb. 11. She also tied her career high with four RBI on March 2.
Clayton is the first Miner to earn the prestigious honor since Camilla Carrera was named player of the year in 2012. She also was awarded the honor in 2009.
Pepi established a single-game record by recording nine assists on March 25 at FIU. She also tied her career best with a pair of doubles at Middle Tennessee on April 16.
It’s the second season in a row in which multiple players were named All-C-USA. Kawehiokalani Netane made first team, while Ashely Eldridge was named second team in 2015. In 2012, Carrera and Chelsea Troupe were All-C-USA first team in 2012.
The No. 6 Miners will take on No. 7 FIU in the first round of the C-USA Tournament later today at 2:30 p.m. CT/1:30 MT.