Photo courtesy UTEP Athletics
BOCA RATON, Fla. – Florida Atlantic (15-13, 3-0 C-USA) pulled away late to down UTEP (10-16, 0-3 Conference USA) 8-0  on Tuesday afternoon at FAU Softball Stadium.
The Owls went up 2-0 early in the first inning when Tatum Buckley drove in two runs on a one-out double hit to left center. Samantha Lageyre singled and Emily Lochten drew a walk to set up Buckley’s RBI opportunity.
Lageyre gave the Owls a 3-0 lead in the fourth.
FAU starting pitcher kept UTEP’s bats silent until the fifth inning when pinch-hitter Lindsey Sokoloski and Pamala Baber used back-to-back singles to put runners on board with the score 3-0. Ilena Santos then advanced her teammates with a sac-bunt to put the runners in scoring position, but the Miners couldn’t sustain more offense to put runs on the board.
Kelsey Morrison put the game away with a three-run home run during the fifth and Lochten drove in the game-winning runs on a single.
***Monday Night’s Games:
Courtney Clayton hit a solo home run in the first inning and Julia Wright allowed no hits through 5.2 innings, but Florida Atlantic rallied to get by UTEP, 2-1, in game one. The Owls (14-13, 2-0 Conference USA) then used a five-run third to defeat the Miners (10-15, 0-2 C-USA), 6-0, in the second game in the C-USA opener at FAU Softball Stadium on Monday night.
UTEP 1, FAU 2
Clayton gave her squad an early 1-0 lead when she connected on a first-pitch toss and sent a high-arching shot over left. It was her fourth dinger of the season and her 22nd of her career to rank tied sixth with Amber Bennett on the program’s all-time list. Clayton is also two RBI from reaching 100 in her career.
Wright pitched a solid outing, as the junior didn’t allow a hit through 5.2 innings. Wright retired the first nine batters before leadoff hitter Madison Palmer drew a walk to leadoff the fourth inning. But Wright would retire the next three Owls to keep the score 1-0.
FAU’s rally started when Emily Lochten doubled with two outs in the sixth inning after Wright had retired Palmer and Samantha Lageyre. But Lochten’s double came by way of high winds whipping through the ball park as she hit what looked like was going to deep centerfield. But the winds pulled the ball back into shallow territory, making it difficult of Ariel Blair to make the diving out.
The inning then continued when Tatum Buckley and Mia Olson drew back-to-back walks to load the bases. The Owls tied the score 1-1 when Alex Miller drove Lochten home with a single hit to left. However, the pinch runner Sami Williams at third was thrown out at home to end the inning.
After a scoreless seventh, Buckley doubled with two outs and Olson singled to put runners at the corners in the eighth. Miller then came up with a walk-off single to down the Miners.
UTEP tallied four hits as Kacey Duffield (seventh inning), Arianna Valles (second) and Lindsey Sokoloski (eighth) each connected on knocks. For Duffield, it was her fourth double of the season.
Wright (2-6) threw 7.2 innings with six hits allowed, struck out six and walked five in a losing effort.
UTEP 0, FAU 6
Florida Atlantic scored five runs during the third inning to put UTEP away early. The Owls drew five walks during the frame.
The Miners produced six hits to FAU’s four. Cortney Smith went 2-for-3 for her first multi-hit game since Feb. 23. Ariel Blair, Clayton, Ryder and Duffield tallied the other hits. For Clayton, it was her 43rd career double and 209th career hit.
Starting pitcher Kira McKechnie (6-5) struck out four in 2.1 innings, while Allie Johnson threw 2.2 frames, allowing only one hit and fanning a pair and Devyn Cretz recorded three K’s in 1.0 inning of work.
UTEP will host its first Conference USA series March 17-18, as UAB (8-18-1, 1-1-1)