Gallery+Story: Miners take finale to split series with Southern Miss

UTEP finished up the first weekend of Conference USA play by splitting a doubleheader with Southern Miss on Saturday afternoon to earn a series split at Helen of Troy Softball Complex in El Paso.

UTEP (7-13, 2-2 C-USA) bounced back from a 9-3 loss in the first game on Saturday to eventually win the finale over Southern Miss (20-14, 2-2 C-USA) by a score of 8-5. For the second day in a row, Kasey Flores hit a grand slam that helped propel the Miners to a three-run win over the Golden Eagles in the series finale.

In the first game of the doubleheader, Southern Miss used a 5-run fourth inning to eventually down the Miners, 9-3, to open the day. 

The Miners hit the road next week for a four-game C-USA series at UAB on April 9-11 in Birmingham, Alabama.

Game 1: Southern Miss 9, UTEP 3

UTEP fell behind 2-0 in the second inning and then allowed five runs in the fourth in the opening day of the game, which Southern Miss eventually won, 9-3.

The Miners put up three runs in the bottom half of the fourth thanks to a pair of RBI doubles off the bats of Ilena Santos and Karina Somoza to cut the lead 7-3.

Southern Miss responded by putting up a run in both the fifth and the seventh innings to clinch the win on Saturday afternoon.

Isabella Kelly (2-3) started for the Miners in the circle and was charged with the loss after allowing seven runs – all earned – on 10 hits in 3.1 innings of work. Zaylie Calderon came on in the fourth and allowed two earned runs on three hits while striking out three in 3.0 innings. Victoria Salazar came on in relief with one out in the seventh and induced two fly balls to end the inning.

Pate Cathey was 2-for-3 at the plate with a run scored, while Somoza went 1-for-3 with a double and two RBI. Santos also doubled and drove in a run, while Calderon and Idalis Mendez each had one hit apiece in the loss.

Game 2: UTEP 8, Southern Miss 5

UTEP put up six runs in the first two innings, including a grand slam by Flores, and added solo runs in the fourth and sixth to clinch the series split with an 8-5 win in the finale on Saturday afternoon.

UTEP fell behind in the top of the first inning of game two versus Southern Miss, but the Miners answered with two runs of their own in the bottom of half of the first frame.  The Miners loaded the bases in the second before Flores and Bryanna Molina came through with RBI singles to regain a 2-1 lead.

Southern Miss knotted the game at 2-2 in the second before Flores hit her second grand slam of the weekend in the bottom of the second to extend UTEP’s lead to 6-2 through two innings. The Golden Eagles made it a 6-4 ball game in the fourth on a two-run double, but Flores once again came through with an RBI single later in the fourth to make it a 7-4 lead for the Miners.

The Miners extended their lead to 8-4 in the sixth on an RBI double by Molina, but Southern Miss was not finished. In the seventh, Southern Miss plated a run on an RBI ground-rule double that made it a three-run game. With two outs and the tying run at the plate, Mackenzee Collins entered the game to get a pop fly that stranded two runners and clinched the win for UTEP.

Calderon (2-4) came on in relief and picked up the win for the Miners in the circle after allowing two runs on three hits and striking out two in 2.0 innings of work. Collins (2) started the game and then came on in the seventh to earn her second save of the season.

Collins allowed two runs on three hits in 2.1 innings overall, while Kelly also pitched and allowed one run on four hits in 2.2 innings pitched.

Flores led the Miners at the plate after going a perfect 3-for-3 in the game with a grand slam, a walk and six total RBI. Mendez was also 3-for-4 with two runs scored, while Molina was 2-for-4 with a double and two RBI. Lexi Morales was also perfect at the dish with a 3-for-3 effort and a run scored, while Cathey was 2-for-4 with two runs scored.

For complete coverage of UTEP softball, be sure to follow the Miners on social media at @UTEPSoftball (Twitter), @utepsoftball (Instagram) and on Facebook or click here to visit the official home of UTEP Athletics.

Gallery by Ruben R. Ramirez – El Paso Herald Post