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HP Sports In Depth: UTEP to Host Florida Atlantic, Send Out 5 Seniors

The UTEP softball team will host defending Conference USA Champions Florida Atlantic on Senior Weekend (May 6-7).

The Miners (11-34, 5-16 C-USA) and Owls (33-18, 13-8 C-USA) will play a doubleheader on Saturday starting at 3 p.m., whileSunday’s Senior Day contest will start at 1 p.m. at the Helen of Troy Softball Complex.

Seniors Kaitlin Fifield (El Paso), Taylor Grohmann (El Paso), Miranda Gutierrez (Chino Hills, Calif.), Erika Harrawood (El Paso) and Kiki Pepi (San Diego, Calif.) will be honored immediately following Sunday’s contest.

As part of the Senior Day festivities, the fathers of each senior will throw out the first pitch.

SENIOR SENDOFF

Kaitlin Fifield (Chapin High School), Taylor Grohmann (Americas High School) and Erika Harrawood (Franklin High School) all played their high school softball in El Paso and have donned the Orange and Blue colors for four years.

Kiki Pepi joined the program prior to the 2015 season as she transferred from Oregon State, while Miranda Gutierrez was no stranger to the Sun City as she joined the program prior to 2016 from El Paso Community College. Fifield ranks tied no. 3 in program history in wins (24), while ranking high in multiple pitching categories in the school’s record books.

Harrawood, who came into her senior season winless and recently tallied a career-high seven strikeouts at UAB, has won a trio of contests and notched a save at rival NM State in 2017. Grohmann has won eight games in her career which included a 5-3 mark in 2016. Pepi provided a big bat for the Miners during her three seasons and is one RBI short of joining the 100-RBI club.

Gutierrez didn’t see much playing time in her two seasons, but she was one of the vocal leaders in the dugout while being a tremendous teammate along the way.

ALL-TIME SERIES VERSUS FLORIDA ATLANTIC

Florida Atlantic is 3-0 against UTEP as the two programs met in Boca Raton in 2014. The Owls took the first two contests 7-0 and 2-0 on April 18. The two schools then battled it out the next day in an 11-inning affair with FAU coming out on top 4-3.

Then-sophomore Kawehiokalani Netane connected on a three-run home run in the third that gave her squad a 3-2 lead. The Owls scored a pair in the first, another run in the bottom third to tie the contest and a walk-off single in the 11th frame.

SCOUTING FLORIDA ATLANTIC

The Owls are 33-18 overall and 13-8 in Conference USA action after sweeping UTSA in Boca Raton. The Owls outscored the Roadrunners 10-5 in the series, winning by the scores of 1-0, 3-0, and 6-5. FAU will also play a pair at NM State on May 4 before heading to El Paso. The Owls are hitting .264 as a team and ranks second in C-USA with 103 stolen bases.

The Owls are also one of 12 national programs to hit triple digit numbers in stolen bags. Emily Lochten has been locked in as she ranks fifth in C-USA in hitting (.406), while leading the way in home runs (17), slugging (.855) and on-base percentage (.543). She ranks seventh in RBI (37) and is tied for the league lead with 48 runs. Lochten ranks no. 8 in hits (56), fourth in stolen bases (34) and second in walks (42).

Delaney Rickey has been productive as she has tallied 28 RBI and has stolen nine bases. Mia Olson (21), Tatum Buckley (18), Alex Miller (18) and Lauren Whitt (10) have each hit the double-digit RBI mark in 2017. Olson has connected on four home runs. Madisyn Palmer leads the team in stolen bases (38), while ranking second in hitting (.318) and runs scored (35).

The FAU pitching staff ranks second in the league in ERA (1.89). Opponents are hitting .253 in 352.1 innings pitched. Buckley (9-6) leads the staff in ERA (1.87) and has struck out 48 batters in 108.1 innings of work with only 18 walks. Amanda Wilson (14-9) leads the team in wins and has fashioned a 1.89 ERA in a team leading 159.2 frames. She’s added a team-high 62 Ks and has walked 45 batters.

LAST WEEK

UTEP fell in all three contests at UAB April 29-30. The Miners lost the first game 3-1 as Courtney Clayton singled in Cortney Smith. In the second game, Erika Harrawood tallied a career-best seven strikeouts in 6.0 innings of work. After five scoreless innings, the Blazers scored three runs in the sixth to pull away late from the Miners in game two.

In the rain-shortened series finale, UAB scored five first-inning runs and claimed a 5-0 victory (5). Brianna Red singled and drew a walk in the contest. Red started all three games during the weekend, producing a .333 average, a walk and sacrifice bunt. Defensively, she recorded three putouts and a pair of assists.

PLAYER SPOTLIGHT FROM LAST WEEK

Cortney Smith hit .667 (4-for-6) during the weekend at UAB. Smith registered a .750 on-base percentage with perfect slugging (1.000). Defensively, the sophomore shortstop tallied three putouts and five assists with no errors. Smith opened the series with a 1-for-2 performance, including a double in the sixth inning in which she crossed the dish.

Smith also walked in the first inning. In game two, Smith went 2-for-3 for her 11th multiple-hit game of 2017. Smith connected on her second double of the day and team-leading ninth of the season. Smith opened the contest with a single. In a shortened game on Sunday due to heavy rainfall, Smith went 1-for-1, while drawing a walk.

Smith is currently leading the Miners in hitting with a .353 average and has the second-most assists (83) on the squad.

K-ZONE

Erika Harrawood registered a career-high seven strikeouts at UAB in game two this past weekend, surpassing her previous high of six Ks at UTSA in 2015. Harrawood threw a solid outing, going 6.0 frames and allowing six hits in a 3-0 loss. Harrawood leads the staff in Ks (46) in 89.2 innings of work.

#TURNUP

UTEP recorded its 28th double play of the season at UAB, ranking first in Conference USA in that department. The Miners rank second in the nation in double plays per game (.62) behind Auburn (.84). The Miners are also tied third nationally with UT Arlington and UC Riverside in double plays (28). Campbell has turned 30 while Auburn leads the way with 43.

FIELDING DOUBLE PLAYS

UTEP has three players ranked in the top 10 in Conference USA in double plays. Taylor Sargent (13) is tied third with Stephani Texeira (FIU), Karlee Jensen (LA Tech), Katie Smith (LA Tech) and Lauren Whitt (FAU). Courtney Clayton (12) is ranked tied no. 8 with Pauline Tufi (LA Tech) and Danii Fernandez (UAB). Cortney Smith (11) is ranked no. 11.

SECOND MOST DOULBE PLAYS

UTEP’s 28 double plays turned in 2017 is already the second most turned in program history. Last season’s squad turned a program-best 30 double plays. In fact, since Tobin Echo-Hawk arrived to UTEP, the Miners have turned 97 doubles plays in 204 games (.48 per game). The 2007 squad turned 21, while 19 double plays were turned during the 2005 season. The previous four seasons (2010-13), 46 double plays were turned.

BAT GIRLS

UTEP is hitting .295 to rank tied third with Charlotte in Conference USA and no. 68 nationally, while it would rank the third best average in program history if the season ended today. UTEP hit .307 in 2016 and .303 in 2007. UTEP’s slugging (.407) ranks sixth, while its hits (357) rank sixth. Marshall leads C-USA in batting (.320), while UTSA leads with 415 hits.

UTEP RANKINGS IN C-USA ONLY GAMES

The Miners rank fourth in batting average (.298) and third in hits (167) in Conference USA games only. UTEP ranks seventh in runs scored (77), while its on-base percentage (.363) and RBI (74) ranks sixth. UTEP ranks fourth in slugging (.389). LA Tech leads the way in runs scored (112) and RBI (105). Marshall and LA Tech are each hitting .302, while UTSA leads with 197 hits.

EXTRA BASE HITS

The Miners rank fourth in Conference USA with 10 triples and tied sixth with 52 doubles. The Miners rank fourth in C-USA and no. 56 nationally with .22 triples per game.

Binghamton leads the nation with .48 triples per game, while Southeast Missouri State and Florida State leads the nation with 21 triples. Marshall, Southern Miss and LA Tech are tied for the lead league with 12 triples. LA Tech leads the way in C-USA with 77 doubles.

5 IN THE TOP 25

UTEP has five players ranked in the top 25 in Conference USA in batting. Cortney Smith (.353) ranks 12th, Kaitlin Ryder (.346) ranks 15th, Taylor Sargent (.344) ranks 16th, Kiki Pepi (.333) ranks 18th, and Courtney Clayton (.313) ranks no. 23. UTEP has the most players in the top 25, while Marshall, Charlotte, North Texas and FIU each have three. Middle Tennessee, Florida Atlantic and UTSA each have two. LA Tech and Southern Miss each have one.

RACKING UP HITS

The Miners have collected 357 hits, ranking seventh in Conference USA. UTEP’s 17 hits at UTSA (April 1) are tied for the most during the Tobin Echo-Hawk era, as 17 hits were recorded against Incarnate Word on Feb. 11, 2016. The 17 knocks are tied for eighth on the all-time list. Last season, the Miners set a single-season record with 451 knocks.

MORE ON THE HIT PARADE

UTEP has recorded 10-plus hit games 79 times during the Tobin Echo-Hawk era. The previous four seasons, the Miners tallied 10-plus hits in 50 contests. Since Echo-Hawk took the helm at UTEP, the Miners are hitting .297 (1,626-5,482), while the previous four years saw a .268 average (1,462-5,462). The Miners have connected on 15-plus hits in 14 different contests from 2014-17 and eight different times from 2010-13. The most hits recorded the last eight seasons were 24 at Brown on March 3, 2012 – tied most in program history.

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