Photo courtesy UTEP Athletics

Linda Garcia wins C-USA Player of the Week; Team prepares for C-USA Tourney in Birmingham

UTEP softball’s Linda Garcia won Conference USA Player of the Week, the league announced Monday afternoon.

“I couldn’t be more excited for Linda.” UTEP Head Coach Tobin Echo-Hawk said. “She’s worked hard all year offensively and it couldn’t have happened at a better time.”

Garcia batted .714 during senior weekend with five hits and four RBIs. During Saturday’s doubleheader the senior went a perfect 4-4 with a huge home run that sparked a UTEP comeback in game one of the series.

The catcher also threw out two runners stealing in game three, placing her at second in conference in the category. She has caught 40 runners in her career attempting to steal, which is third in the UTEP record books.

Garcia is the fourth different player to win a conference weekly honor this season, joining Kasey Flores, Kacey Duffield and Julia Wright. Four different players earning the honor is the most in Miner history for a single season.

Last season, Kaitlyn Ryder earned C-USA Player of the Week honors on senior weekend. Garcia makes it back-to-back years that the league has honored a Miner on the final weekend of the regular season.

Now the UTEP softball team (17-32, 10-14 Conference USA) prepares for their fifth trip to the C-USA Tournament in program history and first since the 2016 campaign.

The seventh-seed Miners will take on sixth-seed and defending conference champions Middle Tennessee in the first round of the 2019 Air Force Reserve Softball Championship on Wednesday (12:30 p.m. MT) at Mary Bowers Field (UAB).

The Orange and Blue will face single elimination on day one of the tournament. With a victory against Middle Tennessee, UTEP will advance to play WKU later that day at 5:30 p.m. MT.

If the Miners were to advance past day one then the tournament becomes double elimination, and a matchup versus LA Tech on Thursday (2:30 p.m. MT) would be on the docket.

UTEP could see a variety of different scenarios once Friday comes around. Either two games could be played or just one depending on if the Miners were to win or lose at that stage in the tournament.

UTEP will take on defending C-USA tournament champions Middle Tennessee (11-13, C-USA) in the first round on Wednesday at 12:30 p.m. MT. The Miners are 10-5 all-time against the Blue Raiders.

Middle Tennessee finished sixth in the C-USA standings and are led by junior-slugger Lexi Cushing, who has 15 homers on the year. Pitching wise, the Raiders are relying on Corrina Dodd. Dodd leads the team in wins (12) and opponent batting average (.256). Middle Tennessee is 2-9 in its last 11 conference contests, but are coming off of a series victory at North Texas.

If the Miners are able to defeat the reigning C-USA tourney champions then they will face three-seed WKU (18-6, C-USA) at 5:30 p.m. MT on Wednesday. If UTEP wins that game and advances to day two, then the tournament becomes double elimination format, and a matchup against LA Tech will be awaiting the Orange and Blue on Thursday (2:30 p.m. MT).

The championship will be on Saturday at 10 a.m. MT.

All games will be streamed on the ESPN+ network until the championship game, which will be televised on the CBS Sports Network.

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