TUCSON – The UTEP softball team (10-26, 4-8 Conference USA) fell to the No. 9 ranked Arizona Wildcats (29-7, 9-0 PAC-12), 17-1  and 5-1, at Hillenbrand Stadium on Wednesday afternoon.
Kacey Duffield registered two RBIs and posted her eighth homer this year. Kira McKechnie threw 6.0 innings and struck out five in the second game of the day.
UTEP fell to No. 9 ranked Arizona 17-1  in the first game of the day at Hillenbrand Stadium.
Bryana Munoz threw 2.1 innings in relief for UTEP. She only surrendered one run to the high-powered Arizona offense with two strikeouts.
Duffield, Pate Cathey, Cortney Smith and Mallorie Cross all recorded hits in the game. Duffield pushed through Lindsey Sokoloski for the Miners’ lone run on the Miner scoreboard.
The Wildcats jumped out on the Miners with three quick runs in the bottom of the first inning.
Cortney Smith and Pate Cathey would both record singles in the second frame with no outs. However, UTEP was unable to plate the base runners.
Arizona showed off it’s bats in the bottom of the second, scoring 13 runs to build up quite the lead of 16-0.
The Miners scored their lone run of the game on an RBI single from Kacey Duffield in the top of the third, her 22nd this season. Mallorie Cross set up the scoring opportunity with a single to lead off the inning.
Ultimately, the Miners were unable to decrease the deficit and fell to the nationally ranked Wildcats.
The Miners battled hard, but fell 5-1 in the final game of the doubleheader.
Kira McKechnie had a solid outing in the circle for UTEP. The senior threw 6.0 innings and registered five strikeouts against the electric Arizona offense.
The Miners pounced on the Wildcats in the first frame. Duffield, with two outs hit a rocket over the centerfield fence. This bomb was her eight on the year and gave UTEP its first lead over a ranked opponent since 2016 (Arizona – May 5, 2016).
UTEP maintained the lead after the first frame. McKechnie struck out the final batter of the inning, and gave the Orange and Blue a chance to add to its lead.
Arizona would answer with two runs in the bottom of the second, taking the lead away from the Miners, 2-1.
The Orange and Blue had a strong opportunity to add runs to the board in the top of the third. Pamala Baber and Ariel Blair both singled to start the inning with no outs. Unfortunately, the Miners were unable to advance them any further and still faced the one run deficit.
UTEP kept the game within one run until the fifth inning when Arizona added three to take a 5-1 lead.
The Miners were unable to cut into the lead, but battled valiantly against the No. 9 ranked Wildcats in the final game of the day.
On deck, the Miners will travel to New Mexico to play the Lobos for a single contest on April 9.
>> Duffield has reached base safely in 33 of the Miners’ 36 games this season
>> First time the Miners have avoided the run rule by a ranked opponent since March 6, 2016 versus James Madison