UAB scored three runs in the seventh, as UTEP suffered a heartbreaking 4-2 loss on a windy Sundayafternoon at the Helen of Troy Softball Complex.
The Miners fought and battled after a pair of tough losses on Saturday, as they tied the contest with a freshman Cortney Smith solo home run and took a 2-1 lead after a Hope Moreno RBI single. Smith’s jack in the fifth was also UTEP’s first hit on the day.
But the windy conditions proved to be a factor, as the Blazers’ Mary Warren took advantage and gave her squad a 3-2 lead.
The Blazers (22-24, 12-6 Conference USA) are two games up on the Miners (19-28, 10-8 C-USA) after the weekend sweep. Even after the series loss, UTEP is still one of four C-USA programs with a winning conference record and is in a second-place tie with Southern Miss (10-8 C-USA) in the West Division. No. 22 Florida Atlantic (16-2 C-USA) won the East Division after its weekend sweep over Charlotte.
With the score 1-0 after pinch runner Lizzie Ryan scored a run in the fourth, Smith hit her second home run of the weekend, a solo shot on a 1-2 pitch over center field in the fifth inning to tie the game.
The Miners took a 2-1 advantage in the sixth that was fueled by a Taylor Sargent leadoff single to right. Danielle Pearson advanced Sargent on a sac-bunt that helped set up the lead. Moreno, after struggling at the plate in a few at bats during the weekend, connected on a single to shallow right that dropped between a pair of UAB defenders, plating Sargent.
Starting hurler Kaitlin Fifield (8-15) managed to get the first out to open the seventh. But Sara Beth Williamson drew a walk that set up the next batter. Warren took a 1-0 pitch and sent it high in the air where the wind caught it and carried it over to the scoreboard. It looked as if right fielder Sargent would make the out, but realized the ball would keep going before she made contact with the fence.
Following that, Waters got a hold of a 2-1 pitch for an RBI single to left that plated Kelly Britt, who reached on a two-out single.
Courtney Clayton gave the Miner faithful hope, as she connected on a hard hit double to deep center with one out. But Cara Goodwin (12-7) would strikeout the next two hitters to claim her second win of the weekend.
The Miners tallied six hits, led by Clayton’s 2-for-4 day and 18th double of the season – second most during a single season in program history. Clayton is one double away from tying the school record held by Camilla Carrera (19 in 2009).
Fifield threw a complete game, going 7.0 frames with three earned runs. The El Paso native did a solid job as she got out of a pair of bases loaded jams in the fourth and fifth innings.
UTEP also turned another double play, its 23rd of the season. Entering the weekend with 20 double plays turned, the Miners set the school standard on Saturday, turning a pair of double plays and surpassing the old record of 21.
UTEP will play its final home conference series of 2016, as North Texas (3-15 C-USA) will make its way to the Sun City onApril 30 and May 1. Seniors Kawehiokalani Netane, Pearson, Morgan Rasmason and Jade Rodriguez will be honored following Sunday’s noon contest on ‘Senior Day’. The Miners will end the 2016 regular season at Southern Miss on May 7-8.
UTEP is looking to advance to the C-USA Tournament for the first time since the 2010 season. The postseason tourney is set for May 11-14 in Denton (North Texas). The top three teams from each division will advance, including two wild card teams from either division.