The UTEP softball team pounded out 29 hits, four long balls and scored 22 runs, sweeping Mount St. Mary’s in a doubleheader on Wednesday evening at the Helen of Troy Softball Complex.
The Miners (8-9) took game one from the Mountaineers (0-9), 12-3 in five innings, and game two, 10-2 in five frames.
“Offensively, when you have 29 hits, we couldn’t ask for a better performance,” third-year head coach Tobin Echo-Hawk said. “Hitters one through nine, they did what they’re supposed to. They really had good fundamental hitting. Sometimes we have to tweak a few things, but overall, I think they did really well.”
Courtney Clayton went 4-for-5 with a home run (4), five RBI, a double, a walk, a hit by pitch and scored three runs in the two contests. Taylor Sargent went 4-for-6 with four runs scored, a double and an RBI, while Linda Garcia also finished 4-for-6 with a pair of runs, two doubles and a trio of RBI.
Kawehiokalani Netane found her stroke, as the senior finally tallied her first RBIs of the season on a grand slam (1) during game two.
Danielle Pearson connected on two home runs (3), one each game, with four RBI and a pair of runs scored. Kiki Pepi went 4-for-7 with a run and two RBI. Yvette Ortega got her first start of 2016 during game one, getting a knock and scoring her first collegiate run.
Cortney Smith added a trio of hits, a pair of doubles, three runs and an RBI, while Morgan Rasmason recorded her first two-hit game since her freshman season and scoring a career-high two runs in game one. Kaitlin Ryder added a hit and a run scored.
UTEP 12, Mount St. Mary’s 3 (5)
UTEP hurler Kaitlin Fifield (2-4) earned the victory, pitching 3.0 innings and striking out three. Danielle Pearson pitched two perfect innings, while striking out one.
The Mountaineers jumped on the Miners early, scoring three runs on five hits in the third inning.
But the Miners’ bats woke up, after only one hit in the first two frames, scoring five runs on six hits in the bottom third. Clayton doubled to right field, plating Ortega and Garcia, to get her squad on the board. Pepi knocked in Rasmason on a bunt single, while Sargent plated Clayton on a ground rule double. Garcia had another at bat in the inning and tallied an RBI on a bases loaded walk.
Pearson connected on her first long ball of the day, a two-run shot, while Clayton tallied another pair of RBI during a seven-run, game-clinching fourth inning.
Clayton tied her career high with four RBI and Sargent tied her career high with a trio of hits in the game one victory.
UTEP 10, Mount St. Mary’s 2 (5)
This time the Miners jumped out on the Mountaineers, scoring six runs, which was highlighted by Netane’s grand slam in the first inning.
In the opening frame, Pepi put the Miners on the board first with a single up the middle, scoring Clayton. Garcia also tallied an RBI, a double up the middle that plated Smith.
Pearson hit her second long ball of the evening, a two-run shot in the second, while Garcia knocked in Netane for the walk-off win in the fifth frame. Garcia set her career high with three hits, while Netane tied her career high with four RBI and Pepi tied her career best with three hits in the contest.
Taylor Grohmann (4-1) earned her team-leading fourth win of 2016, as the junior threw 4.0 innings, walked none and tallied a K. Pearson pitched an inning, while fanning a pair of hitters.
“Pitching-wise, they got themselves into jams, but then got them out of jams,” Echo-Hawk said. “I couldn’t ask for better, they just keep progressing and getting better every game.”
The Mountaineers loaded the bases during the top fifth with no outs, but Pearson kept the remainder of the hitters in check, forcing a fly out to left, and recording two Ks, one looking and one swinging.
“It’s great to get the two wins at home, especially heading into this weekend,” Echo-Hawk said. “We face some pretty tough competition, so it’s nice to get a bit of a high and carry it to a tough weekend.”
UTEP will compete at the Wildcat Invitational hosted by Arizona. The Miners will face Saint Francis (PA) and BYU on March 4, no. 15 Arizona and a third contest against Mount St. Mary’s on Saturday, and will conclude the weekend against no. 10 James Madison on Sunday.