Ole Miss of the SEC jumped out to a big lead after a five-run sixth, but UTEP held its own, scoring three runs in the seventh while the game-tying run came to the plate. But the Rebels (24-18) held off the Miners’ (18-27) rally, winning 8-4 on a brisk and breezy Friday night at the Helen of Troy Softball Complex in front of a rowdy and loud crowd of 451 fans.
UTEP and Ole Miss will conclude the weekend series on Saturday at 4 p.m.
The Miners registered 10 hits, as Kaitlin Ryder finished 3-for-3 with a RBI and run, and Courtney Clayton went 2-for-4 with two runs and a RBI, along with her team-leading fourth triple. Cortney Smith added a 3-for-4 outing, while Kacey Duffield and Taylor Sargent each singled.
Ole Miss got the on the board first during the first when Brittany Finney used a two-out single to go ahead 1-0. The Rebels scored two more runs during the fourth to go up 3-0.
In the fifth, UTEP put a run on the board to get within a pair of runs. Clayton led off the home half with a triple hit to right center. Ryder plated her best friend on a sac-fly hit to left to make the score 3-1.
The Rebels answered with the five runs in the sixth to go up 8-1.
But the Miners showed more resiliency, proving they can hit on SEC pitching.
After Ariana Valles drew a one-out walk and eventually reached second base on a wild pitch. Clayton then drove Valles home with her second hit of the night, a hard single to left center. Ryder then doubled down the right line, advancing Clayton to third base. Duffield made the score 8-3 on a sac-fly hit to right, plating Clayton for her second run of the night.
Sargent followed with a single of her own, brining Ryder across the dish, making the count 8-4. Smith singled for a third time during the evening and Kira McKechnie drew a walk to load the bases with two outs. But Ole Miss pitcher Anna Borgen forced the final batter to ground out to earn her first save of the season.
McKechnie (9-8) made the start in the circle, throwing a complete game and tallying three K’s.
Clayton’s triple was the sixth of her career. She ranks tied for second on the program’s all-time list with teammate Sargent and Sarah Ramirez. Clayton, with her 2-for-4 outing, recorded her 71st multi-hit game, while starting her 201st consecutive game.
Ryder registered her 95th career RBI and upped her average to .331 on the season. Smith, with her three hits, increased her batting average to .301.
UTEP put runners on board, but left 11 stranded to Ole Miss’s four.