Photo by Ruben. R. Ramirez | UTEP

Miners split Doubleheader with Southern Miss; Return to play on Saturday

UTEP opened up Conference USA play by splitting a doubleheader with Southern Miss on Friday afternoon at Helen of Troy Softball Complex in El Paso.

In the opening game of the day, UTEP (6-12, 1-1 C-USA) rallied back from a 4-run deficit in the first inning thanks to a fourth-inning grand slam off the bat of Kasey Flores that ended up clinching the first win in C-USA play.

After allowing four runs in the first, Mackenzee Collins and Zaylie Calderon combined to shut out the Golden Eagles the rest of the way for a 7-4 final score.

In the second game of the doubleheader, Southern Miss (19-13, 1-1 C-USA) put up crooked numbers in the first, second and fifth innings to defeat the Miners, 10-1, in a shortened five-inning contest.

The series is set to conclude on Saturday with a doubleheader between UTEP and Southern Miss beginning at 11 a.m. MT in El Paso.

Game 1: UTEP 7, Southern Miss 4

UTEP erased an early 4-run deficit in the first game of the day as the Miners scored two in the second, one in the third and then completed the comeback with Kasey Flores’ grand slam in the fourth to beat Southern Miss, 7-4, on Friday.

Collins settled in after give up four runs on as many hits in the first inning, allowing just two hits and no runs for the next three innings. Collins (3-5) picked up the win in the circle, while Calderon came on in the fifth and closed out the game to earn her second save of the season. Calderon did not allow a hit and held Southern Miss scoreless in three innings of work.

The Miners began to chip away at USM’s lead in the second when Flores led off the inning with a double to right-center and later scored on an RBI single by Ilena Santos. Ashlynn Allen also singled in the inning, stole second base and then came home to score on an RBI base knock by Karina Somoza to make it a 4-2 lead for Southern Miss.

In the third, Idalis Mendez reached base on a hit by pitch and later scored on an RBI single by Bryanna Molina to make it a 1-run game.

UTEP completed the comeback in the fourth when Calderon reached on a fielder’s choice and went to third on a double by Pate Cathey. Mendez followed up by earning a walk before Flores launched a grand slam over the centerfield wall to clear the bases and give UTEP a 7-4 lead.

Flores led the Miners at the dish with a 2-for-4 effort with a double, home run and four RBI, while she also scored two runs in the win. Somoza also notched a multi-hit game, going 2-for-3 at the plate with an RBI. Cathey, Molina, Allen, Santos and Anna Sample each had one hit apiece in the 7-4 victory.

Southern Miss entered the series with the lowest ERA in Conference USA, while the seven runs put up by the Miners is the third-most allowed by the Golden Eagles this season.

Game 2: Southern Miss 10, UTEP 1 (5 inn.)

UTEP fell behind early in the second game of the doubleheader and could never recover after Southern Miss plated five runs in the first two innings.

The Miners got one run back in the third after Cathey singled to left, stole second and came around to score on an RBI single to centerfield by Mendez.

That would be all the offense the Miners could muster in the game as Southern Miss added another run in the fourth and then four more runs in the fifth thanks to a pair of long balls.

Southern Miss’ Kaylan Ladner (9-2) picked up the win in the circle after allowing just one run on five hits and striking out three in five innings of work.

Isabella Kelly (2-2) was charged with the loss after allowing five runs – four earned – on seven hits before Collins came on in relief in the second. Collins allowing three runs on three hits in 3.1 innings, while Toni Gonzalez came on in the fifth and gave up two runs – both earned – on three hits in 0.2 innings.

Mendez was 2-for-3 in the game and drove in UTEP’s only run of the game, while Cathey, Molina and Lexi Morales each had one hit in the contest for a total of five hits by the Miner bats.

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