Danielle Pearson pitched her second-career shutout and Courtney Clayton tallied three RBI, as the UTEP softball team took down LA Tech, 8-0 (five innings) to complete the weekend sweep at the Helen of Troy Softball Complex.
The Miners (12-18, 3-3 Conference USA) evened their league record, while the Lady Techsters (16-9, 0-3 C-USA) have lost five of their last seven contests.
“Maybe it was just yesterday having the success they had, but the moment the team walked out of the doors there was just a different feel,” third-year head coach Tobin Echo-Hawk said. “They were super-confident and had high energy.”
And specking of confidence, of the eight runs, seven of them were scored with two outs.
UTEP got on the board first with a three-run third inning, highlighted by a Clayton one-run single on a 1-1 pitch up the middle that plated Kawehiokalani Netane.
Netane led off the inning by reaching on an error by the shortstop and Linda Garcia reached on fielder’s choice, in which Netane was called safe at second.
Cortney Smith used a sac-bunt to advance the runners, setting up Clayton’s RBI and Garcia moving to third. Clayton advanced to second on a Kaitlin Ryder groundout, but Kiki Pepi made sure here teammates would cross the dish.
Pepi recorded RBI no. 27 and 28 as she singled on a hard shot to the shortstop behind the second base bag.
The run rule was put into effect in the fourth frame with five more runs scored. Clayton and Taylor Sargent each tallied a pair of RBI and Ryder recorded another heading to the top fifth.
Pearson (4-5) kept the potent offense of the Lady Techsters in check, while getting out of a bases loaded jam with slugger Pauline Tufi in the batters box. Pearson, on a 2-2 count and four foul balls connected on, forced Tufi to groundout to the circle. Pearson bobbled the ball a bit, but was able to make the easy out and complete the victory.
Pearson pitched her second consecutive complete game and eighth of the season. She went 5.0 innings, allowed only five hits and struck
out a pair of batters. Pearson entered her senior season with no shutouts, but has two after Sunday’s win, while recording her first goose egg at UNLV, during a 6-0 win on Feb. 19.
Pearson is two victories away from tying Kelly Curran (24 wins) on the all-time win’s list in program history.
Pearson and Fifield combined for three wins and a trio of complete games this weekend.
“Having three complete games and D.P. (Pearson) shutting down an offense like LA Tech is great,” Echo-Hawk said. “If you look at their numbers, LA Tech has really great numbers and we gave up only one home run (on the weekend), especially on the field like ours where the ball travels. It’s a big thing and (Pearson and Fifield) did a great job especially against their best hitters.”
Clayton and Sargent each went 2-for-3, while Clayton crossed the dish two times. The Miners connected on eight knocks during the day.
UTEP improved to 28-17 in the Sun City since Echo-Hawk took the program over in 2014, while fashioning a 17-10 record at home in conference games. The weekend sweep of LA Tech was also the fourth conference series sweep at home in Echo-Hawk’s three seasons.
The Miners swept Middle Tennessee a pair of times, once in 2014 and last season. The brooms were also pulled out against FIU in 2015.
It’s also the second sweep of LA Tech in three seasons, as UTEP took a three-game series in Ruston in 2014.
UTEP’s 12 victories this season are two away from tying last season’s 14 wins.
UTEP will host No. 15 Missouri in a doubleheader starting at noon on Monday. The Miners will then travel to Miami to take on FIU on March 25-26.
Check out Andres Acosta’s coverage of the game via Story in Six Pics