UTEP’s Kawehiokalani Netane
The UTEP softball team dropped its sixth straight contest after falling 7-6 to New Mexico in game two of a doubleheader. The Lobos (13-8) scored six runs in the first inning of game one, dropping the Miners (9-18), 8-2, on a sunny and breezy Tuesday afternoon at the Helen of Troy Softball Complex.
UTEP 2, New Mexico 8
In the first, Michalass Erickson tallied a two-run single, while Jadec Gray recorded a one-run double to put their squad up 4-0. Kasey Halleen and Shelbie Franc basically put the game away with back-to-back RBI singles, putting New Mexico in front 6-0.
The Miners answered with a pair of runs on an error by the pitcher with Taylor Sargent at the plate. But UTEP left nine runners on base throughout the contest.
Starting pitcher Taylor Grohmann (5-2) got lit up early, allowing eight hits and six runs in an inning. Kaitlin Fifield pitched 5.0 solid innings, but allowed a solo home run, while walking zero.
UTEP tallied nine hits, led by Courtney Clayton (2-for-4) and Kaitlin Ryder (2-for-3). Ariel Blair, Sargent, Kiki Pepi, Kawehiokalani Netane and Jade Rodriguez each recorded knocks.
UTEP 6, New Mexico 7
With New Mexico up 3-1 in the fifth, Rodriguez led off with a single to short, using her speed to reach first base. Blair followed with a bunt single, while Ryder used a sac-bunt to advance the runners over. Clayton would tie the contest with her 10th double of the season to deep center. UTEP then took a 4-3 lead when a passed ball advanced Clayton to third; following with an error plated her.
In the following frame, Erickson tied the ball game with a solo shot over leftfield, her fourth of the season. In the home half, Hope Moreno singled with one out, while advancing to second on a Rodriguez two-out single. Morgan Rasmason went in to pinch run for Moreno, while Cortney Smith was inserted to pinch-hit for Blair at the top of the order. But a fly foul out to the first baseman ended a rally.
Again, the Miners had a tough time putting runners across the dish, as seven were stranded in the game.
New Mexico would score three runs in the seventh to go up 7-4, but UTEP had some fight left. Ryder led off with a single to center, while Clayton tallied her second double of the game and no. 11 on the season. Sargent tacked on a run with a sac-fly to right, plating Ryder. Lindsey Sokoloski got her squad within a run with an RBI single up the middle, scoring Clayton. But a pop out on a 2-2 pitch by Moreno ended the contest.
UTEP tallied 14 hits, led by Moreno’s 3-for-4 night. Netane tallied RBI no. 11 on a single up the middle in the second inning.
UTEP will resume Conference USA action, as it will host LA Tech (15-5, 0-0 C-USA) on March 19 and 20, as the Lady Techsters are opening league play in El Paso. Saturday’s doubleheader will start at 1 p.m., while first pitch for Sunday’s finale is set for noon. UTEP swept LA Tech in 2014 in Ruston, but it returned the favor, pulling out the brooms in Louisiana last season. LA Tech is currently 2-1 on the road this season, winning at Southeastern Louisiana (4-1) and at Southern (11-3), but falling at LSU, 9-6, on Tuesday night.