Photo courtesy UTEP Athletics
The UTEP softball team (17-32, 10-14 Conference USA) defeated FIU (26-25, 7-16 C-USA), 11-3 , to clinch the seven seed in the C-USA Tournament and send off the UTEP seniors on a winning note.
“Happy to send the seniors out on a great note. Couldn’t have ended any more perfect, with Kacey (Duffield) with the walk-off for the run-rule. Everybody contributed, and every single senior did something today to help our team win,” Coach Tobin Echo-Hawks said. It’s a true model of who they are as people, and what they mean to this team. Super excited to clinch the seventh seed. It makes our life a little bit easier for when we get there. At the end of the day I am just happy we got this win and gave these seniors a great day.”
Ariana Valles went 3-3 with four RBIs on the day. The sophomore connected on a pair of two-run doubles, the first during a three-run first and the second came during a three-run third frame.
Senior Kacey Duffield singled in the game-winning run, while senior Julia Wright picked up her 11th win of the season and 18th during her two-year career, ranking tied for fifth in program history.
The seniors on Senior Day got big time help from their two stud freshmen Pate Cathey and Kasey Flores to start the game. Cathey smacked her second lead-off dinger of the weekend, and Flores followed up with a double. Flores and Duffield were both brought in by a Valles double, giving the Miners a 3-0 advantage.
The Golden Panthers answered with three runs of their own in the top of the second, knotting senior day up at 3-3.
The Sun City struck again, as a ball hit by Flores fell into the infield due to the third baseman being blinded by the sun in the third. Senior Cortney Smith then reached on an error, and Valles once again came through with a two-run double. The shortstop was brought in after a sacrifice fly from Ilena Santos that gave the Miners its second three run lead of the day, 6-3.
The Miners struck gold in the bottom of the fifth. Valles and Santos both singled and then scored when Garcia smacked a base hit that turned into three bases because off an error. Senior Ariel Blair came up huge with a triple into centerfield, and was eventually brought in by Cathey.
The Miners only needed one run to complete senior day with a run-rule victory. Who better to have at the plate than Duffield with freshman Cathey in scoring position?
The senior hit the ball into right field, and the freshman raced around the bases to score, sending the seniors and rest of the Miners into a frenzy.
>> Clinched seventh seed in C-USA Tournament
> Wright recorded her 11th victory of the season and is now tied for fifth all-time with 18