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Softball Battle of I-10: UTEP, NM State to Meet on Wednesday in Las Cruces

The UTEP softball team will renew its rivalry with NM State as the I-10 rivals will clash in a single game on Feb. 28 in Las Cruces.

First pitch is at 6 p.m. at the NMSU Softball Complex.

“It’s always exciting to play our rivals NM State,” fourth-year head coach Tobin Echo-Hawk said. “Like always, they have a good team this year. I’m looking forward to our girls competing.”

Both squads are coming off weekends in The Golden State as UTEP competed at the Riverside Classic and NM State competed at the Mary Nutter Classic in Cathedral City.

The Wednesday contest will be the first of three meetings in 2017. The Miners and Aggies will resume play against each other on March 28 in a doubleheader at Helen of Troy Softball Complex starting at 5 p.m.

UTEP, following Wednesday’s game, will travel to Lubbock to play at the Jeannine McHaney Memorial Classic hosted by Texas Tech March 3-5. The Miners will take on Texas Tech on March 3 (9:30 a.m. MT) and March 4 (2:30 p.m. MT). The Orange and Blue will take on Wichita State twice, the first contest will be March 4 (9:30 a.m.) and the second will be the final day of the Classic (9:30 a.m.).

LAST WEEK

The Miners (2-11) won their first two contests of the season, starting with a run-rule, 10-2 (5), victory over Siena on Feb. 24 at the Riverside Classic. UTEP followed will an upset win over Utah State, 7-5, the same day. Devyn Cretz chalked up her first career victory after throwing 5.0 innings, allowing three hits, two runs (one earned) and striking out a career-high seven Saints.

In the next contest, Cortney Smith went deep twice (career high) against Utah State.

Against Utah State, senior Erika Harrawood won her first career game, throwing 6.0 frames, walking one and striking out four. UTEP then fell in a heartbreaker to host school UC Riverside, 6-5 (8). Smith came up with a career high three hits and tied her career best with three RBI.

Overall, the Miners’ bats improved as they hit .297 (33-111) and outscored their opponents 23-17. The Orange and Blue also racked up 11 extra base hits (five doubles, two triples, four home runs). The pitching staff improved as well, fashioning a 3.15 ERA (12 earned runs) in 26.2 innings, while striking out 22 hitters.

SCOUTING NM State

Aggies (4-9) have started their pre-season games both at their home field and on the road. NM State has tallied all four wins in Las Cruces. So far, the Aggies have totaled a .288 average with Kelsey Horton leading the pack hitting .452 with 19 hits, three home runs and 11 RBI.

The pitching has been split pretty evenly between freshman Samaria Diaz and sophomore Kayla Green. They both have recorded two wins and a 4.73 ERA between them.

This past weekend, the Aggies competed at the highly competitive Mary Nutter Classic in Cathedral City, Calif. NM State went 0-5 at the weekend Classic, losing to no. 7 LSU (9-0), NC State (7-4), no. 14 Michigan (5-4), Oklahoma State (7-4) and San Diego State (10-2).

ALL-TIME SERIES VS. NM STATE

NM State leads the all-time rivalry 28-10. The Miners have had their struggles against the Aggies as of late. NM State swept UTEP last season, 3-0, while its won the last seven contests. The Miners last defeated the Aggies, 5-1, on March 4, 2014 in El Paso.

In three games last year, Hope Moreno hit .375 (3-8) with a pair of doubles, while Kiki Pepi and Kaitlin Ryder each hit .250 (2-8) and each ran out a double. Pepi recorded two RBI, while Ryder tallied one and scored a run. Courtney Clayton notched one hit in eight at bats, scored a run and notched an RBI. UTEP is 2-18 in Las Cruces all-time. The Miners defeated the Aggies at their home on March 14, 2007 (10-6) and Feb. 15, 2010 (22-5).

The 22 runs scored by UTEP is the most by both teams in any contest during their rivalry.

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