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UTEP Softball Splits First Day of Vegas Road Trip

Las Vegas, Nv. – The UTEP softball team (2-4, 0-0) split a pair of games to begin play at the Boyd Rebel Classic. An offensive explosion of runs versus Weber State (3-4, 0-0) helped propel the Miners to a 17-5 victory.

The Orange and Blue then fell to Hawaii (6-1 0-0), 12-2, to end the day.

Cortney Smith led the way for the Miners, batting .800 (4-5) with a home run and three RBI. Ilena Santos also hit .667 (4-6) with two RBI, and Kasey Flores posted a .571 (4-7) batting average with the first grand slam of her career.

Game One
The Miners got off to a hot start with RBI singles from Kacey Duffield and Kira McKechnie, and a wild pitch that scored a run to give the early edge to UTEP, 3-0.

The Wildcats would answer scoring two runs in the first and second innings to reclaim the lead, 4-3.

A leadoff double from McKechnie got things going for the Miners in the top of the fourth inning. Ilena Santos would eventually drive in Pamala Baber, who pinch ran for McKechnie. With two runners on base for senior Cortney Smith, she blasted her fourth home run of the season over the right field fence for three runs and a Miner lead, 7-4.

Freshman Nadya Orozco entered the game in relief in the circle in the bottom of the fourth inning. She allowed the first three batters of the inning to reach base, but recovered to get out of the inning with no damage.

The Orange and Blue utilized an epic fifth inning that sealed the victory for the Sun City travelers. A Kasey Flores grand slam, Ariana Valles’s first homer of her career and 10 runs later the Miners saw themselves in the driver seat, 17-4, entering the bottom of the fifth inning. UTEP strung together seven hits that gave their pitching staff more than enough room to breathe.

Orozco closed out the game for the Miners and sealed the victory, 17-5. McKechnie (1-1), who struck out five in 3.0 innings of work, received the victory, as the Miners’ 17 runs are tied for sixth most during a single game. The runs are also tied for most during the Tobin Echo-Hawk era, as UTEP scored 17 runs on Feb. 24, 2018 against Portland State.

Game Two
The Miners fell behind early to Hawaii, 2-0, after the top half of the first inning. UTEP threatened as Cortney Smith and Kacey Duffield both registered two-out singles. The two seniors were left on base, but the early offense was a good sign for the Miners.

Hawaii would add four runs to extend its lead to 6-0, heading to the bottom half second inning.

In the bottom of the second frame, Ilena Santos got on base with a well-hit double. Then senior Linda Garcia hit a bomb into deep center field to cut into Hawaii’s lead, 6-2. It was Garcia’s first home run of the season, and the 12th for UTEP as a team this season.

The Orange and Blue failed to get any more runs across the plate as they fell, 12-2, in five innings.


>> Ariana Valles hit the first home run of her career

>> Cortney Smith and Kasey Flores are both on six game hitting streaks

>> Linda Garcia hit the first homer of her senior season

Up next, UTEP Softball will tackle the second day of the Boyd Rebel Gaming Classic Saturday, against UC Davis (9 a.m. MT) and BYU (11 a.m. MT).

UTEP Softball Adds Two More for 2018 Season

Tobin Echo-Hawk finalized the 2018 roster as the fifth-year UTEP head coach announced the additions of infielders Kacey Duffield and Ilena Santos.

Duffield will have two years of eligibility as she is a transfer from Indian Hills Community College (Ottumwa, Iowa), while Santos will be a freshman entering the new athletic season. Both will be eligible to play during the 2017 fall season.

Duffield, a native of Fairbanks, Alaska, smashed a combined 31 home runs with 126 RBI in two years at Indian Hills CC. In the circle during her career, Duffield posted a 16-4 record with a 2.81 ERA in 94.2 innings hurled. The Warriors went 74-32 during her two years, including a trip to the 2016 NJCAA Division I softball national tournament.

In 2016, Duffield connected on 19 long balls (ranked t-14 in NJCAA) with 71 RBI and 62 runs in 50 games. In 2015, Duffield was selected as a utility player on the NFCA All-American second team for two-year schools after hitting .420 with 55 RBI and 12 home runs during her freshman season (2015).

Santos will join Canyon del Oro High School (Tucson, Ariz.) teammate Jordyn Quevedo, who signed with UTEP in November of 2016. Santos helped lead the Dorados to their ninth state championship in school history during the 2017 campaign.

Santos played all four years on the varsity squad and hit a combined .440 with six home runs, 55 RBI, 15 doubles, two triples and 45 runs. Santos hit .420 with three long balls, 17 RBI, 16 runs, three doubles and a triple during her senior season.

The Miners’ other six newcomers include incoming freshmen Brianna Hill (Portland, Ore.), Teiya Mauga (San Diego, Calif.), Quevedo (Tucson, Ariz.), Ariana Valles (El Paso, Texas), and transfer pitchers Kira McKechnie (Fresno State) and Julia Wright (Ranger College).

The 2018 roster will be composed of 23 players – seniors Courtney Clayton, Kaitlin Ryder and Taylor Sargent, juniors Ariel Blair, Mariah Ellis, Linda Garcia (redshirt junior), McKechnie, Brianna Red, Santos, Cortney Smith, Lindsey Sokoloski and Wright, sophomores Pamala Baber, Devyn Cretz, Mallorie Cross, Allie Johnson and Bryanna Molina, redshirt freshman Ruby Sanchez and the aforementioned five-incoming freshmen.

UTEP Scores 5 in the Seventh, Rallies Past Middle Tennessee, 9-6

MURFREESBORO, Tenn. – Danielle Pearson connected on a pinch-hit, two-run double and Courtney Clayton launched a two-run home run during a five-run seventh inning, as UTEP rallied past Middle Tennessee 9-6on Sunday at Middle Tennessee Softball Field.

“I’m so proud of this team; it’s hard to comeback, especially down two going into the seventh inning,” third-year head coach Tobin Echo-Hawk said. “They did a great job of staying in the moment and fighting. It’s what we’ve been talking about all weekend. Sometimes things just don’t go your way, and it’s not how they don’t go your way, but how you respond to that. They did a fantastic of responding when they needed to.”

The Miners (18-25, 9-6 Conference USA), despite committing six errors on the day, won their fourth consecutive C-USA series, while the Blue Raiders (23-21, 6-9 C-USA) lost their second consecutive league series.

“The errors put us in a bad situation as far as letting runs score and being behind,” Echo-Hawk added. “Sometimes it’s hard to recover when you have six errors, but the team did a nice job of staying in the moment and not letting it be too big.”

The Miners have a one-game lead on UAB (9-6 C-USA), which lost to FIU 11-3 on Sunday. Southern Miss (10-8 C-USA) completed a sweep against North Texas to win its 10th league game.

With the score 6-4, Hope Moreno led off the seventh with a hit by pitch, followed by a Kawehiokalani Netane single to left. Linda Garcia, who hit the ball well this past weekend, tallied an RBI double to a diving centerfielder, scoring Moreno. Pearson was inserted as a pinch hitter for Cortney Smith and made the most of it.

Pearson connected on a 0-2 pitch and sent the ball to deep left center, plating Netane and pinch runner Ariel Blair. Clayton, with the score 7-6, hammered the nail in the coffin on a full count, one-out pitch and hit a two-run home run, her sixth long ball of the season.

“Danielle was clutch,” Echo-Hawks said. “She had been struggling a bit, but she’s just that clutch person. Sometimes you just need that clutch person and she tends to be that person for us. She had a great at bat.”

Precious Birdsong, who had been a challenge to get out all weekend, singled with one out, but starting pitcher Kaitlin Fifield (8-12) forced a pop out to second and a fly out to center to end the contest. Birdsong, after going 6-for-6 in the first two games, was held to two hits on Sunday.

Middle Tennessee took an early 1-0 lead in the first, as Birdsong scored on an error. Despite a couple fielding miscues that loaded the bases, Fifield was able to force a pair of groundouts to get out of the jam.

UTEP, however, tied the contest in the second on a Jade Rodriguez groundout that scored Moreno, who led off the inning with a walk.

In the third, the Miners gained a 2-1 advantage on a bases loaded situation. Garcia reached on an error by short, plating Kiki Pepi, who singled earlier in the inning.

In the home half, the Blue Raiders tied the contest 2-2 on a Carlie Jenkins RBI single to right center.

In the fifth, Austyn Whaley connected on a two-run home run that gave Middle Tennessee a 4-2 lead.

But again, the Miners would respond in the sixth. Rodriguez reached on a two-out single, followed by a Clayton double (15th of the season) that plated Rodriguez. Ryder then tied the contest on a single up the middle that brought Clayton across the dish.

The lead would change again as Megan Griffith connected on a two-out, two-run single that gave Middle Tennessee a 6-4 advantage in the sixth.

UTEP tallied 15 hits, led by Clayton and Ryder who each finished the afternoon 3-for-5. Clayton registered a trio of RBI, while Pearson recorded two RBI, and Ryder, Garcia and Rodriguez each had an RBI. Fifield won her eighth game and fifth in her last seven starts. Fifield hurled her 10th complete game (7.0 innings) with three earned runs and walked two. She also improved to 6-3 in C-USA contests.

Up Next

UTEP will host I-10 rival NM State in its final nonconference contest on Tuesday at 6 p.m. C-USA action will continue on April 23-24 against West Division rival UAB. Saturday’s doubleheader will start at 1 p.m., whileSunday’s finale will start at noon.

Texas Sweeps UTEP in Two-Game Set

AUSTIN, Texas – The UTEP softball team hung tough with Texas in game one, falling 4-1, but the Longhorns (24-9) scored in each of the first four innings in game two, run-ruling the Miners (17-23), 8-0, on Tuesday at Red & Charline McCombs Field.

The Miners would load the bases a couple times in game one, including the top seventh. But a total of 13 runners were left stranded in the two games combined.

UTEP 1, Texas 4

In the third, UTEP loaded the bases, as Cortney Smith was hit by a pitch and then advanced to second on a Jade Rodriguez sac-bunt, followed by a Courtney Clayton single and a Kiki Pepi walk with two outs. But the runners were left stranded.

Texas took advance and scored a pair of runs on a Lindsey Stephens ground out RBI and a Celina Felix RBI single to center in the bottom third. The Longhorns scored two more runs in the fourth, as Paige von Sprecken put her squad up 4-0 on a two-out, two-run double to deep center.

UTEP made the game interesting, as it loaded the bases again in the seventh. Rodriguez reached first on a fielder’s choice, as pinch-hitter Danielle Pearson, who singled to lead off, was thrown out at second. Clayton and Kaitlin Ryder tallied back-to-back singles, while Pepi also singled, driving home Rodriguez.

But Texas starting pitcher Tiarra Davis (14-7) struck out the next two batters to end the contest.

The Miners outhit the Longhorns 8-6, but left 10 runners on base. Clayton and Sargent each went 2-for-4, while though Kaitlin Fifield (6-12) took the loss, she threw 6.0 solid innings, tallying 5 Ks.

UTEP 0, Texas 8 (5)

Texas got on the board early, scoring the game’s first two runs in the first. Starting pitcher/cleanup hitter von Sprecken and Devon Tunning tallied back-to-back RBI singles with base loaded. But starting game two hurler Pearson forced a Stephanie Ceo groundout to second base to end the frame.

The Miners would get runners on again the following frame, but again had issues getting them across home.

In the second, Sargent led off with a double, her 11th of the season, and Hope Moreno was hit by a pitch. Kawehiokalani Netane then advanced the runners over with a sac-but. But Sargent was thrown out at home after Linda Garcia connected on a ball that was hit to short. It looked as if the ball was going to pass the shortstop Tunning, but she swiped the ball off the ground and made the throw to home. Von Sprecken then struck out the next batter.

The Longhorns put the Miners away, scoring two more runs in the second and three more in the third inning and another in the fourth.

Sargent’s double gives the Miners 55 on the season, the most in Conference USA. Netane added a single in the fifth.

UTEP will have its bye week (April 9-10) and will return to action at Conference USA opponent Middle Tennessee on April 16-17. The Miners’ next home game is against I-10 rival NM State (April 19), while their next home series will be against West Division foe UAB (April 23-24).

Miners Sweep LA Tech with Sunday’s 8-0 Win

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 #9 Kawehiokalani Netane
UTEP #9 Kawehiokalani Netane

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

UTEP #18 Danielle Pearson
UTEP #18 Danielle Pearson

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 #18 Danielle Pearson  and #27 Hope Moreno celebrate after winning game 3 and completing the sweep vs Louisiana Tech
UTEP #18 Danielle Pearson and #27 Hope Moreno celebrate after winning game 3 and completing the sweep vs Louisiana Tech

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.

Up Next

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

Story in Six Pics: Miners get the Sweep Vs La Tech

La Tech and UTEP during pregame festivities
La Tech and UTEP during pregame festivities
UTEP Shortstop #21 Cortney Smith looking to throw to 1st base during game 3 vs La Tech
UTEP Shortstop #21 Cortney Smith looking to throw to 1st base during game 3 vs La Tech
La Tech Assitant Coach Mike Forsythe speaking with Pitcher Carolina Sanchez and Catcher Krysta Tutsch
La Tech Assitant Coach Mike Forsythe speaking with Pitcher Carolina Sanchez and Catcher Krysta Tutsch
Utep #30 Taylor Sargent celebrates after hitting a double vs La Tech.
Utep #30 Taylor Sargent celebrates after hitting a double vs La Tech.
UTEP Third Baseman #4 Kiki Pepi
UTEP Third Baseman #4 Kiki Pepi
UTEP #18 Danielle Pearson
UTEP #18 Danielle Pearson
UTEP #9 Kawehiokalani Netane
UTEP #9 Kawehiokalani Netane
Louisiana Tech
Louisiana Tech
UTEP #4 Kiki Pepi near beats the throw to first during game 3 game vs La Tech.
UTEP #4 Kiki Pepi  beats the throw  and stretching grab from La Tech #12 Pauline Tufi  during game 3 game vs La Tech.
UTEP #00 with the Dive towards home plate
UTEP #00 with the Dive towards home plate
La Tech Shortstop #11 Katie Smith with the throw to First base
La Tech Shortstop #11 Katie Smith with the throw to First base
La Tech starting pitcher #25 Carolina Sanchez
La Tech starting pitcher #25 Carolina Sanchez
laTech v Utep G3-9
La Tech #21 Morgan Turkoly with the swing vs UTEP
UTEP #18 Danielle Pearson and #27 Hope Moreno celebrate after winning game 3 and completing the sweep vs Louisiana Tech
UTEP #18 Danielle Pearson and #27 Hope Moreno celebrate after winning game 3 and completing the sweep vs Louisiana Tech

UTEP Blanks UNLV, 6-0, Pearson’s Tosses First Career Shutout

LAS VEGAS, Nev. – The UTEP softball team split a pair of games on the first day of the DeMarini Desert Classic hosted by UNLVon Friday night at Eller Media Stadium. The Miners (3-4), behind Danielle Pearson’s complete game shutout, defeated UNLV (5-4), 6-0, during the second contest. Nevada rallied to defeat UTEP, 8-5, earlier in the day.

“As we progress, we’re going to learn how to win more and more games,” third-year head coach Tobin Echo-Hawk said.

“I think in that first game, being up 5-1, we started to have that feeling of not to lose. We let things fall apart. But (the UNLV game), the team did a great job right from the beginning. We set the tone and got two runs in the first inning and they didn’t look back. I give a lot of credit to D.P. (Danielle Pearson); she pitched amazing tonight. She did a nice job keeping them off balance and her balls were moving a ton and it’s nice to get that kind of performance.”


Pearson needed one out to complete her first ever shutout in a UTEP uniform and she did just that. The senior from Orlando, Fla., registered her fifth K, fanning pinch hitter Emily Haslinger on a 0-2 pitch with two runners on first and second base to complete the victory. The Runnin’ Rebels really never got any offense going, as Pearson hurled 7.0 frames, allowing only three hits. Pearson also earned career win no. 20, which puts her four wins from tying Kelly Curran for no. 2 on the all-time win’s list.

Besides Pearson pitching a gem, the UTEP bats gave her all the run support she needed. The Miners recorded nine hits, as Kiki Pepi put her squad on the board early with a two-run double to deep left on a one out 2-2 pitch in the first inning. Ariel Blair walked, followed by a Kaitlin Ryder single that paved the way for Pepi’s knock.

The Miners got on the board again during the second frame, as Courtney Clayton singled in Kawehiokalani Netane, who reached base on a leadoff double. An error on the play advanced Clayton to second, while Cortney Smith, who was hit by a pitch earlier, crossed the dish for a 4-0 advantage.

Two more insurance runs were put up in the sixth when Jade Rodriguez reached base on an error with two outs. Clayton doubled in Rodriguez on a shot to deep left center. Ryder also reached on an error, in which Clayton found her way home and into the UTEP dugout.

The victory at Eller Media Stadium was the first since defeating Northwestern State, 12-4, on Feb. 14, 2008 at the Louisville Slugger Desert Classic. The triumph also marked UTEP’s first ever win against UNLV, while it was UTEP’s first road win since beating East Carolina on May 4, 2014 in the season finale.

Clayton finished the night 2-for-3 with a pair of RBI and a run. Taylor Sargent went 2-for-4, while recording 11 putouts.

UTEP 5, Nevada 8

Linda Garcia connected on a towering three-run home run over left center, giving the Miners a 5-1 lead in the bottom of the fifth inning, but Nevada answered with four runs in the sixth frame and three more in the seventh.

Pepi, who hit her first home run against the Wolf Pack last season, connected on her third dinger of 2016. Pepi sent a solo blast over center on a 0-0 count, giving her squad a 1-0 advantage in the third inning. However, Megan Sweet would tie the contest with a solo shot of her own in the fourth.

With the score tied 1-1 In the fifth, freshman Lindsey Sokoloski, who made her first collegiate start as the designated player, led off with a single to left. Pepi followed with a single with one out, advancing Sokoloski to second and eventually crossing home plate on a two-out double by Sargent. Garcia would then record her second long ball of the season on a 0-1 pitch.

Kaitlin Fifield (0-3) pitched 6.1 innings, while fanning six Wolf Pack batters. Fifield didn’t allow a hit during the first three frames. Erika Harrawood finished the game, collecting a pair of Ks.

Pepi finished 3-for-3, tying her career high in hits and scored a pair of runs. She led off the seventh with a single, but two fly outs and a lineout ended the contest.

The Miners tallied 11 hits during the contest. Sargent finished 2-for-4 with a run and an RBI, while freshman Cortney Smith registered her first collegiate hits on a 2-for-3 performance. Netane also went 2-for-3. On the defensive side, Hope Moreno recorded a career-high 13 putouts at the first base position.

Up Next

UTEP will take on Utah State (11:15 a.m. PT) at SLC Park and San Jose State (6 p.m.) at Eller Media Stadium on Saturday on day two of the classic. The Miners will be the ‘home’ team against the Spartans.

UTEP Softball to Open 2016 Campaign in the Sun City

The UTEP softball team will begin the 2016 season at the Helen of Troy Softball Complex, as the Miners will host Incarnate Word on Feb. 11 in a doubleheader. First pitch is slated for 3 p.m., while both contests are free in conjunction National Girls and Women in Sport Day.

Opening day will commence at home for the first time since the 2012 season when the Miners defeated Santa Clara 11-3 (five innings) on Feb. 9, 2012.

UTEP will face Incarnate Word in its first three games of the new season. The Miners will see the Cardinals for the third time at the NM State Invitational on Feb. 13 (1 p.m.) in Las Cruces. UTEP will then face rival NM State (3 p.m.) following its contest against Incarnate Word, while taking on the Aggies again on Feb. 14 (10:30 a.m.).

All-time Series vs. Incarnate Word

UTEP leads the all-time series 3-0. The Miners and Cardinals played each other in a trio of games on Feb. 21-23 at the Helen of Troy Softball Complex. The Miners opened the weekend with a 12-4 (five innings) victory on Feb. 21, as Taylor Grohmann picked up her first career win. The Orange and Blue slipped by the Cardinals 6-5 in eight frames on Feb. 22, and 9-1 in five frames on Feb. 23 behind Grohmann’s six Ks.

Scouting Incarnate Word

The Cardinals went 12-39 in 2015, including a 2-20 road record. Junior pitcher/first baseman Kristin Hebert returns, as she led UIW with 20 RBI in 2015. Hebert led the pitching staff with 155.2 innings and 48 strikeouts. She finished the season with a 5-19 mark and a 4.72 ERA. Senior third baseman Shelbi Swenson hit .319 with four home runs and 16 RBI.

Kawehi’s Breakout Season

Senior Kawehiokalani Netane was named 2016 Preseason All-Conference USA after producing a breakout junior season in 2015. Netane earned a spot on the All-C-USA first team after establishing career highs down the stat line.

The native of Orlando, Fla., set career bests in home runs (eight), RBI (32), hits (56), doubles (10) and triples (four). She led the team with a .357 batting average – also a career high, while it ranked 16th-best in C-USA. Netane hit .388 in C-USA games only, ranking 11th in that category. She recorded a team and season-high of reaching base in 15 consecutive games from Feb. 22-March 14.

Netane hit .476 (20-for-42) with four jacks, 15 RBI and nine walks during that span. Netane also earned C-USA Player of the Week on April 13.

Phenomenal Freshman

Sophomore Courtney Clayton made an immediate impact during her first season with the Orange and Blue. Clayton started all 53 games in 2015, while being named to the Conference USA All-Freshman team. The native of Cornelius, Ore., hit .305, while ranking third on the team in home runs (seven) and RBI (30). Clayton chipped in with 27 runs scored and tied second on the squad with 10 doubles. She was a tough strikeout, whiffing only eight times in 167 at bats.

Clayton’s seven long balls were tied with Amber Bennett (2006) for third-most during a freshman campaign at UTEP, while her 30 RBI were fourth most for a freshman. Chelsea Troupe recorded 36 in 2009; Ashley Ellis produced 34 in 2007, while Camilla Carrera registered 32 in 2008. Defensively, Clayton led the Miners with 111 assists, tied with Miraya Montiel (2014) for second-most in program history.

More Freshmen Production

Besides Courtney Clayton making an impact, sophomores Linda Garcia, Hope Moreno, Kaitlin Ryder and Taylor Sargent made major contributions during their freshmen campaigns. The quartet combined for 10 home runs, 51 RBI and 42 runs scored. Ryder and Sargent each tallied 16 RBI, while Moreno hit .294 on the season.

Garcia’s production was apparent in Conference USA only games, hitting .275 with three home runs and nine RBI in 17 league games. Sargent also led the Miners with 292 putouts. Ryder only committed one error, while forging a .990 fielding percentage.

Road Woes

UTEP finished with a winless road record (0-19) in 2015, as it was the first time since the 2012 season (0-15) the squad went winless on the road. The Miners’ last road win came on May 4 – a 4-1 victory over East Carolina to end the 2014 season. UTEP’s record on the road during since 2013 is 10-50. In 2015, UTEP hit .251, while being outscored 132-45 on the road.

Home Sweet Helen of Troy

As the road has been unpleasant for UTEP, its home record the last two seasons is 22-14. During UTEP’s 18 home contests in 2015, the Miners hit .337 with 19 home runs and 116 runs scored (6.4 runs per game). UTEP also produced back-to-back winning home records for the first time since the 2009 (14-13) and 2010 (15-4) seasons. Prior the Tobin Echo-Hawk being named head coach, the Miners’ home record in 2013 was 3-15. UTEP combined for a 27-51 home record during the 2011, 2012 and 2013 seasons.

More Home Games in 2016

UTEP will play in 21 home contests in 2016 after playing 18 games in the Sun City each of the last three seasons. The Miners played in 30 home games during the 2012 season and 30 in 2011. UTEP’s overall record at the Helen of Troy Softball Complex is 129-121 since the field opened for the 2005 season. Overall, the Orange and Blue is 133-135 in El Paso, as the 2004 inaugural season saw the Miners play 18 games at the El Paso Community College softball field.

UTEP won 19 home games in 2008, the most in program history, while its .789 winning percentage (15-4) in 2010 ranks best in school annals.

Conference Groove

UTEP has not made the Conference USA tournament since the 2010 season. Though the Miners’ conference record in under .500, their combined 18-30 league record is the most wins since forging a 19-28-1 record during the 2009 and 2010 seasons. Prior to Tobin Echo-Hawktaking the helm of the program the Miners went 6-64-1 in conference contests. In its 12-year history, the UTEP softball program has never fashioned a winning conference record, as its 11-13 record in 2010 produced the most league wins and best winning percentage (.458) in program history.

Offensive Surge

Prior to Tobin Echo-Hawk arriving to UTEP, the Miners hit .264 with 18 home runs and 177 runs scored in 2013. Under Echo-Hawk, UTEP hit .292 during the 2014 and 2015 seasons combined. In 2015, the Miners’ .293 average was the second-best in program history, behind 2007’s .303 average. In 2014, the Miners hit .290 – the fourth-best average in program history. In the long ball department, UTEP has hit 69 home runs the last two campaigns. The Miners’ 39 jacks in 2015 were tied for sixth-most in school history (2010).

Defensive Notes

UTEP turned 21 doubles plays in 2015, matching the program’s single-season high (2007). FIU led Conference USA with 24 double plays turned last season. UTEP also set a program record with 489 assists in 2015 and ranking second in C-USA behind Florida Atlantic’s 500 assists.

Fifield in the Circle

Junior Kaitlin Fifield established herself as the team ace after leading the staff in wins (nine), innings pitched (149.2), strikeouts (90) and complete games (15). Fifield made a dramatic improvement from her freshman campaign in 2014, forging a 2-3 mark with an 11.12 ERA. Fifield posted a 7-9 record in Conference USA only games with a 2.98 ERA. The native of El Paso was even better at home, fashioning an 8-3 record with an ERA of 2.10 (60.0 innings pitched) and 43 Ks.

Sun City Sluggers

Six players from El Paso grace the 2016 roster. Freshman Ariel Blair (Hanks HS), junior Kaitlin Fifield (Chapin HS), junior Taylor Grohmann(Americas HS), junior Erika Harrawood (Franklin HS), junior Yvette Ortega (Franklin HS) and senior Jade Rodriguez (Americas HS) all played their high school softball in the Sun City. Junior transfer Miranda Gutierrez is no stranger to El Paso, as the Chino Hills, Calif., native played at El Paso Community College for two seasons (2014, 2015).

Roster Breakdown

The 2016 UTEP softball roster will consist of four seniors (Kawehiokalani Netane, Danielle Pearson, Morgan Rasmason and Jade Rodriguez), six juniors (Kaitlin Fifield, Taylor Grohmann, Miranda Gutierrez, Erika Harrawood, Yvette Ortega and Kiki Pepi), six sophomores (CourtneyClayton, Dani Fincham, Linda Garcia, Hope Moreno, Kaitlin Ryder and Taylor Sargent), and four freshman (Ariel Blair, Devyn Cretz, CortneySmith and Lindsey Sokoloski).

Garcia is listed as the line catcher, as Ryder is listed as a utility player, but will see much action behind home plate this season. The six infielders include, Smith, Ortega, Pepi, Clayton, Moreno and Sargent. The five outfielders include Blair, Sokoloski, Gutierrez, Rasmason and Rodriguez. The pitching staff will consist of Fifield, Grohmann, Harrawood, Fincham and Pearson (Cretz will redshirt in 2016). Netane is listed as a utility player, along with Ryder.

Conference USA Format

Conference USA softball will be spit into two divisions, same as last year. Charlotte, FIU, Florida Atlantic, Marshall, Middle Tennessee, and WKU make up the East Division, while LA Tech, North Texas, Southern Miss, UAB, UTEP and UTSA will play in the West. The C-USA Tournament will by played May 11-14 in Denton, Texas (North Texas).

The top eight teams in the regular season standings will qualify for the four-day championship. The first day will be single elimination, with seeds three and four receiving a bye. The top two seeds earn a double-bye to advance to the second day, when it becomes double-elimination until the final two teams are determined.

Those two will be in the single-elimination championship final with the winner earning the league’s automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament.

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