Tuesday , February 20 2018
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UTEP Set to Serve Community with Project MOVE

More than 1,200 members of the Miner Nation will participate in The University of Texas at El Paso’s ninth annual Project MOVE, UTEP’s day of community service, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday, February 24, 2018, at 50 sites across El Paso County.

The volunteers – a combination of students, staff, faculty, alumni and friends – will clean, build, paint, plant, patch and landscape, among other things. Many of them also will learn about different parts of the community, the nonprofit organizations they are helping, and the people that agency serves.

“Participation in Project MOVE better prepares our students to be more well-rounded community members,” said Ofelia Dominguez, director of UTEP’s Union Services and lead organizer for this year’s Project MOVE (Miner Opportunities for Volunteer Experiences). “In some cases, the students will be introduced to a new part of the community and be taken outside their comfort zone. The experience will help them grow as people. It will make them more confident about what they can do.”

The day will start with a pep rally at UTEP’s Kidd Field at about 9 a.m. The volunteers, who will sport orange Project MOVE T-shirts, will be dismissed around 9:30 a.m. to go to their job sites.

Several UTEP alumni chapters and networks have expressed their desire to be part of Project MOVE. For example, several members of the San Antonio Alumni Network plan to landscape outside the offices of the Strong Foundation, an agency that helps homeless families with children.

Other Miner alumni groups also told UTEP’s Office of Alumni Relations of their willingness to participate.

“We hope that other chapters will join us so Project MOVE can become a national day of service,” said Liliana Barrios, director of alumni engagement programs. “We have our athletic events and social events, but we want our alumni to consider community service opportunities because they generate their own meaningful experiences.”

After Vegas Winning Streak, UTEP to Host I-10 Rival NM State Tuesday

The UTEP softball team will look to extend its three-game winning streak as the Miners (4-6) host NM State (3-3) on Feb. 20 to open the 2018 home portion of the schedule.

The Miners are coming off three victories in Las Vegas, Nev., as they started with an 8-0 triumph in five frames behind a combined no-hitter against New Mexico on Saturday afternoon. The winning ways continued later in the evening when the Miners used poise to defeat UNLV, 8-7.

The Vegas weekend ended with a 7-5 win over South Dakota in which the Miners found themselves down 5-0 heading into the third inning. UTEP scored six runs in the third to take the go-ahead lead and eventual victory. The 3-2 Vegas weekend was the first winning record in the desert since 2008.

The Miners’ three-game winning streak is the longest since winning three consecutive against North Texas in 2016. UTEP (four wins) has also won a third of its total from last season’s total wins (12).

First pitch is slated for 6 p.m. at the Helen of Troy Softball Complex in FirstLight FCU Battle of I-10. Tickets are available at the gate [$5 for adults, $3 for children], or call 747.5234.

***UTEP/NMSU In Depth

The Aggies are at an even 3-3 mark after defeating Boston University, 2-1, on Feb. 18 to end a three-game losing skid. NM State opened the 2018 campaign with a pair of big wins over no. 17/13 Kentucky, while losing the series finale, 10-2 in Las Cruces.

After a pair of cancelations against no. 1/1 Oklahoma and Boston U due to rain on Feb. 16 at the Troy Cox Classic at NM State Field, the Aggies fell to Ball State, 3-2, and OU, 2-0, on Feb. 17. NM State is hitting .311 as a team with five home runs and 28 runs scored. Fahren Glackin is pacing the Aggies with a .583 average (7-12), while tallying four RBI. Kelsey Horton (.381) and Victoria Castro (.286) have each recorded two home runs and seven RBI. The team ERA is 3.93 as Kayla Green (3-1) leads the staff in wins and inning pitched (19.1). Samaria Diaz (0-2) leads the team with 14 strike outs in 15.1 frames thrown.

The Aggies own a 11-33 advantage against the Miners. UTEP defeated NM State on March 1, 2017 in Las Cruces, but fell in both contests at Helen of Troy Softball Complex (March 28). Kiki Pepi produced four RBI, Devyn Cretz struck out five batters and Erika Harrawood earned her first career save during the Miners’ 5-3 victory. During the two losses, UTEP registered a total of 21 hits.

On Feb. 17, UTEP defeated New Mexico 8-0 in five innings behind a combined no-hitter. It was the first ever combined no-hitter in UTEP history as starting pitcher Devyn Cretz tossed 3.0 and Kira McKechnie threw 2.0 frames and combined for five strike outs and four walks during contest.

It was the first no-hitter since Kaitlin Fifield tossed a complete-game no-no against Texas A&M-CC on Feb. 27, 2016 in College Station. Stacie Townsend (March 18, 2010 at Belmont), Nichole Tunget (Feb. 10, 2008 at Prairie View A&M), Veronica Flournoy (March 10, 2006 vs. Centenary), Megan Barber (Feb. 22, 2005 vs. Howard Payne) and Renee Dipuccio (Feb. 15, 2004 vs. Sul Ross State) each tossed no-hitters during their respective careers.

Junior transfer pitcher Julia Wright threw her best stuff on Feb. 18 against South Dakota. The Miners found themselves down 5-0 heading into the bottom third. UTEP scored six during that home half frame and Wright took over from there. She threw 4.0 frames, striking out a UTEP career high six Coyotes, but most importantly, didn’t walk any batters, while earned her first career save at UTEP. Wright leads the staff in innings pitched (25.2), starts (four) and K’s (18) in her first with the program.

Sophomore Devyn Cretz produced her best weekend in her young career, winning a pair of contests during UTEP’s three game winning streak. The sophomore threw 11.0 innings and tallied six strike outs. But the big game came against New Mexico, in which she was part of a combined no-hit effort during the 8-0 [5] win. Cretz tossed 3.0 frames and recorded three Ks during the start in the circle, while also being credited with the victory against the Lobos. Cretz threw another 3.0 innings against UNLV in a relief appearance and received her second win on Saturday. Cretz struck out a Rebel, but most importantly, didn’t walk any batters. Cretz also recorded a pair of assists, the first against Nevada and the second against New Mexico. Cretz has tossed 17.2 frames (second most on staff), while recorded 10 K’s on the season.

Freshman Ilena Santos’s solo home run against South Dakota during the bottom third inning gave the Miners an offensive spark. With the score 5-0, Santos drove a 1-1 pitch into the wind over left center to put her squad on the scoresheet. The hit led to five other hits and five more runs that gave UTEP a 6-5 lead and eventual 7-5 triumph. Santos is hitting .280 (7-25) with four runs, two home runs and three RBI. She’s started all 10 games in left, recording nine putouts and four assists and being part of two of seven double plays turned.

Junior Ariel Blair got her first start of 2018 against Boise State, in which she recorded an infield single and a stolen base, while she stole a base and scored a run against Nevada. But her presence was felt during UTEP’s three-game winning streak. Blair hit .500 (5-10) at the leadoff spot with an RBI and a stolen base during the trio of contests. Her RBI came during the UNLV game in which the Miners scored two insurance runs during the 8-7 victory versus the Rebels. Blair went 2-for-3 with a run scored against New Mexico and went 2-for-4 with a run and stolen bag against South Dakota. Overall, Blair is hitting .400 (6-15) with four runs and has a team-leading three stolen bases on three steal attempts.

Senior Courtney Clayton’s bat woke up in Las Vegas as she hit .389 (7-18) after entering the weekend hitting .214. Clayton added five runs, a double, triple, first home run of 2018 and three RBI in the early part of the season. Clayton hit a solo shot against Boise State on Feb. 16 in the late, while singling against Nevada during the early game. Then Clayton came up with big numbers against New Mexico, going a perfect 3-for-3 with three runs scored. Clayton’s RBI triple at UNLV put the Miners on the board first, while she scored a run against South Dakota. Clayton is hitting .313 and leads the Miners in at bats (32) and runs scored (eight).

Senior Courtney Clayton started 2018 with 10 hits in 32 at bats, eight runs scored, home run and four RBI. She also recorded 20 putouts with 16 assists from second base in five starts. Clayton now has 109 runs, moving to fifth in program history. Clayton’s 190 hits now rank fourth and needs 10 to move up to be tied for third on the program’s all-time list. Clayton recorded three RBI over the weekend and now has 90 in her career, ranking eighth. She’s looking to be the eighth Miner to reach 100-plus RBI during a career at UTEP. Clayton now had 548 career at bats, ranking eighth on the program’s all-time list. Clayton now has 329 assists, moving up to third on the all-time list, and needing two to move to second.

Sophomore Pamala Baber drew three walks at UNLV after striking out during her first at bat against the Rebels. The three walks drawn by Baber rank tied for sixth best in program history during the 8-7 win against UNLV. Baber is hitting .313 with a home run, three RBI and five walks (tied for team lead).

Courtney Clayton tied her career high with three runs scored against New Mexico, while Pamala Baber crossed the dish three times (the second most during her career) at UNLV. Their respective performances are tied for ninth best during a single game in program history. Baber scored four runs at New Mexico on March 8, 2017 – tied second most in team history.

Junior Cortney Smith turned in another gem this past weekend at the Marucci Desert Classic, hitting .429 (6-14) and connecting on her team-leading third home run of 2018. Smith hit a solo shot against Boise State on Friday, but then got a hold of a 1-2 pitch and sent over left field, a two-run shot, during UTEP’s 8-0 [5] victory against New Mexico on Saturday. She added three runs and three RBI during the Vegas trip. Overall, Smith is pacing the club with a .385 batting average (10-26), while tallying four runs, a double and five walks (tied for team lead). Defensively, Smith has recorded nine putouts and 19 assists in 10 games started at third base.

Cortney Smith and Pamala Baber have each drawn five walks in 2018. The pair ranks in the top 20 in Conference USA.

Freshman Ariana Valles came up with clutch offense (.438 avg., four RBI & three runs scored) and defense (six putouts, 13 assists & zero errors) at the Marucci Desert Classic. After starting a combined 1-for-6 during UTEP’s first two contests in Vegas, Valles’s bat lit up when she hit a hard triple to deep right field, scoring the game-winning runs during the Miners’ 8-0 [5] no-hit victory on Feb. 17.

Valles then produced a season-high three hits with a run scored and two RBI during the 8-7 victory at UNLV. Valles’s RBI single scored the first of three runs during the sixth inning against the Rebels, in which the Miners took a 6-5 lead after being down two runs. Defensively, Valles was smooth at short as she recorded six assists, tied for 10th best in program history.

Valles, a graduate of Chapin High School in El Paso, is hitting .391 with four RBI, four runs, a triple and double. Defensively, she leads the Miners with 23 assists, while recording 16 putouts.

Senior Kaitlin Ryder had another great weekend, hitting .444 (8-18) with a team-high six RBI in Las Vegas. Ryder added a run and two doubles, while making the start behind home plate the last four games. During that span, she threw out two runners caught stealing and recorded a pickoff.

Ryder also tied her career high with a trio of hits at UNLV during the Miners’ 8-7 win, while she also registered a two-run single during a three-run sixth against the Rebels. Against South Dakota, Ryder tallied a career-high 10 putouts. Ryder ranks second on the team with a .367 batting average, while leading the Miners in RBI (nine), doubles (two) and hits (11). She also ranks second on the team with 33 putouts.

Senior Taylor Sargent is hitting .269 on the year and has started all 10 games at first base, while also seeing time in right field. She’s recorded a team-most 60 putouts and three assists. Sargent has 710 career putouts, ranking fifth in program history. Sargent drilled her first home run of 2018, a two-run home run against Saint Mary’s College in the first inning on Feb. 10. It was her first long ball since going yard against North Texas on May 1, 2016. Sargent has added seven hits, a run and three RBI, while only striking out once in 26 at bats.

The UTEP defense turned its seventh double play, when Ariana Valles recorded an unassisted out on the runners at second and threw the batter out to first baseman Taylor Sargent at UNLV to end the sixth inning. The Miners rank first in that department in Conference USA. Overall, the last three seasons, the defense has turned 67 double plays in its last 110 games (.61 per game). UTEP’s .70 double plays turned per game ranks tied 18th nationally, while its seven turned are tied for fourth most in the nation.

Redshirt junior Linda Garcia, after missing all of 2017 due to injury, made her way back to the softball diamond in Tempe, Ariz. Garcia recorded three at bats in pinch hit situations (vs. Mizzou, no. 3 Oregon & UC Davis), while she also made an appearance behind the plate against San Jose State. Garcia also made her first start since May 11, 2016 when she got the nod at the designated player position against Boise State. Garcia tallied a putout against SJSU. Garcia’s last full season in 2016, she hit seven home runs and registered 20 RBI.

Freshman Jordyn Quevedo and sophomore Bryanna Molina each recorded a run during clutch victories at the Marucci Desert Classic. Quevedo made the most of her opportunity when she was inserted as pinch runner in the sixth inning at UNLV, while she also stole her first career base to set up her run scored during a three-run sixth. Molina finally crossed the dish for the first time in her career during a pinch-hit opportunity against South Dakota. Molina reached on a fielder’s choice with bases loaded during UTEP’s six-run third.

The UTEP offense picked up in Las Vegas, as the Miners connected on five more home runs after hitting four dingers at the Kajikawa Classic. The Miners have blasted nine dingers, ranking tied with UTSA for second most in Conference USA. WKU leads with 11 home runs. Cortney Smith leads the Miners with three long balls, Ilena Santos has two, while Kaitlin Ryder, Pamala Baber, Courtney Clayton and Taylor Sargent have each went yard.

Miners Claim Eight Medals on Final Day of C-USA Championships

Birmingham, Al. – The UTEP track and field team tallied eight medals on the final day of the 2018 Conference USA Indoor Championships Indoor Track Championships at the Birmingham CrossPlex in Birmingham.

“We have a very young team and we had some good performances today,” said head coach Mika Laaksonen. “It’s good for us to have this kind of meet under our belt to see where we are as we prepare for the outdoor season.”

The women’s side notched four medals in three different events, junior Lilian Koech led the way for the Miners scoring 18.5 points in three events. The Kenya native took gold in the mile with a time of 4:53.15. She followed that performance with a bronze medal finish in the 3,000m stopping the clock at 9:39.56. Koech helped the distance medley relay team to a first-place finish.

Winny Koech tallied 16 points for the Orange and Blue over two events. Koech earned a second-place showing in the 3,000m (9:39.05) and 5,000m (16:33.39).

The Miners had eight more athletes score in the finals. Freshman Carolyne Chepkosgei took silver in the 800m clocking a time of 2:09.50, adding eight team points.

Tyler Ragin notched a seventh-place finish in the 60m clocking 7.61 to earn two points.

Following Ragin, junior Rebecca Oshinbanjo clocked a time of 9.14 in the 60m hurdles to finish eighth overall adding one team point.

In the final event, Madison Gibson, Lucy Mokrasova, Annette Bolomboy and Imani Adams combined to run the mile relay in a time of 3:44.90 to finish fourth overall and earning four team points.

The men’s team finished with four medals and 58 total team points for a sixth-place finish.

Sophomore Michael Saruni and junior Jonah Koech shined on day two with both student-athletes competing in the 800m and mile final. Koech clocked a mile time of 4:10.03 edging out Saruni (4:10.39) for the gold. Saruni returned the favor by narrowly beating Koech (1:52.10) in the 800m with a time of 1:52.05. Both Kenya natives scored 18 team points to lead the Miners.

A pair of Miners notched fourth-place finishes in their respective events, scoring five team points. Senior Asa Guevara clocked 47.97 in the 400m to finish fourth overall. Newcomer Shakeem Smith clocked a personal-best 8.07 in the 60m hurdles.

Boaz Ronoh finished 14th overall in the 3,000m clocking a personal-best time of 8:37.30.

Benjamin Coronado competed in the shot put and tossed a personal-best 14.60m (47-11) to finish 13th overall.

The Miners will return to action on March 9-11 for the NCAA Indoor Championships in College Station, Texas. The top-16 athletes in the nation for each event will qualify to the championships.

Be sure to follow @UTEPTrack on Twitter and UTEPTRACK on Instagram for live updates and breaking news.

Miners Explode for Six-Runs in Third to Down South Dakota 7-5

LAS VEGAS, Nv. – When South Dakota poured on four runs in the first inning and another during the third to take an early 5-0 lead on a UTEP, the ‘never say die’ Miners – bolstered by confidence gained in their previous two wins – came roaring back .

The Miners (4-6) pounded out six hits and crossed the dish six times in the third inning on their way to a 7-5 victory over the Coyotes (1-10) on a windy and chilly Sunday afternoon at SLC Park.

The victory is also the Miners’ third in a row, the most since winning three consecutive against North Texas in 2016.

“[The team] just kept plugging away,” fifth-year UTEP head coach Tobin Echo-Hawk said. “I think with yesterday’s big wins, it gave the team confidence. I didn’t see them panic at all and they have this look of trust in their eyes no matter what was going to happen – we were going to win that game. You just have to love it when a team gets to that point.”

Starting South Dakota pitcher Dustie Durham cruised during the first two innings, allowing only one hit – an Ariel Blair bunt single during the first frame. Blair would advance to second on an errand throw by the pitcher, but Durham kept the UTEP bats in check.

In the top third, after a pair of wild pitches, Taylor Steinfeldt, who reached base on a walk, scored a run on a Durham groundout to second base, giving the Coyotes a 5-0 lead.

The Miners’ bats then came alive during the bottom half.

Freshman Ilena Santos got the hit parade started and sparked her teammates when she drove a 1-1 pitch into blustery wind conditions over left center to put the Miners on the board. It was Santos’s second dinger of the season. Fellow freshman Ariana Valles followed with a shallow double to center as the high winds kept the ball in the air, making it difficult for the shortstop and center fielder to make the out. Blair connected on her second bunt single of the day to put runners at the corners for the Miners, while following with a stolen base to set up Kaitlin Ryder. The senior took a 1-2 pitch and sent to left that plated Valles and Blair, making the score 5-3.

The inning continued as Courtney Clayton reached on an error by the shortstop and Smith bunted to load the bases. Pinch-hitter Bryanna Molina reached on a fielder’s choice as Ryder was thrown out at home. But Pamala Baber singled on an infield hit to shallow third, scoring Clayton to make the contest a one-run edge.

The Miners batted around the order as Santos, who led the inning with her solo shot, put the ball into play and reached when the shortstop committed her second error of the inning. UTEP capitalized on the miscue as Baber and Molina scored to give their squad a 6-5 advantage.

Relief pitcher Julia Wright took over from there. The junior transfer gave the Miners 4.0 fantastic innings. Wright struck out six Coyotes with zero walks allowed. Wright earned the save, the first of her UTEP career. Junior transfer Kira McKechnie, who came into relief for starter Devyn Cretz, threw 2.0 frames, allowed only one hit and struck out two. McKechnie (2-2) earned the victory, her second of her collegiate career.

The Miners put an insurance run on the scoresheet during the sixth on a Ryder RBI single that plated Valles, who singled to right with one out.

Wright then forced a fly out to right (Baber), struck out a batter looking and an unassisted out by first baseman Taylor Sargent to put the contest in the books.

UTEP amassed 11 more hits, its third consecutive double-digit hit game. Ryder finished 2-for-4 with three RBI, Blair went 2-for-4 with a run scored, Smith registered a 2-for-3 outing and Valles produced a pair of hits on a trio of at bats with a pair of runs scored.

“We’re hitting the ball well and putting it into play,” Echo-Hawk said. “It’s like I said last night, if you put the ball into play, it puts pressure on the defense. We also got those timely hits during the last three games. But we need to continue to work, but I couldn’t be prouder of this group of ladies.”

The Miners finished the weekend 3-2, the first winning weekend in Las Vegas, Nev., since the 2008 season.

“We had a couple bad innings here and there [versus Nevada and Boise State on Friday] and if you take those bad innings away, those two ball games are a different outcome,” Echo-Hawk said. “But [Nevada and Boise State] are great teams; can’t say one bad thing about them. We competed with them for a portion of the game, we just need to compete the whole game.”

And the Miners did just that Saturday and Sunday.

Up Next
UTEP will host I-10 rival NM State (3-3) on Feb. 20 to open the 2018 home slate. First pitch is scheduled for 6 p.m. at the Helen of Troy Softball Complex. The Miners will then host the UTEP Tournament Feb. 23-25.

Old Dominion Dominates Miners 82-33

NORFOLK, VA. – Old Dominion stifled UTEP into 27.5 percent shooting, cruising to an
82-33 victory over the Miners on Saturday night at the Constant Center.

The Miners (8-18, 3-11 C-USA) made 14-of-51 shots and 2-of-19 (10.5 percent) from
three-point range. UTEP also committed 17 turnovers, leading to 20 points for the
Monarchs (21-5, 12-2 C-USA).

“We played a far superior team on the road tonight,” UTEP Interim Head Coach Phil
Johnson said. “Obviously it showed in the score. I’m still disappointed in the
fact that we just didn’t have a good start. Turnovers were brutal and you can’t do
that against a team like this. They convert every turnover into a basket and dunks.
Obviously the glass was an issue when Matt [Willms] went down. There’s not much
there in the frontline to go rebound. Tirus [Smith] is still trying to get in

Willms was limited to nine minutes before leaving the game. He had an ice pack on
his knee in the second half. Smith fouled out in 12 minutes. Paul Thomas battled
inside. He was the only Miner in double figures with 10 points in 24 minutes, and
he also paced UTEP with six rebounds. The Miners were outrebounded 43-32.

The Monarchs bolted to a 12-2 lead as the Miners missed seven of their first eight
shots. With his team trailing 7-0, Johnson made a wholesale lineup substitution
with Jake Flaggert, Kobe Magee, Tirus Smith, Trey Touchet and Trey Wade all coming
in with 17:22 on the clock. But the Miners didn’t fare much better against ODU’s
stout defense the rest of the half. UTEP finished the period trailing 32-14,
including a buzzer-beating three by Magee right before the break.

The Miners shot 27.3 percent (6-for-22) from the field over the opening 20 minutes.
ODU shot just 43.8 percent (14-for-32) but scored 10 points off 10 UTEP turnovers,
many on transition dunks.

The second half was another mighty struggle for the Miners after they pulled within
15 (37-22) on a layup by Omega Harris with 16:36 to go. It got away from them as
Old Dominion built the lead to 49. The Monarchs scored 50 points in the second half
and, for the second straight game, got going from three-point range. After making
15 triples on Thursday against UTSA, ODU hit 12 on Saturday – including nine in the
second half.

Randy Haynes led the Monarchs with 24 points, while Ahmad Caver had 18 along with
seven assists and no turnovers. Caver and Brandan Stith both had three steals.

“We’re going to throw this one in the garbage can and try to get home and play
better,” Johnson said.

The Miners will complete their 2017-18 home schedule next week against LA Tech
(Thursday) and Southern Miss (Saturday). Tip-off for both games is 7 p.m. MT.

UTEP Softball Hangs on to Defeat UNLV 8-7

LAS VEGAS, Nv. – Just hours after UTEP defeated New Mexico behind a combined no-hitter, the Miners (3-6) came up with a huge 8-7 victory over host school UNLV (6-2) on the second day at the Marucci Desert Classic at Eller Media Stadium on Saturday night.

“It was a crazy game, but it’s the kind of games you love,” fifth-year UTEP head coach Tobin Echo-Hawk said. “It was a battle and I think our kids did a nice job. We went ahead and [UNLV] came back and [UTEP] did a nice job of not giving up, continued to fight and our hitters were on it.”

Courtney Clayton, who registered two more hits on the night after getting three against UNM, continued her monster day at the plate when she tripled in Kaitlin Ryder in the first inning to put the Miners on the scoreboard first.

With the score 1-0 heading to the fourth inning, Pamala Baber drew a one-out walk, the first of three for the sophomore. Kacey Duffield followed with her first hit in a UTEP uniform, a double down the right field line. A pair of freshman then gave the Miners a 3-0 lead when Ileana Santos and Ariana Valles used back-to-back RBI singles to score Baber and Duffield.

But the Rebels answered with a four-run fourth and added another run in the fifth to take a 5-3 lead.

The Miners, however, were resilient.

“I told [the team] to keep fighting,” Echo-Hawk said. “We’re a good team and if you keep fighting, things are going to happen and they did. We put the pressure on them and when you put pressure on other teams, it forces them to make mistakes.”

In the top sixth, Baber drew her second walk of the night, while Duffield also walked. Freshman Jordyn Quevedo was inserted as a pinch runner for Duffield. Baber and Quevedo performed a double steal that set up Valles’s second RBI in the contest. She drove a ball down the right line that plated Baber. Then with two outs, Ryder took the first pitch off relief pitcher Janine Petmecky up the middle to center that scored Quevedo and Valles to take a 6-5 lead.

In the top seventh, the Miners tacked on insurance runs. Baber drew her second one-out walk and third overall of the night, Duffield singled to right field and Santos singled to load the bases. Valles then put the ball into play as UNLV’s shortstop Samantha Diaz committed an error that scored Baber. The Miners then took an 8-5 lead when Ariel Blair used a bunt that scored Duffield.

The Rebels made things interesting when Diaz connected on a two-run, one-out home run. The Rebels put two more runners at the corners with two outs, but relief pitcher Devyn Cretz forced a groundout to Valles that put the game in the books.

Cretz (2-2) threw 3.0 innings, walking none and striking out a batter for her second win of the day. Julia Wright made the start and hurled 3.0 frames and tallied two K’s. Kira McKechnie, who was part of that combined no-hitter earlier on Saturday, threw one inning.

The Miners amassed 13 hits, led by Ryder (3-for-5) and Valles (3-for-4). Baber scored three runs and drew three walks, while Duffield (2-for-3) and Santos (2-for-4) each recorded a pair of knocks. Blair registered three hits during the two victories.

Clayton is now 10 RBI away from 100 in her career, ranking eighth on UTEP’s all-time list. She also has 190 career hits, 10 from tying Stacie Townsend for third on the all-time list.

UTEP also turned its seventh double play of the season to end the sixth inning. The victory was the second against UNLV and first since defeating the Rebels 6-0 on Feb. 19, 2016.

Up Next
UTEP will take on South Dakota on Sunday at 9 a.m. PT/10 MT. The Miners will be the designated ‘home’ team in the contest at the SLC Park.

UTEP Men’s Golf Wraps Up Play At John A. Burns Intercollegiate

Lihu’e, Kaua’i, HI – Another solid round was turned in, but the UTEP men’s golf team stayed in 15th place out of 20 teams to end the John A. Burns Intercollegiate at the Wailua Golf Course (par 72/6,991 yards) in Lihu’e, Kaua’i, HI on Saturday.

The Miners mirrored Friday’s low-round score of 291 to finish the tournament with a 17-over 881 (299-291-291) total. No. 4 Texas A&M won the title after firing 29-under 835 (283-278-274), while No. 28 North Carolina and No. 49 UNLV tied for second place with 12-under 852, and Virginia and No. 42 Arizona tied for fourth place with 6-under 858 to round out the top-5. The Aggies’ Chandler Phillips won the individual title after going 13-under 203 (69-67-67).

“We had three guys that shot even today, so that was a little more balanced,” head coach Scott Lieberwirth said. “We just struggled to get a top to bottom performance. We just never could get comfortable around the greens. I would have expected scoring to get a little bit better each round you play. I think we did a better job in the second and third rounds, but we dug ourselves in a hole we just couldn’t climb out of. We were so far back of passing a bunch of teams.”

Pacing the Miners, Charles Corner squeezed his way into the top-20 of the field after firing a round of 72 for a 1-under 215 (72-71-72) showing and a share of 20th place. The senior picked up four birdies in his even round for a team-leading 12 total throughout the tournament. It marked the third time the reigning Conference USA co-Golfer of the Week finished at the top of the UTEP card this season.

Juniors Aaron Terrazas and Settavut Paradee stayed at each other’s hips and climbed up 14 spots on the leader board, both tying for 64th place with 6-over 222. Both Miners shot even in round three, while Paradee shot his low round of 72 on Saturday, complete with four birdies including one to both start and end his day. Terrazas also had his low round of 72 while carding three birdies.

Senior Nicklas Pihl shot a round of 76 for a 9-over 225 (76-73-76) score and a share of 85th, while Prescott Mann was close behind with a round of 75 for a 10-over 226 (77-74-75) total, tying for 87th place to round out the Miner scorecard. Mann picked up four birdies while Pihl tallied two.

Playing as an individual, Chad Ahn carded two birdies on his way for a share of 98th after shooting 14-over 230 (77-77-76) in the tournament.

As a unit, the Miners totaled 43 birdies, 165 pars and one eagle in the tournament.

The Miners will return to action Feb. 26 and 27 when they compete at the National Invitational Tournament in Tucson, Ariz.

UTEP Pitchers Blank Lobos, As Bats Blast UNM En Route to 8-0 Win

LAS VEGAS, Nv. – UTEP pitchers Devyn Cretz and Kira McKechnie combined for a no-hitter, Courtney Clayton went 3-for-3 at the plate with three runs scored, Cortney Smith hit her third home run of 2018 and freshman Ariana Valles recorded her first career triple and RBI as the Miners defeated New Mexico, 8-0 in five frames in the early game on the second day at the Marcucci Desert Classic.

“It was just a good all-around game and I think some people had good individual performances, but I think it was a great team win,” fifth-year UTEP head coach Tobin Echo-Hawk said. “It wasn’t one person who did everything, and talking about a no-hitter, two pitchers played a part in that, but we talked a lot yesterday that we are a unit and we’re doing it together. We rely on each other and I think they woke up this morning and they did everything we asked them to do.”

In the fifth inning with the score 4-0, Clayton led off the bottom half with a single up the middle, followed by Smith’s two-run blast over left field. With the score 6-0 and one out, Pamala Baber was hit by a pitch to reach first. Freshman Ilena Santos then singled to set up Valles’s clutch hit. And on the first pitch, Valles drove the ball to deep right that scored the game-winning runs.

Taylor Sargent put the Miners on the board first when she singled in Clayton in the first inning. The Miners then went up 4-0 during the third inning as Ariel Blair led off with the first of two hits on the day. Kaitlin Ryder plated Blair on a single to left, but was thrown out at second. Clayton singled for a second time and Smith reached on a fielder’s choice while following with a double steal to put the runners at second and third base. With Baber at the plate, she connected with a ball hit to the Lobos’ shortstop, but a throwing error paved the way for Court and Cort.

Cretz made her second start of the season, hurling 3.0 frames and striking out three and McKechnie tossed 2.0 innings and recorded a pair of Ks. It was the seventh no-hit effort in UTEP history, first since 2016 and first ever combined no-hitter.

The Miners registered 11 hits, as Blair and Smith each finished 2-for-3.

Clayton now has 188 career hits, moving up the fourth on the program’s all-time list. She also has 108 runs scored, moving to fifth on the all-time list.

UTEP will take on UNLV later today at 3:45 p.m. PT/4:45 MT.

Old Dominion Rally Sends Game into OT; Miners Fall 56-52

NORFOLK, Va.- UTEP held Old Dominion to 34 percent shooting and controlled the boards (43-31) but the home side got things going late to down the Miners, 56-52, in overtime Saturday afternoon.

The Miners (14-11, 5-7 C-USA) led by 13 (46-33) with 6:21 to play in regulation before the Monarchs (8-19, 6-17 C-USA) peeled off 10 consecutive points to cut the deficit to three with 54 seconds left. Faith Cook knocked down a pair of free throws to put UTEP up by five (48-43) but ODU got a 3-pointer, a steal, and then a lay-up to forge the first tie of the tilt (48-48) with 21 seconds remaining. Najala Howell’s jumper at the buzzer rimmed out to send the contest to overtime.

ODU scored the first five points of overtime to secure its initial lead of the game. The Miners got on the board with a pair of Howell free throws to get within three (53-50) but could get no closer the rest of the way.

After shooting 41.1 percent (14-34) over the first three quarters of play, UTEP was a combined 2-16 (12.5 percent) during the fourth quarter and overtime. The Miners also had eight of their 20 turnovers in that stretch, which afforded ODU the opportunity to rally back.

“I just feel bad for our team because I thought we played great for about three-and-a half quarters,” UTEP head coach Kevin Baker said. “We let the momentum and the crowd affect us late. We battled so hard; I love my team to death and deserved to win that game today.”

Tamara Seda posted her 12th double-double (11 points, 14 rebounds to lead the Miners. Cook (10 points, five assists) and Zuzaana Puc (10 points) hit double figures as well while Howell finished with nine points and 10 rebounds. Jordan Alexander added six points and nine boards.

Kelly Loftus came off the bench to pour in 22 points to lead the way for ODU while Victoria Morris added 11 points. MaKayla Timmons contributed seven points and a game-high eight assists.

The two sides traded triples on their respective opening possessions before the Miners ripped off 10 straight points to grab a 13-3 advantage with 3:43 to play in the first half. Cook hit a pair of 3-pointers in the sequence, while Puc (four points) and Zec (three points) also got involved. ODU halted it by splitting a pair of free throws and then knocking down a jumper to get within six (13-6) but the Miners scored the final four points of frame to secure a 17-6 lead through 10 minutes of action.

ODU tallied the first three points of the second quarter but the Miners ripped off seven consecutive points to surge ahead by 15 (24-9) with 6:19 left in the half. ODU blitzed back with a 6-0 run in a span of just 38 seconds to get the margin down to single digits (24-15). After UTEP extended the lead back to 14 (29-15), the Monarchs peeled off nine straight points over the next four minutes to climb within five (29-24). UTEP halted the surge while regaining some momentum with a traditional 3-point play from Seda to make it 32-24 UTEP heading to halftime.

UTEP had a quick start to the third quarter, extending its lead to 13 (37-24) just two minutes into the frame. The two sides went back-and-forth the rest of the period, allowing the Miners to carry an 11-point cushion (44-33) into the final period of play.

The defense by both squads stole the show early in the fourth quarter, with both teams going scoreless for more than three-and-a half minutes at the onset of the frame. Alexander ended the drought by knocking down a jump shot from the top of the key. UTEP then went cold while ODU found its rhythm to battle back in the eventual OT victory.

UTEP will return to action when it plays host to UTSA at 7 p.m. MST Friday.

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Miners Connect on Three Home Runs on Day One at Murucci Desert Classic

LAS VEGAS, Nv. – UTEP hit three home runs and turned another double play but it wasn’t enough as the Miners (1-6) fell to Nevada, 6-2, and Boise State, 8-2, on Friday during the first day of the Marucci Desert Classic.

UTEP will continue the weekend against New Mexico (11:15 a.m. PT) and host UNLV (3:45 p.m. PT) on Saturday. The Miners and Rebels will play at Eller Media Stadium.

UTEP 2, Nevada 6
Pamala Baber connected on her first home run of her sophomore campaign and Courtney Clayton tallied an RBI double, but Nevada, behind a strong pitching performance from freshman Julia Jensen, defeated UTEP, 6-2, in the early game on Friday.

Clayton now has 39 career doubles and now tied for third with Amber Bennett on the program’s all-time list.

Jensen threw a complete game, allowing two runs, walking five and striking out seven. The Wolf Pack offense was paced by Kenzi Goins and her five RBI. She finished 2-for-4 that included a two-run home run in the third inning.

With the score 6-0, Clayton put her squad on the board when she drove in pinch-runner Ariel Blair in the fifth inning. Blair pinch ran for freshman Ariana Valles, who singled up the middle. Blair stole second to put herself in scoring position. Following the run, Cortney Smith drew a walk as Clayton advanced to second, but the Miners couldn’t sustain more offense in the frame.

Baber blasted a solo home run over center it the sixth inning to make the score 6-2. The Miners had a pair of runners on in the bottom seventh after Kaitlin Ryder singled and Smith drew a walk, but Jensen struck out the final batter to end the contest.

Starting hurler Kira McKechnie (1-2) made the start, throwing 3.0 innings and striking out two, and Devyn Cretz finished the contest, tossing 4.0 frames. The two pitcher only combined for three walks in the contest.

UTEP 2, Boise State 8
Courtney Clayton and Cortney Smith each hit solo home runs, but the Broncos used a seven-run fifth inning to down the Miners.

After three scoreless frames and solid pitching from starters Julia Wright and Gianna Mancha, Clayton put her squad up 1-0 after connecting on a 1-2 pitch and drove it over left center in the top fourth. It was Clayton’s first home run of 2018 and 19th for her career as she now ranks seventh on UTEP’s all-time home run list.

In the bottom fourth, Boise State had runners on when Alison Seng reached on an error and Justene Molina singled with one out, Wright forced Makenzie Sullivan to hit into a double play (Clayton to Ariana Valles to Taylor Sargent) – UTEP’s sixth of 2018.

But the Broncos drew four walks, including one with bases to tie the game and Jessica McKay hit a grand slam to make the score 5-1 during the bottom fifth.

Smith finished 2-for-3 and Lindsey Sokoloski singled to lead off the seventh inning. Wright (0-2) threw 4.1 innings and struck out four Broncos in the process.

Miner Men’s Golf Shoots Low Round Two At John A. Burns Intercollegiate

Lihu’e, Kaua’i, HI – A low second round by the UTEP men’s golf team put them in 15th place out of 20 teams on day two of the John A. Burns Intercollegiate at the Wailua Golf Course (par 72/6,991 yards) in Lihu’e, Kaua’i, HI on Friday.

Four Miners fired rounds in the low-70s to turn in a round two of 3-over 291 for a total score of 14-over 590 (299-291) heading into the third and final round tomorrow. The field, which includes six teams ranked in the top-50 nationally, continues to be lead by No. 49 UNLV with its 21-under 555 (270-285) total. The tournament will conclude tomorrow with an 11 a.m. MST shotgun start.

“All in all, we had some guys play better today, just too many big mistakes,” head coach Scott Lieberwirth said. “It was an improvement on yesterday, Im pleased in that respect and hopefully we keep improving. It was clearly a better effort today.”

Senior Charles Corner remained under-par and at the top of the UTEP scorecard with his round of 71 for a 1-under 143 (72-71) total through two rounds. Corner remained in a seven-way tie for 26th and strung together six birdies in his run, including two consecutive birdies to both begin and end his play.

Fellow senior Nicklas Pihl jumped six spots on the leader board on Friday with his solid round of 73 to share a spot in 63rd with a 5-over 149 (76-73) total. Pihl notched two birdies and no bogeys to carry him into the final round.

An eagle on a Par 4 to open up his Friday play and two birdies helped boost junior Settavut Paradee 10 spots up in the field with his second round of 73. Paradee sits in a knot with teammate Aaron Terrazas in 78th place, both with tournament totals of 6-over 150. Terrazas shot a round of 76 on Friday, carding three birdies.

Not far behind, senior Prescott Mann pieced together a strong round of 74 that included four birdies to tie for 84th in the field. Mann will head into the final round with a 7-over 151 (77-74) total. UTEP individual Chad Ahn picked up two birdies and mirrored his round one score of 77 for a 10-over 154 (77-77) total.

Together, the Miners carded 26 birdies, 112 pars and one eagle.

The John A. Burns Intercollegiate will conclude tomorrow beginning with an 11 a.m. MST (8 a.m. HT) shotgun start. Live stats are available at www.golfstat.com.

Thomas’ Jumper, Last-Second Steal Seals Miner Victory over Charlotte 87-86

CHARLOTTE, N.C. – Paul Thomas hit the go-ahead jumper with 2.6 seconds left, and UTEP topped Charlotte 87-86 on Thursday at Halton Arena for its first road win of the season.

“We ran a little stagger for Isiah [Osborne] to come off, thinking that they would come to Isiah and Paul was going to slip towards the ball and sure enough, he got free and went strong to the basket,” UTEP Interim Head Coach Phil Johnson said.

The Miners (8-17, 3-10 C-USA) took a major step towards a berth in the Conference USA Championship in a wild basketball game. UTEP led by as many as 22 points in the first half, fell behind by seven with about six minutes to go, then rallied past the 49ers (5-19, 1-12 C-USA).

“It was a crazy game,” Johnson said. “They had a guy [Luka Vasic] that had made one three in conference play and he makes four tonight. They made their run by hitting threes and really, we were helping off those guys and not expecting it but they looked like Reggie Miller out there shooting the ball. They came back and when teams make a run at you, you get a little tight and that’s what happened. We just wanted to keep scoring and keep grinding and we had three or four big stops in the last two minutes.”

Both teams were hot from long range, as UTEP made 11-of-20 from beyond the arc and Charlotte was 14-for-24. But the Miners, 9-for-12 from three-point territory in the first half, cooled off to 2-for-8 over the final 20 minutes and Charlotte stayed hot throughout.

The Miners played about as well as can be in the first eight minutes, rolling out to a 29-7 lead. UTEP started 10-for-13 from the field, 5-for-5 from three-point range and 4-for-4 from the line.

Charlotte scored the next seven points – all from Andrien White — to get within 15 (29-14). But the Miners responded with an 11-4 spurt, including seven straight points by Paul Thomas, to match their largest lead of the half at 40-18.

After the 49ers closed the gap to 13 (42-29), Kobe Magee hit back-to-back triples off the bench to push the lead to 19. But Charlotte ended the period with a 16-5 run, and pulled within eight (53-45) at the break. Austin Ajukwa, averaging 7.8 points per game, scored 13 of the 49ers’ last 16 points in the half. He finished with a season-high 24, and scored 22 of Charlotte’s 32 points at the end of the first half and beginning of the second.

Jon Davis’ jumper with 15:24 remaining put Charlotte ahead 63-61, its first lead since 2-0. The next several minutes were nip and tuck until the 49ers gained some separation with a 9-3 run, ending with a three-pointer by Jaylan McGill and an 82-75 lead with 5:59 to go.

But the Miners persevered when the situation appeared dire.

“That’s my biggest challenge, to keep the guys relaxed and play hard and keep them competitive,” Johnson said. “I’m really proud of the team because we had a great practice last night and came and fought our butts off here today. It was a great basketball game. I give Charlotte credit. They played too. It was as hard fought of a game as we’ve seen this season.”

Charlotte scored four points in the final 5:58 with one field goal and the Miners went to work on the offensive end, outscoring the 49ers 12-4 and finally regaining the lead on Thomas’ game winner.

Evan Gilyard scored a career-high 22 points, and Osborne added 21 for the Miners. Thomas recorded his second straight double-double with 15 points and 11 rebounds.

“We started Evan tonight for two reasons,” Johnson said. “He was great in practice last night. But defensively on Davis, he did a pretty good job until he got in foul trouble. And Isiah, we’ve seen him in the past where he can really shoot it and drive it. We tried to get him more involved tonight.”

White scored 21 points for Charlotte and Davis had 12.

The Miners will continue their road trip at Old Dominion on Saturday. Tip-off is set for 5 p.m. MT, and the game will be streamed live on ESPN3.

Marshall Edges UTEP 66-64

HUNTINGTON, WV- Katarina Zec put up 20 points to go along with a career-high nine rebounds to pace a quartet of Miners in double figures but UTEP was edged, 66-64, at Marshall Thursday evening.

The Thundering Herd (8-17, 2-10 C-USA) led for 33 minutes of the contest, including being up four (63-59) with 1:30 to play in regulation.

Najala Howell came up with an offensive rebound and putback to make it a two-point tilt. The Miners (14-10, 5-6 C-USA) got a stop and had the ball with a chance to tie or take the lead, but Howell’s runner in the lane rimmed out.

Marshall connected on three straight free throws to go up by five (66-61) with nine seconds left. Zec drilled a 3-pointer to get the Miners within two (66-64) but they were unable to get a steal or force a jump ball on the ensuing in-bounds play as time expired.

UTEP shot a better percentage (22-49, 44.9 percent) than Marshall (24-55, 43.6 percent) and easily won the boards, 38-24, but it was done in by 19 turnovers that led to 18 Thundering Herd points.

“We didn’t put a good product on the floor tonight and weren’t ready to play,” UTEP head coach Kevin Baker said. “I’m disappointed with that. We just didn’t play well enough to win. We had opportunity after opportunity. It wasn’t our night.”

Howell (15 points), Tamara Seda (12 points, eight rebounds) and Jordan Alexander (11 points, five boards) buoyed the play of Zec but no one else on the team scored more than two points.

Marshall was led by Talequia Hamilton (22 points, seven rebounds) and Shayna Gore (20 points, four assists).

It was a sluggish start to the game for both squads with Marshall holding a 7-6 edge five-and-a half minutes into the contest. The Thundering Herd scored the next four points in the tilt to secure a five-point cushion (11-6) with 2:27 left in the frame. A lay-up by Zuzanna Puc followed by two free throws from Howell trimmed the deficit to one (11-10) but Marshall was able to reinstate a five-point margin (17-12) through 10 minutes of action.

The Miners utilized an 8-2 run over the first four minutes of the second quarter to take their first lead of the game (20-19) and prompt a timeout by the Thundering Herd. A triple by Zec, off a feed from Rachel Tapps, put UTEP up 23-21 with 5:14 left in the period. Marshall struck back, closing the stanza on a 7-2 push to put UTEP down three (28-25) heading to the locker room.

UTEP had a solid start to the third quarter, outscoring Marshall, 11-6, over the first four-and-a half minutes to secure a 36-34 advantage with 5:31 left in the frame. The Thundering Herd countered by unleashing a 9-0 run to put the Orange and Blue down seven (43-36) with 2:37 to play. Alexander put an end to that by splitting a pair of free throws before making a lay-up to get the Miners within four (43-39). A lay-up by Gore afforded Marshall a six-point edge (45-39) after three quarters of play.

The Miners received back-to-back baskets to make it a two-point game early in the fourth quarter but Marshall drilled a corner triple to push the margin to five (48-43) with 8:57 remaining in regulation. UTEP struck back with its own 5-0 run to tie the tilt at 48.

The two sides traded scores the next several minutes before consecutive turnovers by the Miners allowed Marshall to go up by five (62-57) with 2:57 to play. The Orange and Blue regrouped and eventually gave themselves the chance to tie or go back ahead but it wasn’t in the cards.

The Mines will now venture to play at Old Dominion at 12 p.m. MST/2 p.m. EST Saturday. Brandon Cohn will have the call of the game on 600 ESPN El Paso.


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UTEP Football Season Tickets Now on Sale

Season tickets for the 2018 UTEP football campaign can be purchased starting Thursday, February 15.

“We can’t wait to get started and we’re excited about putting a product on the field that Miner fans can be proud of,” said first-year UTEP head coach Dana Dimel. “We’ve got a great home schedule with I-10 rival NM State coming here, plus four C-USA bowl teams from a year ago in North Texas, UAB, Middle Tennessee and Southern Miss. Every person makes a difference! We hope you’ll help us fill up the Sun Bowl and get the stadium rocking again.”

Purchasing or renewing tickets has never been more convenient. Season tickets can be purchased online at utepathletics.com, by calling the UTEP Season Ticket Office at (915) 747-6150 or by e-mailing seasontickets@utep.edu.

Fans that secure their season tickets before April 30 will be able to see six Miner games for the price of five. Season tickets that are purchased prior to April 30 are available for as little as $55.

Five-month payment plans are available.

Fans who had season tickets last year will receive an e-mail with instructions on how to renew online. Fans who choose not to renew online will receive a hard copy invoice by mail in May. Fans are also welcome to come into the season ticket office to purchase their seats.

The Miners will host Northern Arizona (Sept. 1), NM State (Sept. 22), North Texas (Oct. 6), UAB (Oct. 27), Middle Tennessee (Nov. 10) and Southern Miss (Nov. 24) in 2018.

UTEP season tickets are available by clicking here. For more information please call (915) 747-6150. 

H-P Sports In Depth: UTEP Softball to Play Five Games in Vegas

The UTEP softball team will travel to Las Vegas, Nevada, to compete in the Marucci Desert Classic hosted by UNLV February 16-18.

The Miners (1-4) will open with Nevada on Friday (12:15 p.m. MT/11:15 a.m. PT) followed by a contest against Boise State at 2:30 p.m. MT/1:30 PT. Saturday’s slate features games against New Mexico (10 a.m. MT/9 PT) and host UNLV (4:45 p.m. MT/3:45 PT), while the weekend will conclude against South Dakota on Sunday (10 a.m. MT).

UTEP is coming off a 1-4 weekend at the Kajikawa Classic in Tempe (Az), February 9-11. Despite falling in four contests, the Miners defeated Saint Mary’s College, 7-0, behind solid pitching, hitting and defense on February 10.

The victory was the first in Tempe since Feb. 6, 2009 when UTEP defeated Kansas 3-1.

A few UTEP newcomers made immediate impacts as junior transfer pitcher Kira McKechnie won her first collegiate game during her first college start in the circle. Freshman Ilena Santos, who started all five games in left field, came up with a trio of hits in her first 11 at bats (.273) as her first collegiate hit was a solo home run against Saint Mary’s College.

Freshman Ariana Valles also saw her first collegiate action, starting all five games at short stop. Valles registered a pair of hits and scored a run, while, defensively, Valles recorded 10 putouts and 10 assists. Transfer junior pitcher Julia Wright led the staff with 14.1 innings hurled in two starts (four appearances).

UTEP will be the designated ‘home’ team against Nevada and the ‘away’ team versus Boise State. Both contests will be played at Stephanie Lynn Craig Park (SLC 2) on Friday, Feb. 16. UTEP will be the designated ‘home’ squad against New Mexico on Saturday at SLC 3. The later game versus host program UNLV will be played at Eller Media Stadium. Sunday’s finale will be played at SLC 3 as the Miners will be the ‘home’ team against South Dakota.

UTEP is 2-11 all-time versus Nevada. The Miners and Wolf Pack last met in Las Vegas on Feb. 18, 2017. Nevada used a five-run sixth to down UTEP, 6-1. Taylor Sargent gave the Miners an early 1-0 advantage on an RBI single during the first inning. The Miners last defeated the Wolf Pack on March 27, 2008, an 8-1 triumph at the Helen of Troy Softball Complex.

The Wolf Pack is coming off a tight 7-6 loss to Long Beach State to close out the Puerto Vallarta College Challenge, and posted a 2-3 record on their opening weekend at the tournament with wins over LA Tech by a score of 9-3 and 5-1, respectively. Nevada will meet with Bradley prior to its meeting with UTEP at the Desert Classic in Las Vegas, Nev. In five games, Nevada is ranked second in the Mountain West in batting with a .352 avg. that includes four home runs and 30 RBIs. In the circle, Nevada has a 4.88 ERA as a team, allowing 35 runs. Pacing the Pack at the plate is rookie shortstop Lauren Gutierrez, who has posted a .471 batting average in 17 at-bats including two RBIs and currently leads the conference in hits with eight, as well as Jessica Sellers, who has a .467 batting average in 15 at bats with seven hits, a double, a home run and four RBIs. Julia Jensen, another Nevada freshman, has two starts for her team and has pitched 11.2 innings thus far, notching a 1.80 ERA and a 1-1 record in the circle with seven strikeouts. In the pre-season poll, Nevada was picked to finish fifth in the Mountain West.

UTEP is 0-2 all-time against Boise State. The Miners and Broncos met last season in Las Vegas, Nev., on Feb. 19. The Broncos took down the Miners, 16-7, in a high-scoring affair. BSU took a commanding 10-0 lead heading to the middle of the third frame, but the Miners scored a pair of runs during the bottom half off a two-run, booming home run by Cortney Smith. Then, with the score 11-2, the Miners made things interesting when five runs were scored in the bottom fourth to get within four runs. But the high-powered Broncos’ offense scored three in the top fifth and another two runs in the top seventh. The two programs met each other for the first time on Feb. 15, 2014, also in Las Vegas, as BSU came out on top, 16-9, after a seven-run top seventh.

The Broncos are returning to action after a 9-1 loss against Stanford to cap off the Kajikawa Classic. Boise State ended its opening weekend with an even 3-3 record, with wins over South Dakota, Indiana and St. Mary’s. As a unit, the Broncos are third in the Mountain West in batting with a .335 batting average that includes 13 doubles, six home runs, and 31 RBI. Boise State has a 7.40 ERA through six games and 35 innings, and has given up 42 runs, but has also notched 158 catches and only 10 errors. The Broncos are led at the plate by junior infielder Rebekah Cervantes, who boasts a .533 average in 15 appearances at the plate with four doubles, one home run and six RBI. Fellow infielder Jessica McKay has put up similar numbers in 17 at bats, with a .471 hitting average to include two doubles, a home run and six RBIs and rookie Halle Harger leads the team in RBI with seven. In the circle, sophomore pitcher Micaela Leal leads the team with a 0.95 ERA in 7.1 innings pitched, while senior infielder Makenzie Sullivan mans fielding duties with 25 chances and no errors for a flawless fielding percentage.

The Lobos hold a 15-9 advantage over the Miners. The two programs played a doubleheader on March 8, 2017 in Albuquerque. UNM edged UTEP 7-6 in game one after UTEP was up 4-0, but the Orange and Blue rebounded to win game two, 7-4, as Courtney Clayton went 3-for-5 with an RBI and Kaitlin Ryder produced a 3-for-4, two-runs scored performance. Pamala Baber finished 2-for-2 with an RBI and scored four runs (tied for second on the program’s all-time single-game list).

The Lobos competed at the Kajikawa Classic in Tempe, Ariz., going 1-4 during the weekend. UNM defeated Saint Mary’s College, 4-1, on Feb. 9, and had a tough challenge as it faced four top 25 programs in no. 15 Utah (17-0), no. 21 Oklahoma State (13-1), no. 3 Oregon (14-1) and no. 7 Arizona (8-0). New Mexico is hitting .186 in its first five games, with a pair of home runs. UNM also posted a 12.96 ERA during opening weekend. Sam Oliver got off to a good start in her career as the freshman hit .600 (3-for-5) with a run scored and drawing two walks.

The Miners are 1-4 all-time against the Rebels. UTEP and UNLV last met on Feb. 17, 2017 at Eller Media Stadium. The Rebels scored five runs in the bottom fourth after the Miners led 3-2 in which Kiki Pepi scored a run off an error. The Miners defeated the Rebels 6-0 on Feb. 19, 2016 in Vegas.

The Rebels got off to a fast start, winning four of their first five contests of 2018. UNLV opened with victories against North Dakota State (3-2 [9]) and Creighton (4-2) on Feb. 9 at the Sportco Kick Off Classic in Las Vegas, Nev. The Rebels came up short against Big Ten program Minnesota (3-0), but came back to shutout Utah Valley (8-0 [5]) on Feb. 10. UNLV concluded the weekend with another shutout victory, this time against Southern Utah (3-0). Myranda Bueno hit .538 that included a team-best seven hits (13 at bats) and four runs scored. Janine Petmecky registered three RBI during the weekend. The pitching staff posted a 1.54 ERA as Charlie Masterson (2-0) threw a team-high 14.0 innings. Petmecky (1-0) hurled 9.1 frames with a staff-best eight strikeouts.

The Miners are 1-3 all-time against the Coyotes. The two programs faced each other three times in 2013 as the Coyotes won 6-1 on Feb. 17 and 5-3 on Feb. 24. UTEP got by South Dakota 3-2 on Feb. 23. With the score 2-0 in favor of South Dakota, the Miners, behind a two-run home run from Kawehiokalani Netane during a pinch-hit situation, scored three runs in the bottom sixth.

The Coyotes went winless (0-6) during opening weekend at the Kajikawa Classic in Tempe. South Dakota fell to Boise State (11-3), San Jose State (16-12), UC Davis (3-1), Notre Dame (9-6), Purdue (11-5 [5]) and Northwestern (13-5 [5]). USD hit .274 as a team, led by Taylor Steinfeldt’s .500 average (10-for-20). Alyssa Fernandez (.375) led the team in home runs (four) and RBI (eight). The pitching staff posted an 8.83 ERA in 35.2 innings. The staff walked 28 and struck out 11 batters.

The UTEP defense turned five more double plays this past weekend in Tempe. The Miners have turned 65 in their last 108 contests (.60 per game). Last season, UTEP turned 30 double played and ranked tied third nationally with .63 double plays turned per game (48 games). The defense turned a pair against Mizzou, the first was a 4-6-3 (Courtney Clayton to Ariana Valles to Taylor Sargent) in the third inning, while the second came during the sixth on a L7-4 putout (Ileana Santos fielded lineout, throw to Clayton). The Miners then turned two more against Saint Mary’s College as the first one was turned during the first frame on a L5-3 (lineout to Cortney Smith, throw to Sargent) and the second was another 4-6-3 putout. The Miners turned their fifth of the weekend against no. 3 Oregon on a F7-5 putout (fly out to Santos, throw to Smith) during the fifth inning.

The Miners connected on four home runs in the first five games of 2018 after not hitting one during the first five games of 2017. Senior Taylor Sargent got a hold of the team’s first dinger during the first inning against Saint Mary’s College. Sargent hit a two-run shot over left, while freshman Ilena Santos hit a solo shot in the second and senior Kaitlin Ryder a three-run bomb in the fourth frame. The team’s fourth long ball came off junior Cortney Smith’s bat, a three-run blast against UC Davis.

Junior Cortney Smith, a 2018 preseason All-Conference USA team honoree, hit .333 (4-12) during opening weekend at the Kajikawa Classic in Tempe, Ariz. Smith recorded four hits, four RBI, a double, hit a home run and drew two walks. The Miners defeated Saint Mary’s on Feb. 10, 7-0, as Smith recorded an RBI double in the fourth inning. Smith also connected on her first dinger of 2018, slamming a three-run bomb over center on a 0-1 pitch during the fifth inning that gave the Miners a 4-3 lead against UC Davis. Smith also registered a single against no. 3 Oregon. Defensively, she recorded seven putouts and 10 assists at third base. Smith, early on in 2018, leads the Miners with four RBI is tied for the team lead with four hits. She led the Miners with eight home runs and a .364 batting average in 2017.

Freshman Ilena Santos made such a good impression during the fall season that UTEP head coach Tobin Echo-Hawk started her in left field the first five games of the 2018 season. Santos, after going 0-for-3 versus Missouri on opening day, settled down against Saint Mary’s College and finished 2-for-3, reaching base three times. She started with a solo home run over right center in the second inning, drew a walk in the fourth and scored a run, and then singled in the seventh. Santos is hitting .273 (3-for-11) thus far with two walks, two runs and an RBI. Santos was also part of two of UTEP’s double plays turned during the weekend. Defensively, she recorded six putouts and two assists.

Junior transfer pitcher Kira McKechnie, after only tossing a total of 1.2 innings at Fresno State in three appearances over two seasons, finally made her first collegiate start in the circle on Feb. 10. The Sacramento, Calif., native responded with a solid outing against Saint Mary’s College. McKechnie tossed 4.1 frames, allowed only three hits and struck out a batter during a shut victory. She made two starts and three appearances early in her UTEP career, throwing 7.0 innings and allowing six hits.

Transfer junior pitcher Julia Wright made two starts and four appearances during her first weekend as a Miner. Wright transferred from Ranger College, where she started 68 games (36 wins) in her two seasons there. Wright made her first Division I start against SEC power Missouri and held her own in a 5.0-inning effort. Wright’s two runs allowed were unearned, while she struck out a pair of Tigers. Wright made her second start against UC Davis on Feb. 11. Wright leads the staff in innings (14.1) and K’s (six) early on in the season.

Freshman Ariana Valles was the other freshman to start all five games during opening weekend. Valles made five starts at short stop and responded with 10 assists (tied for team lead) and 10 putouts. Valles, an El Paso native who attended Chapin High School, also recorded her first collegiate hit, a single against Saint Mary’s College during the fourth inning, while also scoring a run. Valles also singled in the third inning against San Jose State. She’s hitting .286 (seven at bats) early in the season.

Junior Mariah Ellis’s bat got off to a strong start as she connected on four hits during 13 at bats (.308) during the first five games of 2018. Ellis’s first knock of the season was a hard-double hit to right center in the first inning against Saint Mary’s College, while following with a single in the fifth, setting a career high with two hits in the contest. Ellis came up with another solid hit, a single, as she drove a hard liner off no. 3 Oregon’s third baseman in the second inning. Ellis then singled against San Jose State during the second frame. Ellis started at five games at the designated player position.

Sophomore Pamala Baber registered four hits during the first five games of 2018. Baber tied her career best with a pair of singles on two at bats (second and fourth innings) against no. 3 Oregon. Baber’s first knock of the season came against Saint Mary’s College in seventh frame, while she also singled against UC Davis during the fourth inning. Baber is hitting .364 (11 at bats) with a walk. She started all five games in right field, recording eight putouts.

Senior Courtney Clayton started 2018 with a trio of hits in 14 at bats, three runs scored and an RBI. She also recorded eight putouts with nine assists from second base in five starts. Clayton now has 104 runs (ranks sixth in program history), needing four to move to fifth. Clayton’s 183 hits rank fifth and needs five to move up to fourth on the program’s all-time list. Clayton recorded an RBI over the weekend and now has 87 in her career, ranking eighth. She’s looking to be the eighth Miner to reach 100-plus RBI during a career at UTEP. Clayton now had 530 career at bats, moving to eighth on the program’s all-time list. Clayton now has 322 assists, moving up to third on the all-time list, and needing 10 to move to second.

Redshirt junior Linda Garcia, after missing all of 2017 due to injury, made her way back to the softball diamond in Tempe, Ariz. Garcia recorded three at bats in pinch hit situations (vs. Mizzou, no. 3 Oregon & UC Davis), while she also made an appearance behind the plate against San Jose State. Garcia tallied a putout against SJSU. Garcia’s last full season in 2016, she hit seven home runs and registered 20 RBI.

Senior Kaitlin Ryder connected on her first long ball of 2018, a three-run bomb against Saint Mary’s College that gave UTEP a 6-0 lead. Ryder also opened the campaign with a single against Mizzou. Ryder made all five starts in center field and hit leadoff. She finished with a pair of runs scored and also drew a walk. Ryder recorded six putouts and an assist, while getting a few innings in at catcher.

Senior Taylor Sargent connected on a two-run home run against Saint Mary’s College in the first inning on Feb. 10. It was her first long ball since going yard against North Texas on May 1, 2016. Sargent tallied three hits on opening weekend, that included knocks against Mizzou and San Jose State. Sargent started all five games at first base and played right field for a few innings. She recorded a team-high 30 putouts during the weekend.

RHINOS 728X90 FEB 23-25