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Sunday Slugfest! Miners Beat Blazers 16-13

The UTEP offense exploded as it won the series finale over UAB, 16-13, for its first Conference USA victory of 2018. The Miners (11-18, 1-5 C-USA) outslugged the Blazers (10-19-1, 3-2-1 C-USA) during an offensive onslaught during high winds at Helen of Troy Softball Complex on Sunday afternoon.

The UTEP offense came to life on Sunday as it amassed 14 hits, the second most knocks registered this season.

Kacey Duffield put her club ahead early on her second dinger of the season. Courtney Clayton produced two more hits, a run and RBI, while Ariana Valles registered a pair of RBI. Linda Garcia recorded a season-high three RBI on two hits, Kaitlin Ryder crossed the dish a career-high four times on a 3-for-4 effort and Mariah Ellis came up with a clutch three-run double to essentially clinch the win.

The Miner faithful witnessed a back-and-forth game in which the lead changed five times during the course of the contest. A total of 29 runs were scored, the most combined runs scored during a C-USA game this season.

“We picked a good game to start hitting the ball and [the team] was very resilient today,” fifth-year UTEP head coach Tobin Echo-Hawk said. “Yesterday broke their hearts a little bit, and they could’ve given up, but that’s not who this team is. They’re a bunch of fighters and even when it goes bad, they continue to go at it. I could not be prouder of this team.”

Sunday’s 16 runs in a league contest is the most since 2006 and the most in a C-USA game during the Echo-Hawk era.

The game three victory also halted a seven-game losing streak, while it was the first victory since shutting out East Carolina, 1-0, on March 4.

The hit parade started with a freshman Valles infield single that set up Duffield’s two-run home run to give her squad an early 2-0 advantage in the first frame. Duffield lifted a 1-1 pitch on a high-arching shot over center off UAB starter Emily Kachel. It’s Duffield’s second long ball in a UTEP uniform.

The Blazers, who were relentless all weekend, took a 3-2 lead in the second on a Sarah Crawford RBI double and a Natalie Erwin two-run home run.

The Miners answered with a pair of runs in the bottom half. Ryder led the home half off with a single pushed to center field, while advancing to second on a wild pitch and then to third on a Garcia groundout. Ilena Santos then drew a one-out walk and proceeded to steal second. Ariel Blair then reached on a bunt single to load the bases. Clayton tied the game 3-3 on a single lined up the middle that plated Ryder. Valles then gave the Miners a 4-3 lead on a sac-fly hit to center that brought Santos across the dish.

After a scoreless top third in which the Miners turned their 13th double play of the season and starting hurler Kira McKechnie struck out Molli Garcia, the bottom half saw five more runs scored in which a commanding 9-3 lead was on the board.

During the bottom third, Cortney Smith singled to left to leadoff, while Taylor Sargent reached on a fielder’s choice with Smith being safe at second. Ryder then sent a ball to deep right center in which Katlyn Sides dropped the routine out. The error scored Smith and Sargent, while a second error on the play by the catcher plated Ryder, giving the Miners a 7-3 lead. Garcia followed with a solo home run over left for an 8-3 lead, her second dinger of the season. After a pair of outs were tallied by UAB, Clayton drew a walk on a full-count pitch that set up another Valles RBI, this time off a hard double sent to center, giving her squad a 9-3 lead.

The scoring, however, did not end there.

After leadoff hitter Erwin grounded out and Destini England reached on a fielder’s choice for out number two, the Blazers lit up the scoreboard with eight runs with two outs during the top fourth on five hits to take a 11-9 lead. Rachel Rogers, Smith and Garcia each registered an RBI, while Crawford added two RBI during the big frame.

But as the Blazers fought, the Miners fought just little harder on Sunday.

“We gave up eight runs with two outs, again, we could’ve come back in and not done much with that,” Echo-Hawk said. “But we got runs back that inning and kept fighting.”

UTEP not only got the runs back, but took a 12-11 lead in the bottom fourth. Garcia sent a hard knock to right for a two-run double to tie the game and pinch runner (for Garcia) Brianna Hill scored on an error for the go-ahead lead. Hill got to third base on a passed ball earlier in the inning.

Bur for Garcia, it was another clutch, league-game hit as she has come up with big knocks during her three-years plus in a UTEP uniform.

“She’s is a feisty kid that I think is always trying to prove something,” Echo-Hawk said of Linda Garcia who missed all of 2017 due to a torn ACL. “She’s got a fiery personality and I keep telling her that’s what we’re missing behind the plate. This weekend, she made tremendous strides both offensively and defensively. She’s right where we need her to be.”

After Rogers led off the fifth with a walk, reliever Allie Johnson forced Rogers out at second as Smith reached on a fielder’s choice. Crawford and Garcia then flied out to Blair in center during back-to-back at bats to end the top half.

The bottom half saw the Miners load the bases as Duffield was hit by a pitch to lead off. Sargent drew a one-out walk to put a pair of runners on, while Ryder singled to center. With two outs and Pamala Baber at bat during a pinch-hit opportunity, UAB pitcher Claire Blount threw a wild pitch that paved the way for Duffield to score, giving the Miners a slim 13-11 edge. Baber followed by being patient and drawing a walk to set up Ellis’s pinch-hit opportunity with bases juiced. Ellis came up with a hard liner on a 2-1 pitch hit to left center, clearing the bases and putting the Orange and Blue in front of UAB 16-11.

The Blazers scratched out two more runs in the top seventh as Katelyn Prater led off with a walk, and Analyse Petree and Rogers connected on back-to-back doubles. Julia Wright was then inserted with a runner on, and forced Smith to fly out to right field, while Crawford and Garcia both grounded out to end the weekend series.

Johnson (1-0), during her seventh appearance of the 2018 season, won her first collegiate contest. The sophomore tossed 2.1 innings to earn the victory. Wright threw an inning to earn her league-leading third save of the season and McKechnie made the start, throwing 3.2 innings with four K’s.

“Allie came in and did a great job keeping those hitters off balance and that helps her confidence that we need from her,” Echo-Hawk said. “She’s probably got the best spin of all our pitchers and continues to work hard.”

Clayton Quick Notes
Courtney Clayton came up with an RBI, giving her 100 in her career. She’s the eighth Miner to accomplish the feat. Clayton also scored a run during Sunday’s contest, as she now has 122. Clayton’s two hits on Sunday also gives the senior 215, four behind Chelsea Troupe, who ranks second on the list. Clayton is three assists from tying Amber Bennett for no. 1 on the program’s all-time list.

Up Next
UTEP will travel to Hattiesburg, Miss., to take on Southern Miss (11-20, 1-5 C-USA). The March 24 doubleheader is slated for a noon MT start/1 p.m. CST, while Sunday’s series finale is set for noon MT.

UAB Takes Doubleheader from UTEP Saturday 11-0, 8-6

The UTEP softball team fell in a pair of contests to UAB, as the Blazers won game one, 11-0 [5]. The Miners (10-18, 0-5 Conference USA) looked to rebound as they went up 4-0 early in game two, but UAB (10-18-1, 3-1-1 C-USA) used a five-run seventh to take the Saturday series, 8-6, at the Helen of Troy Softball Complex in the C-USA home opener.

UTEP 0, UAB 11 [5]

The Blazers tallied 14 hits and Emily Kachel threw 4  innings with four strikeouts to earn the victory.

The Miners got hits from Cortney Smith and Ariana Valles. Valles registered her fifth double during the third inning, while Smith singled in the fourth.


The Miners scored four early runs to take the early advantage. Courtney Clayton led off with a double and Lindsey Sokoloski reached on an error. Kacey Duffield put her squad up 1-0 with an RBI single hit to left that plated Clayton.

With the score 1-0 and two outs on the board, Linda Garcia connected on a 1-1 pitch and sent it over left field that scored Sokoloski and Duffield. Garcia’s double hit the top of the fence and was inches from leaving the ball park for a three-run shot.

The Miners took the 4-0 lead in the second inning after an error allowed Valles to score.

From there, UAB chipped away at the lead. The Blazers got their first run during the fifth on a Rachel Rogers sac-fly hit to right.

UTEP, however, got the run back in the bottom fifth on a Smith loaded-bases walk and RBI that scored Taylor Sargent to make the score 5-1.

But the Blazers kept fighting and cut the deficit to 5-3 in the sixth inning. Megan Smith connected on a solo home run and a Destini England RBI single.

The seventh inning then saw UAB take an 8-5 lead as all five runs were scored with two outs. UTEP came within two runs on a Clayton RBI single, but Kachel (8-7) limited UTEP’s offense during her appearance to earn her second win of the day.

Kira McKechnie got the start, as she tossed 6.1 frames and struck out a trio of Blazers. Wright (2-9) took the loss as she threw 2/3 of an inning and recorded a K.

The Miners recorded nine hits, led by Clayton’s 4-for-4 effort. Sargent, Smith, Duffield, Garcia and McKechnie connected on the other knocks.

For Clayton, she now has 63 multi-hit games, ranking tied for second with Chelsea Troupe on the program’s all-time list. After Clayton’s four hits, she now has 213, ranking third on the program’s all-time list and six behind Troupe. Clayton tallied two more doubles in game two, giving the senior 45 in her career and ranking third behind Troupe (48).

Clayton now has 99 RBI, needing one to be the eighth Miner to enter the 100-club, while her 121 runs rank fifth behind Stacie Townsend (145). Clayton also has 355 assists, ranking second on the all-time list behind Amber Bennett (360).

Up Next

The series finale between UAB and UTEP is Sunday with a noon start at the Helen of Troy Softball Complex. Tickets are $5 adults, $3 for children, while Sunday’s give-a-ways are hats and UTEP freshmen trading cards.

UTEP Softball Set to Host UAB in C-USA Home Opener March 17-18

The UTEP softball team will play at home for the first time since February 25 as it hosts Conference USA West Division foe UAB March 17-18.

The Miners (10-16, 0-3 C-USA) and Blazers (8-18-1, 1-1-1 C-USA) will open the three-game series on Saturday in a doubleheader starting at 2 p.m. The series finale will be played on Sunday at Noon at the Helen of Troy Softball Complex.

UTEP is coming off a sweep at Florida Atlantic March 12-13. The Miners played the Owls tough in game one, falling short 2-1 in the series opener on Monday afternoon in Boca Raton. The Owls won game two, 6-0, and game three 8-0 [5]. UAB split its first two games against Marshall on March 10, winning game one, 2-1, falling 9-6 in game two and tying game three 1-1 on Sunday.

Overall, UTEP played four contests at FAU Softball Stadium as it opened with Rutgers on March 11. The Miners’ first two scheduled games against Stony Brook and LIU Brooklyn on March 10 were cancelled due to heavy rain fall. Kacey Duffield led the squad with a .364 batting average, while pacing the team with four hits, including a pair of doubles.

Courtney Clayton connected on career home runs 21 and 22 during the weekend-early week slate, as she hit a solo shot against Rutgers and another against FAU on Monday. Julia Wright gave the Miners a solid outing on Monday as she tossed 7.2 innings, while striking out six Owls. Overall, Wright hurled 11.2 frames with eight K’s. Ariel Blair came up with a 3-for-4 performance, tying her career high in hits against Rutgers.

Last season, UAB took UTEP down in three games, while the Blazers’ last trip to the Sun City was in 2016.

The Miners are 9-24 versus the Blazers after being swept last season in Birmingham, Ala. The two programs last met on April 30, 2017 as the Miners fell 5-0 in five innings (rain). UTEP played UAB tough in the first two games, falling short 3-1 and 3-0 on April 29. The Blazers have won 12 consecutive games against the Miners. The last UTEP victory came on April 22, 2012, a 7-0 win at Helen of Troy Softball Complex.

UAB picked up their first tie in program history after finishing 1-1 against Marshall. The Blazers are 8-18-1 overall and 1-1-1 in Conference USA play. The Blazers are hitting .248, ranking ninth in the league. Leading the team in hitting is sophomore Destini England with a .363 average, who was left standing in the batter’s box before the game was called to a tie. Leading the team in home runs is Analyse Petree with four, which also ranks fourth in conference. The team ERA is 3.73, which is also ranked ninth in the league. Freshman and past C-USA pitcher of the week Emily Kachel (6-7) is the top pitcher for the Blazers with a 2.65 ERA, 87.1 innings pitched and 60 strikeouts. Sophomore Claire Blount has been solid with 77.1 innings played and 54 strikeouts.

UTEP leads Conference USA with 12 double plays turned, while also pacing the league at .46 per game and ranking in the top 35 nationally in DP’s turned per game. The Miners turned its 12th double at Florida Atlantic on March 13 during the second inning. The Miners started the season by turning a pair against Missouri in the season opener and another two DP’s during their victory against Saint Mary’s College the next day. Overall, UTEP has turned 72 during its last 128 games (.56/game).

UTEP’s .278 team batting average ranks fourth in Conference USA behind Marshall (.282), WKU (.305) and Middle Tennessee (.323). UTEP’s 96 runs ranks sixth behind FAU (101). UTEP’s 186 hits ranks sixth behind UAB (187). UTEP’s six triples are tied for second with UAB and ranks behind WKU (10). UTEP’s 17 home runs rank second behind North Texas (29), while its 90 RBI ranks fifth behind Southern Miss (94). UTEP’s .412 slugging percentage ranks fourth behind MT (.428).

Courtney Clayton has struck out zero times in 78 at bats, ranking first in Conference USA. Nationally, Clayton is one of 12 players not to go down swinging or looking. Brittney Roby of UNI leads overall with 81 at bats, while Patricia Griffin of LIU Brooklyn has 79 at bats. Sacramento State’s Zamari Hinton’s 68 at bats is ranked behind Clayton.

Courtney Clayton connected on a pair of home runs while in Boca Raton this past weekend. She now has 22 in her career, ranking tied for sixth with Amber Bennett on the program’s all-time top-10 list. Clayton blasted a solo shot against Rutgers on March 11 and another against Florida Atlantic on March 12. Kewehiokalani Netane ranks fifth with 23 and Simone Holland ranks fourth with 25.

Courtney Clayton registered two more RBI this past weekend in Boca Raton and has 98 now in her career. Clayton ranks eighth and is trying to become the eighth Miner in UTEP history to hit 100 or more RBI during a career. Kiki Pepi ranks (103 RBI) ranks seventh and Ashley Ellis (105) ranks sixth.

Courtney Clayton looks to have returned to her 2016 form as she leads the Miners and ranks 11th in Conference USA with a .372 average. Her four home runs lead the squad and is ranked tied for fourth with four other players in C-USA. Clayton leads the team with 19 runs scored and is ranked tied for fifth with three other players in C-USA. Clayton’s 29 hits rank eighth in C-USA as two other players also have 29 hits. Clayton ranks tied for fifth with six other players with two triples.

Julia Wright tossed a career-high 7.2 innings and tallied six K’s against Florida Atlantic in game one to open Conference USA action. Wright had actually not allowed a hit through 5.2 innings versus the Owls. Wright leads the Miners in ERA (4.47), innings pitched (56.1) and K’s (46). Wright also ranks 10th with her 46 K’s.

Kacey Duffield hit .364 in four games started in Boca Raton this past weekend. Duffield also recorded a pair of doubles. Duffield has started the last eight games at first base and, overall, is hitting .269 on the season with a home run and five RBI. Duffield is also tied for second on the team with four doubles on the season.

Defensively, she’s recorded 69 putouts and four assists. Duffield tied her career high with a pair of hits against Rutgers on March 10. Duffield has also registered multiple hits against UNLV (Feb. 17) and Portland State (Feb. 25). Duffield hit her first Division I home run at Hawai’i on March 4.

Ariel Blair tied her career high in hits with a 3-for-4 outing against Rutgers on March 10. Blair first registered a trio of knocks during a single game against Grand Canyon in 2016 and matched that number against Virginia in 2017. On the season, Blair is hitting .333 (19-57) with a double and a RBI. Blair leads the Miners with six stolen bases on six attempts.

FAU Pulls Away Late from UTEP, Owls Win 8-0

BOCA RATON, Fla. – Florida Atlantic (15-13, 3-0 C-USA) pulled away late to down UTEP (10-16, 0-3 Conference USA) 8-0 [5] on Tuesday afternoon at FAU Softball Stadium.

The Owls went up 2-0 early in the first inning when Tatum Buckley drove in two runs on a one-out double hit to left center. Samantha Lageyre singled and Emily Lochten drew a walk to set up Buckley’s RBI opportunity.

Lageyre gave the Owls a 3-0 lead in the fourth.

 FAU starting pitcher kept UTEP’s bats silent until the fifth inning when pinch-hitter Lindsey Sokoloski and Pamala Baber used back-to-back singles to put runners on board with the score 3-0. Ilena Santos then advanced her teammates with a sac-bunt to put the runners in scoring position, but the Miners couldn’t sustain more offense to put runs on the board.

Kelsey Morrison put the game away with a three-run home run during the fifth and Lochten drove in the game-winning runs on a single.

***Monday Night’s Games:

Courtney Clayton hit a solo home run in the first inning and Julia Wright allowed no hits through 5.2 innings, but Florida Atlantic rallied to get by UTEP, 2-1, in game one. The Owls (14-13, 2-0 Conference USA) then used a five-run third to defeat the Miners (10-15, 0-2 C-USA), 6-0, in the second game in the C-USA opener at FAU Softball Stadium on Monday night.


Clayton gave her squad an early 1-0 lead when she connected on a first-pitch toss and sent a high-arching shot over left. It was her fourth dinger of the season and her 22nd of her career to rank tied sixth with Amber Bennett on the program’s all-time list. Clayton is also two RBI from reaching 100 in her career.

Wright pitched a solid outing, as the junior didn’t allow a hit through 5.2 innings. Wright retired the first nine batters before leadoff hitter Madison Palmer drew a walk to leadoff the fourth inning. But Wright would retire the next three Owls to keep the score 1-0.

FAU’s rally started when Emily Lochten doubled with two outs in the sixth inning after Wright had retired Palmer and Samantha Lageyre. But Lochten’s double came by way of high winds whipping through the ball park as she hit what looked like was going to deep centerfield. But the winds pulled the ball back into shallow territory, making it difficult of Ariel Blair to make the diving out.

The inning then continued when Tatum Buckley and Mia Olson drew back-to-back walks to load the bases. The Owls tied the score 1-1 when Alex Miller drove Lochten home with a single hit to left. However, the pinch runner Sami Williams at third was thrown out at home to end the inning.

After a scoreless seventh, Buckley doubled with two outs and Olson singled to put runners at the corners in the eighth. Miller then came up with a walk-off single to down the Miners.

UTEP tallied four hits as Kacey Duffield (seventh inning), Arianna Valles (second) and Lindsey Sokoloski (eighth) each connected on knocks. For Duffield, it was her fourth double of the season.

Wright (2-6) threw 7.2 innings with six hits allowed, struck out six and walked five in a losing effort.


Florida Atlantic scored five runs during the third inning to put UTEP away early. The Owls drew five walks during the frame.

The Miners produced six hits to FAU’s four. Cortney Smith went 2-for-3 for her first multi-hit game since Feb. 23. Ariel Blair, Clayton, Ryder and Duffield tallied the other hits. For Clayton, it was her 43rd career double and 209th career hit.

Starting pitcher Kira McKechnie (6-5) struck out four in 2.1 innings, while Allie Johnson threw 2.2 frames, allowing only one hit and fanning a pair and Devyn Cretz recorded three K’s in 1.0 inning of work.


Up Next

UTEP will host its first Conference USA series March 17-18, as UAB (8-18-1, 1-1-1)​

Rutgers Defeats UTEP 7-2

BOCA RATON, Fl. – The UTEP softball team fell 7-2 to Rutgers on Sunday afternoon at FAU Softball Stadium.

The Scarlett Knights (11-11) scored six runs in the first inning to pull away early from the Miners (10-13).

UTEP connected on 10 hits, as Linda Garcia’s pinch-hit at bat in the fifth scored Ariel Blair to put the Miners on the board. Courtney Clayton then got the Miners within five runs after the senior hit her third home run of the season in the top seventh. Clayton now has 21 dingers in her career, ranking seventh and one behind Amber Bennett’s 22 long balls.

Blair finished 3-for-4, while Kacey Duffield (2-3) and Kaitlin Ryder (2-4) each produced a pair of hits. Duffield connected on her third double of the season during the sixth. Ilena Santos (second inning) and Lindsey Sokoloski (fifth) also singled.

The UTEP relief pitchers kept the Scarlet Knights’ bats in check. Devyn Cretz threw 2.0 frames, while tallying a pair of K’s and no walks. Allie Johnson tossed 2.0 innings, allowing no hits and striking out a batter, and Julia Wright pitched an inning with a K. The three hurlers allowed a combined one run and three hits.

The Miners loaded the bases in the fifth and crossed the dish, but couldn’t sustain more offense.

Up Next
UTEP will open Conference USA action when it takes on Florida Atlantic on Monday, March 12 in a doubleheader starting at 2 p.m. MT/4 ET. The series finale between the Miners and Owls will be played on Tuesday at 10 a.m. MT/Noon ET.

UTEP Softball to Compete at FAU Tournament, Open C-USA Play

The UTEP softball program play six total contests in Boca Raton, Fla., March 10-13 as the Miners will play three games at the FAU Parents’ Weekend Tournament and are slated to open Conference USA action at Florida Atlantic.

UTEP (10-12) will open the weekend on March 10 against Stony Brook (4-6) at 4 p.m. MST and LIU Brooklyn (6-13) at 6:15 p.m., and will conclude the tournament against Rutgers (9-9) at 1:45 p.m. on March 11. The Miners will open C-USA play against Florida Atlantic (11-10) on March 12 at 2 p.m. in the doubleheader (game two will follow about 25 minutes after) and will end the road trip with a game three contest at 10 a.m. on March 13.

The Miners are coming off a six-game set in Hawai’i March 1-4.

UTEP defeated East Carolina, 1-0, behind Pamala Baber’s RBI double that plated Cortney Smith during the fourth inning and Kira McKechnie’s complete-game winning effort on the final day of the Texaco Malihini Kipa Aloha Tournament. The victory was the first for the UTEP softball program in the state of Hawai’i.

Though the Miners’ bats struggled, the pitching staff showed signs of improvement after its opponents hit .265, while sophomore Allie Johnson threw a solid 6.0 innings in three appearances and Kira McKechnie improved to 6-3 after a career-high five K’s during the victory against ECU. McKechnie also recorded 14 strikeouts in 20.0 innings of work.

Junior Kacey Duffield also got a hold of her first home run in a UTEP uniform, a two-run shot against Hawai’i (March 4) that tied the contest 2-2 in the fourth inning.

Courtney Clayton was named to the Texas Malihini Aloha Kipa Aloha All-Tournament team after hitting .368 with a double, no strikeouts, while tallying 12 putouts and nine assist.

The March 10 contest will mark the first between the two programs.

The Seawolves dropped to 4-6 after a pair of losses, the first to UC Riverside, 4-1, on March 3 and the second a 7-1 loss to Saint Mary’s the next day. Stony Brook is hitting .275 and has been outscored 39-30. Taylor Pechin leads the team with a .429 batting average, while connecting on the team’s only home run. Pechin’s five RBI also paces the squad.

Riley Craig is ranked second with a .391 average. Nicole McCarvill leads the team with five stolen bases and is hitting .296. The team ERA is 4.57, while Melissa Rahrich (2-2) leads the staff in wins, innings pitched (31.1) and K’s (17). Pechin (1-2) has tossed 21.0 frames.

The March 10 contest will mark the first between the two programs.

The Blackbirds have upped their record to 6-13 after a pair of victories, the first during a 7-6 win against Eastern Michigan on March 3 and the second a 6-1 win against Northern Kentucky on March 4. The team is hitting .269 and has been outscored 122-76. The Blackbirds have combined for six home runs.

Ryleigh Bermea leads the team in home runs (three) and RBI (14), while ranking second in hitting (.357). Nereyda Gutierrez paces the team with a .381 batting average, while hitting a home run and tallying seven RBI. Evie Claussell (.250 avg.) and Emily Collins (.200 avg.) have each hit a home run for LIU. The staff ERA is 5.96, while Erynn Sobieski (3-5) leads the team in wins. Victoria Lowe (2-3) has won a pair of contests and leads the staff in innings pitched (46.2) and K’s (27).

The March 11 contest will mark the first between the two programs.

The Scarlet Knights are coming off an 8-2 win over North Dakota at the Pirate Invitational at Hampton last weekend to even up their record at 9-9, and will meet with Stony Brook, Pittsburg and Florida A&M prior to its Sunday battle with the Miners. The Scarlet Knights lead all Division I teams in turning double plays at 0.89 per contest, posting 16 in 18 games. First baseman Rebecca Hall leads the charge with 12, while Hall has also been hot at the plate with a .467 avg. in 60 at-bats to lead the team and the Big Ten Conference.

The senior leads both the team and conference in hits with 28, RBIs with 24, triples with five and total bases with 53. Hall has also notched three home runs, six doubles, and five triples with a .883 slugging percentage through 18 games, and also leads the team in fielding with 120 catches. In the circle, Cambria Keefer has manned pitching duties with a team-best 2.07 ERA in 44.0 innings and a 4-3 record helped by her 16 strikeouts.

As a unit, the Scarlet Knights are hitting .246 to include 15 doubles, seven triples, and 10 home runs, while accumulating a 3.71 ERA in 120.2 innings pitched with 51 strike outs.

The Miners are 1-5 all-time against the Owls, but won their last meeting. UTEP came out on top 6-4 on May 7, 2017 on Senior Day at the Helen of Troy Softball Complex. The Miners scored three runs in the third inning to take an early 3-0 advantage. The inning started with a pinch-hit single from Taylor Grohmann with a runner on and two outs.

After Cortney Smith was hit by a pitch to load the bases, Kiki Pepi came up with a two-run single. Erika Harrawood made the start, throwing 3.1 inning and striking out three, Grohmann got the win, while Kaitlin Fifield earned the save, tossing 2.2 innings.

The Owls dropped to 11-10 after two losses at no. 10 LSU. The first was a 6-1 setback on March 3 and the second a 5-1 loss on March 4. FAU is 2-4 in its last six games after a 9-6 start to the season. The Owls are hitting .241, ranking on the bottom half of Conference USA and has been outscored 78-73.

All-C-USA performer Emily Lochten is hitting .311 (19-61) with a team-leading four home runs and 19 runs scored. Madisyn Palmer leads the Owls in hitting (.391) and stolen bases (20-22), while gathering 12 RBI. Tatum Buckley, despite hitting .191, leads the team with 15 RBI and has connected on two home runs. The team ERA is 2.81, which ranks in the top of the league. Buckley (7-3) leads the staff in wins, ERA (1.64), innings (64.0) and strikeouts (44). She’s also only walked nine batters. Mia Olson (4-4) has been solid, fashioning a 3.10 ERA in 58.2 innings and has tallied 29 K’s with 20 walks.

UTEP recorded another double play of the season when it turned its 10th at Hawai’i on March 3. The Miners lead Conference USA in the DP’s department, while ranking in the top 50 nationally at .45 double plays turned per game. UTEP’s March 11 opponent Rutgers leads the nation at .89 per game and 16 total DP’s turned.

UTEP leads Conference USA with 12 caught stealing attempts, while Kaitlin Ryder is ranked tied for second in C-USA by catching nine trying to snag bags.

UTEP is ranked second in Conference USA with its 87 RBI behind WKU (100). The Miners have also gathered 164 hits, ranking second most in C-USA behind WKU (185). UTEP’s six triples is ranked second in C-USA behind WKU (eight).

UTEP is one of three Conference USA programs hitting .290 or better, ranking third with its .290 batting average behind Middle Tennessee (.321) and WKU (.314). It’s not an uncommon thing to see a Tobin Echo-Hawk team hit for a high average as the Miners are hitting .297 into her fifth year as head coach. Courtney Clayton ranks ninth in the C-USA in batting (.382), Pamala Baber ranks 12th (.377) and Ariel Blair ranks 18th (.356).

UTEP ranks third in Conference USA with its 15 dingers behind North Texas (24) and UTSA (16). The Miners are nine away from matching last year’s total of 24 home runs.

UTEP has scored 93 runs, ranking fourth in Conference USA behind WKU (118), Southern Miss (101) and Middle Tennessee (100), while its tied for fourth with 22 doubles behind WKU (37), UAB (29) and Southern Miss (25). Middle Tennessee and Marshall are the other two schools with 22 doubles. UTEP’s 243 total bases are tied with MT for second in conference, while its slugging (.429) ranks third.

Kira McKechnie won her staff-leading sixth game after she hurled a career-high 7.0 innings and posting a career-best five K’s during a 1-0 win against East Carolina in Hawai’i.

The junior transfer has been part of four UTEP shutouts. She pitched a pair of complete-game shutouts, the first against Idaho State during a 9-0 win on Feb. 24, while the second was a 7.0-inning effort during a win against ECU. It’s tied for fifth most shutouts during a single season in program history. She was also part of UTEP’s 8-0 no-hitter versus New Mexico and earned her first collegiate win during a 7-0 victory against Saint Mary’s College on Feb. 10.

UTEP has shutout four team thus far in 2018, the first was a 7-0 victory against Saint Mary’s College (Feb. 10), the second was an 8-0 no-hit triumph against New Mexico (Feb. 17), the third was a 9-0 win against Idaho State (Feb. 24) while the fourth was a recent 1-0 victory against East Carolina (March 4). The Miners’ four shutout wins are the most since nine shutouts were chalked up in 2010.

The 2005 and 2008 teams pitched eight shutouts, while the 2007 squad posted seven shutout wins. The 2006 team tallied four. The four shutouts also surpass the three posted in 2016 during the Tobin Echo-Hawk era.

Sophomore Allie Johnson hit her spots in Hawai’i as she threw 6.0 innings during the weekend and fashioning a 1.17 ERA in the process during three relief appearances. In fact, Johnson lowered her ERA from 21.00 to a 4.00. It was started when she tossed a career-high 5.0 innings against no. 15 Cal, while also tallying a career-best three K’s and allowing only two 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.

Courtney Clayton, who was named to the Texas Malihini Aloha Kipa Aloha All-Tournament team after hitting .368, leads the Miners with a .382 batting average, while also pacing the squad in hits (26), runs (17), slugging (.588) and total bases (40), and is tied for the team lead in doubles (four) and at bats (68).

Courtney Clayton, who’s started all her games in the infield during her career, made her first start in the outfield playing in left against East Carolina and at Hawai’i on March 4. She tallied six total putouts (three each game) in the pair of starts in left.

Freshman Ilena Santos, who started the first 19 games in left field, made a pair of start at second base against East Carolina and at Hawai’i on March 4. Santos came up with a season-high four assists against ECU during UTEP’s tight 1-0 win, including the final out to clinch the win.

UTEP Softball Program Wins First-Ever Contest in Hawai’i

HONOLULU, Hawai’i – The UTEP softball split its two contests, shutting out East Carolina, 1-0, and falling to Hawai’i, 6-2, on Sunday on the final day of the Texaco Malihini Kipa Aloha Tournament at Rainbow Wahine Softball Stadium.

The Miners (10-12), however, did end their four-game losing streak with the 1-0 triumph over ECU and ended their 13-game losing streak in the state of Hawai’i in the process.

UTEP 1 – ECU 0
UTEP softball program won its first ever game in the state of Hawai’i after shutting out East Carolina 1-0 behind starting hurler Kira McKechnie’s (6-3) complete-game effort during the first game on Sunday afternoon.

McKechnie, after tallying a career-high four K’s on Saturday night, upped her career best to five K’s against the Pirates and allowed only two hits, while walking five. The junior transfer threw her second complete game of the season and posted her fourth shutout and third overall complete-game goose egg.

The Miners got on the board with their lone score in the fourth frame on a Pamala Baber double that plated Cortney Smith for an early 1-0 edge. Smith used a two-out single to reach, while Baber followed with her knock.

McKechnie also received a superb defensive effort from her teammates as Ilena Santos recorded a career-high four assists, including the final out of the contest, in her first start at second base. Fellow freshman shortstop Ariana Valles recorded three putouts and two assists. Courtney Clayton made her first ever start in in the outfield, playing in left, and tallying three putouts, including one to end the top first in which she took great strides forward to make the snag in shallow territory. Kaitlin Ryder made the start behind the dish, registering six putouts and a caught stealing.

The Pirates made things interesting in the top seventh when two batters drew walks and eventually put runners at the corners with two outs, but McKechnie forced Tyler King to groundout to Santos. Ryder recorded the first out on a heads-up play to make an out in foul territory on a pop out.

Clayton and Ryder each added a knock. Clayton doubled in the first inning, her 42nd career double and 205th career hit.

UTEP 2 – UH 6
The Rainbow Wahine received their first run during the first inning as runners were at the corners and completed a double steal.

Kallee Heen, who homered against UTEP on Saturday, registered a RBI on a double with a pair of outs and advanced a runner to third, but Heather Cameron popped out to stop more offense.

With the score 2-0, Kacey Duffield picked a great time to hit her first home run in a UTEP uniform. Duffield got a hold of a 1-1 pitch with Smith on and sent it over left center. Smith had reached on a walk; while it was Duffield’s first Division I long ball.

But Heen struck again during the fifth when she connected on a two-run home run and Danielle Garcielita tallied a two-run single with bases loaded to make the score 6-2.

The Miners got back-to-back one-out singles from Santos and Valles, but couldn’t produce more hits to score the runners.

Clayton registered her 206th career hit, while Duffield finished 1-for-3 with two RBI.

Starting hurler Devyn Cretz, who made her seventh start in 2018, went a solid 3.0 frames, walking none and striking out Britnee Rossi looking in the second inning to leave a runner stranded.

Up Next
UTEP will play six games in Boca Raton, Fla., the first three against Stony Brook and Long Island (March 10), and Rutgers (March 11). The Miners will then open Conference USA action against Florida Atlantic March 12-13.

James Madison Uses Late Surge to get by UTEP 6-0

HONOLULU, Hawai’i – The UTEP softball team played [RV] James Madison tight until the Dukes scored their six runs during the fifth and sixth innings, as the Miners (9-10) fell 6-0 on Friday afternoon in the Texaco Malihini Kipa Aloha Tournament at Rainbow Wahine Softball Stadium.

After four and half scoreless innings, James Madison (11-2) got on the board first with one out when starting pitcher Odicci Alexander connected on a hard single to center field, plating Madison Naujokas, who led off the bottom fifth with a walk. Kate Gordon followed with a single of her own that scored Cambry Arnold, who reached on a single.

But after JMU loaded the bases in the fifth, starting UTEP pitcher Kira McKechnie got out of the jam. The junior transfer forced Jessica Mrozek to reach on a fielder’s choice as Alexander was thrown out at home, while McKechnie used her third K to get out of the inning, striking out Kierstin Roadcap.

With the score 2-0 in favor of JMU, Kaitlin Ryder doubled to deep center with a pair of outs in the top sixth, but more offense couldn’t be sustained when Courtney Clayton grounded out to the short stop to end the top half.

James Madison third baseman Morgan Tolle put the game away when she hit a three-run home run to extend the Dukes’ lead to 5-0 in the sixth. Alexander also hit a homer run, a solo shot during the four-run frame.

Clayton registered one of UTEP’s three hits and surpassed Stacie Townsend (200 hits) to rank third on the program’s all-time hit’s list. Clayton is one of four Miners to reach 200 or more hits.

Ryder and Ariana Valles recorded the other two hits. Valles singled in the third inning. McKechnie (5-3) threw 5.1 innings while Allie Johnson recorded the other two outs during the sixth frame.

Up Next
UTEP will take on host school Hawai’i on Saturday at 8 p.m. MT.

UTEP Softball Falls to no. 15 Cal and Longwood on Thursday

HONOLULU, Hawai’i – UTEP fell to 9-9 after a pair of losses, the first to no. 15 Cal, 4-0, and Longwood, 6-0, on Thursday at the Malihini Kipa Aloha Tournament.

The weekend will continue with James Madison on March 2 (4:30 p.m. MT), Hawai’i on March 3 (8 p.m. MT), and East Carolina (2:30 p.m. MT) and Hawai’i (5 p.m.) on March 4.

UTEP 0, Cal 4

Despite falling, 4-0, to no. 15 Cal, a bright spot for the Miners was sophomore pitcher Allie Johnson, who tossed a career-high 5.0 innings, while going scoreless during the frames and striking out a career-best three batters. Johnson allowed two hits during her appearance in the circle.

Cal hurler Kamalani Dung (9-0) silenced UTEP’s bats during a complete-game winning effort. Dung tallied 12 strikeouts in the process.

The Golden Bears received all of their offense in the first frame, as four runners crossed the dish on five hits.

UTEP 0, Longwood 6

The Lancers scored two runs in the first and another two in the second, while starting Longwood pitcher Sydney Gay (4-2) allowed three hits to keep UTEP’s potent offense in check.

The Miners registered four hits during the contest as Pamala Baber, Courtney Clayton, Kacey Duffield and Bryanna Molina (in a pinch-hit situation) each recorded knocks.

The Miners loaded the bases in the seventh after a pitch hit Ilena Santos, Lindsey Sokoloski drew a walk and Molina singled. But Miners couldn’t sustain any more offense to score runners.

Clayton’s single was her 200th career hit, as she now ranks tied third with Stacie Townsend and is only the fourth Miner to record 200 or more hits during a career.

UTEP Softball to Play Six Games in Hawai’i at Malihini Kipa Aloha Tournament

After posting a 5-0 weekend, the UTEP softball team will take its five-game winning streak across the Pacific to play six contests at the Texaco Malihini Kipa Aloha Tournament.

The Miners (9-7) will open with no. 15 Cal (15-1) at 4 p.m. MT and Longwood (6-4) at 6:30 p.m. MT on March 1. The weekend will continue with games against [RV] James Madison (9-2) on March 2 (4:30 p.m. MT), East Carolina (6-9) on March 4 (2:30 p.m. MT) and host school Hawai’i (6-6) a pair of times on March 3 (8 p.m. MT) and March 4 (5 p.m. MT).

UTEP won all five of its games in the UTEP Tournament this past weekend. The Miners outscored their opponents 47-11, while hitting .429 in the process. The team ran out nine doubles, four triples and knocked out four home runs. The pitching staff posted a 2.17 ERA and combined for 27 K’s in 29.0 innings of work, while only walking 12 batters all weekend.

“[Going 5-0 this past weekend] as a lot of momentum [heading to Hawai’i], we need to be in a good place going against the competition that we’re going to see – there’s a lot of great teams competing there this weekend,” fifth-year UTEP head coach Tobin Echo-Hawk said. “The more confident we can be going into that tournament, the better we’re going to fare.”

Conference USA Player of the Week (Feb. 26) Pamala Baber cleaned up in the batter’s box during the 5-0 weekend, as she hit an astronomical .692 (9-for-13) with a 1.154 slugging percentage. Baber also recorded 10 RBI, three doubles, scored seven runs and connected on her second home run of 2018.

Kaitlin Ryder hit .563, Courtney Clayton (.538) recorded six RBI, while both Clayton and Ryder each crossed the dish eight times. In the circle, Kira McKechnie posted a 3-0 record, Julia Wright went 2-0 while picking up her second save of the season and Devyn Cretz earned her first save of the season.

The Miners are making the Hawai’i for the first time since 2015. UTEP’s next home games are March 17-18 against UAB to open C-USA home action. Prior, the Miners will play in the FAU Parents’ Weekend Tournament March 10-11 before opening C-USA play against Florida Atlantic on March 12-13 in Boca Raton.


The March 1 contest will be the first time the two schools will meet.


The Golden Bears are off to a hot start with a 15-1 record after defeating Long Beach State, 6-5 on Feb. 25, while ranking no. 15 in the USA Today/NFCA Coaches Poll. Cal’s only loss came against Texas A&M, 5-1 on Feb. 23. Cal is hitting .333, ranking tied 20th in nationally and fifth in the Pac-12. Cal has outscored its opponents 96-22. Mikayla Coelho leads Cal with a .415 batting average, while also leading her squad in home runs (three) and RBI (15). Brandie Fillmore (.302) has tallied a pair of dingers and 14 RBI, while Lindsay Rood (.385) has recorded 10 RBI. The pitching staff has been dominating, ranking 17th in the country in ERA (1.24). Zoe Conley (8-1) leads the Bears in wins, innings pitched (59.0), K’s (66), appearances (eight) and saves (three). Conley’s three saves lead Pac-12 and ranks fourth nationally. The other ace is Kamalani Dung (7-0) and her undefeated record. Dung was tossed 43.0 frames with 50 strikeouts. The two hurlers have combined for seven shutouts.


The March 1 contest will be the first time the two schools will meet.


The Lancers are off to a 6-4 start after falling to Maine, 6-4, on Feb. 25. Longwood went 2-3 at the Seahawk Softball Classic in Wilmington, N.C. The Lancers posted wins against UNCW, 3-1 and Bucknell, 3-0, at the Classic. Jessica Smith (13-32) and Kaylynn Batten (13-32) are hitting .406 to lead the way, while Batten leads the team with nine RBI. The Lancers have only hit two home runs, one by Batten and the other by Karleigh Donovan (.185). The team ERA is 2.06, while Sydney Backstrom (3-2) leads the staff with a 1.25 ERA. Syndey Gay leads the staff in innings pitched (30.1), while recording a 3-2 mark and 2.31 ERA.


The Dukes edged the Miners, 3-0, in their only meeting on March 6, 2016 in Tucson, Ariz. The Miners were only able to connect on two hits (both by Courtney Clayton), as the JMU pitchers dominated UTEP’s bats. The Dukes scored two runs in the top first and another in the fifth.


The Dukes are receiving votes in the USA Today/NFCA Coaches Poll with their 9-2 start to 2018. James Madison defeated Western Carolina, 2-0, on Feb. 25 for its sixth win in a row. The Dukes beat Penn State (4-1), Jacksonville (5-2), UCF (3-2), Campbell (8-7) and Morehead State (8-0 [5]) during the streak. The pitching staff is what the Dukes live off as they are hitting .257. The staff ERA is 1.60, which ranks 31st nationally and first in the Colonial Athletic Conference. Payton Buresch (4-1) leads that staff in ERA (1.21), while Odicci Alexander (5-1) leads in wins, innings pitched (43.1) and K’s (53), while posting a 1.94 ERA. Morgan Tolle leads the way with a .432 batting average (16-37) and leads the team in hits. Alexander leads the offense with 11 RBI.


The Pirates own a 23-5 overall mark against the Miners. East Carolina was an affiliate with Conference USA from 2001-2014. The Miners, however, did win their last contest at East Carolina, 4-1, to conclude the 2014 regular season on May 4, 2014, while it was also the Pirates last ever C-USA regular season game.


The Pirates fell to 6-9 after losing their sixth consecutive game. ECU fell, 7-2, to Saint Francis in a pair of contest by the same score, Canisius (4-3 [8]), Ball State twice (4-1 & 7-2), and UMBC (6-5). The last win came against Towson, 4-3, on Feb. 18. The team is hitting .221 and has posted a 2.97 ERA. Tate McClellan is hitting .311, while also leading ECU with seven RBI and Meredith Burroughs (.139) leads with two home runs. Erin Poepping (3-3) leads the staff in innings pitched (50.2, ERA (2.76) and K’s (27).


The Rainbow Wahine are 10-0 against the Miners. The two programs met twice in 2015 on the island, as UH took the first game, 3-2, on Feb. 20, and won the second contest, 9-2, two days later. UTEP took a 2-1 lead into the bottom seventh, but UH took advantage of Miner mishaps and scored a pair of runs for the walk-off victory.


The Rainbow Wahine improved to 6-6 after their 6-3 triumph against Weber State on Feb. 24. Hawai’i had lost its previous four contests (Feb. 22-23). UH started the season in Las Vegas, losing its first two games against BYU and Seattle, but wining its next five. Hawai’i is hitting .263 with seven home run and has outscored its opponents 50-41. Nicole Lopez leads the way with a .410 batting average (16-39), while Callee Heen leads the team in home runs (three) and RBI (12). The pitching staff has fashioned a 3.32 ERA. Brittany Hitchcock (3-3) has a 2.97 ERA, while Dana Thomsen (3-3) leads the staff in innings (42.0) and K’s (39).


Junior Mariah Ellis played at Longwood during her freshman collegiate season (2016). Ellis played 26 games and made 10 starts, while also making a start in the NCAA Tournament against Princeton. Ellis’s first two collegiate hits were home runs, as she hit .267 with nine RBI, five runs scored, a triple and a double.


The Miners are one of three Conference USA teams hitting over .300 on the season as they rank second with a .333 batting average. WKU leads the way with a .349 average. UTEP’s 90 runs scored ranks second behind WKU (112 runs), while its hits (139) are tied with WKU for most in C-USA. UTEP’s 17 doubles are tied third with Middle Tennessee, while the Miners’ six triples rank second behind WKU (seven). UTEP also ranks second in home runs (14), RBI (84), slugging (.504) and on-base percentage (.392).


UTEP ranks t-20th nationally with its .333 batting average, 28th in double plays turned per game (.56), 47th in home runs per game (.88), 46th in scoring (5.63), 24th in slugging (.504) and 31st in triples per game (.38).


UTEP’s 16 RBI versus Portland State on Feb. 24 ranks most during a single game at this of the season, while its 17 runs against PSU is tied second most with WKU (at Youngstown State). UTEP’s two triples against Portland State on Feb. 24 also ranks tied first. The Miners’ three home runs hit against Saint Mary’s College on Feb. 10 ranks tied first.


UTEP turned two more double plays this past weekend, the first against Idaho State on Feb. 23. It was a huge double play as it ended a bases loaded threat from the Bengals to end the top fifth. The play was a 3-2-4 (Kacey Duffield to Kaitlin Ryder to Courtney Clayton). The second came against Idaho State on Feb. 24, a lineout to Kira McKechnie in which she threw out the runner to Clayton at first base. UTEP leads Conference US with its nine double plays turned, and ranks 28th nationally with its double plays turned per game (.56).


UTEP has snagged 14 bases in 15 attempts thus far in 2018. The Miners rank ninth in Conference USA, but they are only five steals from matching last season’s total of 19. UTEP only stole nine in 2016.


The Miners are 9-7 after the first 16 games of 2018, their first winning record since 2011’s first 16 contests (9-7). UTEP has won five consecutive games, the first five-game winning streak since 2016 (March 25-April 2). It is also the first five-game winning streak in non-conference action since winning five in row in 2011 (Feb. 25-27). UTEP’s 8-1 record in its last nine games is the best stretch since going 7-2 in 2016 (March 19-April 2). UTEP’s five-game winning streak is also the current longest as of Feb. 27.


UTEP’s 17 runs scored against Portland State on Feb. 24 is the most during the Tobin Echo-Hawk era. It surpasses the 16 scored against Mount St. Mary’s on March 5, 2016.


UTEP took care of business quick against Idaho State, 9-0, during a 5.0-inninig run rule victory on Feb. 24. The game lasted only an hour and 10 minutes, the shortest UTEP victory in program history.


Pamala Baber was named the Conference USA Player of the Week on Feb. 26 after posting big numbers during a 5-1 week. The Rialto, Calif., native registered a career high with four RBI on a 2-for-2 performance against Idaho State on Feb. 24. Her base-clearing double during the third inning against the Bengals blew the game open as UTEP won 9-0. Baber followed with a career best in hits on a 3-for-4 outing against Portland State to close out the weekend. Baber blasted a two-run bomb over left to put the Miners ahead 8-4 after being down 4-1 early in the contest. For the week, Baber fashioned a 1.000 slugging percentage with a .632 on-base percentage. Baber hit .647 (11-for-17) with eight runs scored, three doubles, a home run, walk, a sac-fly, sac-bunt and only struck out once in five starts in right field. She added four putouts during high winds at Helen of Troy Softball Complex.


Pamala Baber ranks third in Conference USA and leads the Miners in hitting (.462), while also pacing the team in slugging (.692) and on-base percentage (.532), and is ranked tied first in doubles (three) and RBI (13). Baber has scored 14 runs – the second most on the team, while her 18 hits are ranked third on the squad. Baber ranks tied ninth in C-USA with 18 hits, ranks tied sixth in RBI (13) and ranks in top 10 in slugging and on-base percentage.


Kaitlin Ryder blasted a three-run go-ahead home run in the fourth inning against Portland State on Feb. 25 after the Miners were down 4-1. Ryder produced solid numbers during UTEP’s 5-0 weekend. The senior utility hit .563 with the home run and four RBI, while scoring eight runs and digging out a triple. Ryder ranks second on the team with a .408 batting average, while leading the team with 20 hits. Ryder ranks tied first on the squad with 13 RBI and has connected on a pair of home runs.


Kaitlin Ryder is hitting .643 (9-for-14) with runners in scoring position. She’s tallied two home runs and 13 RBI in the process. She’s been even better with runners in scoring position with two outs, as Ryder is hitting .750 (3-for-4) with six RBI and a home run.


Senior Kaitlin Ryder, who started the season starting in center field, has started behind the dish the last 10 games. Ryder has thrown five base stealers out and has tallied a pickoff during the span (Feb. 16-25). UTEP is 8-2 when she’s behind the plate, as Ryder has recorded 55 putouts with 11 assists and no errors.


Senior Courtney Clayton put up big numbers at the UTEP Tournament. Clayton hit .538 (7-13) with eight runs scored, two doubles, a triple, her second home run of the season and six RBI. She also drew two walks, was hit twice by a pitch and did not strikeout in 13 at bats. She also registered 10 putouts, eight assists and zero errors. Clayton leads the team with two triples and 17 runs scored. She’s hitting .388 (third on team) with two long balls, three doubles (tied first on team) and 10 RBI.


Junior transfer Julia Wright won her first Division I softball games this past weekend. Wright earned her first win against Idaho State on Feb. 23 as she tossed 4.0 frames with four K’s and only one walk. Wright followed with another victory, this time against Portland State on Feb. 24 as she hurled 3.0 frames during the 17-4 victory. Wright posted a career-high seven strike outs during the victory. She also earned her second save of 2018, coming into relief against Portland State on Feb. 25. Wright threw 2.0 frames, struck out a trio and walked none against the Vikings on the last day of the UTEP Tournament. Wright, during her last 15.0 innings, has tallied 23 K’s and has only walked four, while fashioning a 2.33 ERA. Overall, during her first season with the Orange and Blue, Wright leads the staff in innings pitched (36.2), ERA (4.01), saves (two) and strikeouts (35). Wright also leads Conference USA in saves and ranks sixth in with her 35 strikeouts.


Julia Wright has registered a pair of saves during the young season, leading Conference USA and ranking tied eighth nationally.


Junior transfer Kira McKechnie, after throwing a total of 1.2 innings at Fresno State, leads the UTEP pitching staff with five victories, while ranking tied third in Conference USA in the wins’ department. McKechnie has thrown 32.0 frames and has struck out 22 batters. She’s also been part of two shutout victories, the first during a 7-0 win against Saint Mary’s College on Feb. 10, while it was her first collegiate victory. McKechnie also blanked Idaho State, 9-0, on Feb. 24. She’s posted the most shutout victories since Danielle Pearson posted a pair of shutout wins in 2016.


Kira McKechnie got an opportunity to bat during her start in the circle against Portland State on Feb. 23. McKechnie made the most of the opportunity as she connected on a 2-1 pitch and singled in two runs through the right side. It was her first collegiate hit and RBI after playing two previous years at Fresno State.


Junior Mariah Ellis hit .556 (5-for-9) with two runs scored, a home run and seven RBI this past week. Ellis’s week started with a towering three-run home run over left center against rival NM State on Feb. 20 that put the Miners back in the ball game. Ellis followed with four consecutive games in which she tallied an RBI (Feb. 23-25). Ellis is hitting .346 overall with seven RBI. She’s also hitting .500 (4-for-8) with four RBI in pinch-hitting situations.


Junior Ariel Blair leads the Miners with her six stolen bags in 2018 and has 13 during her career. She needs four to crack the top 10 for career stolen bases and four to crack the top eight for stolen bases during a single season. Chelsea Troupe leads the all-time career list with 37 stolen bags, while Tahla Wade’s 17 in 2015 is a single-season program record.


Redshirt junior Linda Garcia cranked her first home run in almost two years when she sent a ball over center field against Portland State on Feb. 24. Garcia, who connected on a 1-0 pitch with a runner on, recorded her first long ball since May 1, 2016.


Junior transfer Kacey Duffield has started the last eight games at the designated player position, while also seeing time at first base. Duffield responded with a .385 average (5-for-13) during the last six games, while tallying three RBI. Duffield’s first hits in a UTEP uniform came at UNLV (Feb. 17) on a 2-for-3 night with a double and two runs scored. Duffield concluded the weekend with another 2-for-3 outing against Portland State Feb. 25. Duffield is hitting .280 with three runs scored, two doubles, a walk, two sac-bunts and three RBI.


Freshman Brianna Hill connected on her first collegiate knock and RBI against Portland State on Feb. 24. Hill got a hold of a 2-1 pitch and sent it to deep right for a two-run triple. Hill started the UTEP Tournament weekend by drawing her first walk, stealing her first base and scoring her first run, which came against Portland State on Feb. 23 in a pinch-hit situation during the fifth inning. Hill would tally her third career RBI on a sac-fly to right field versus Portland State on Feb. 24, while she reached first base due to an error by the right fielder. Hill would go on to score her third run of the weekend.


Kaitlin Ryder’s career .338 batting average currently ranks sixth on the program’s career list. Ryder’s .510 slugging ranks ninth, .415 on-base ranks fourth, four triples rank tied fourth, and recently cracked the top 10, ranking ninth with 88 RBI.


UTEP Softball’s Baber Named C-USA Player of the Week

IRVING, Tx – UTEP softball sophomore Pamala Baber was announced as the Conference USA Softball Player of the Week on Monday after posting big numbers during the Miners’ 5-0 weekend.

Baber is the first UTEP softball player to earn a C-USA recognition since 2016 when Kaitlin Fifield was named pitcher of the week, and Baber is the first hitter of the week since Kawehiokalani Netane’s player of the week honor in 2015.

The Rialto, California native registered a career-high four RBI on a 2-for-2 performance against Idaho State on February 24. Her base-clearing double during the third inning against the Bengals blew the game open as UTEP won 9-0. The game lasted an hour and 10 minutes. Baber followed with a career best in hits on a 3-for-4 outing against Portland State to close out the weekend. Baber blasted a two-run bomb over left to put the Miners ahead 8-4 over PSU after being down 4-1 early in the contest.

For the week (six games), Baber fashioned a 1.000 slugging percentage with a .632 on-base percentage. Baber hit .647 (11-for-17) with eight runs scored, three doubles, a home run, walk, a sac-fly, sac-bunt and only struck out once in five starts in right field. She added four putouts during high winds at Helen of Troy Softball Complex.

Baber produced four multi-hit games during the week that started with a 2-for-4 night against rival NM State on Feb. 20 during the home opener. Baber followed with a 2-for-2 game versus Portland State on Feb. 23, while adding an RBI and run. Baber also tallied a run and RBI against Idaho State on Feb. 23 and two RBI and a pair of runs against Portland State on Feb. 24.

Baber is leading the Miners with a .462 batting average, while ranking in the top 10 in multiple C-USA statistics, including batting average, slugging (.692), on-base percentage (.532), runs (14) and RBI (13).

The Miners (9-7) will travel across the Pacific to play six games at the Malihini Kipa Aloha Tournament March 1-4. UTEP will take on host Hawai’i (March 3 & 4), Cal and Longwood (March 1), James Madison (March 2) and East Carolina (March 4).

Longball Rally! Ryder’s Go-Ahead Three-Run HR Lifts UTEP Past Portland State

A day after beating up on Portland State, 17-4, the Vikings came out strong and jumped on UTEP early with a 4-1 lead. But the resilient and scrappy Miners used a four-run fourth frame, which included a Kaitlin Ryder go-ahead three-run home run, to fight off the Vikings, 8-4, on Sunday afternoon at Helen of Troy Softball Complex.

“I told the team after the game as long as we keep fighting, it’s a good thing and sometimes you learn what kind of team you are when your backs are against the wall,” fifth-year UTEP head coach Tobin Echo-Hawk said. “They continued to fight and scrap and it was one of my favorite wins because it’s hard to beat a team three times. They kept going at it and staying positive. But Portland State played a good game, hats off to them – it wasn’t easy.”

The Miners (9-7) finished the weekend 5-0, while winning their last eight of nine contests.

The Vikings brought a 4-1 lead into the fourth after scoring two runs in the second inning and two more during the third after Darian Lindsey hit a solo home run over right and Kortney Craker singled in a run.

Junior Kacey Duffield got the rally started with a leadoff single through the left side in the fourth. Speedy freshman Jordyn Quevedo was then inserted as pinch runner for Duffield. Ilena Santos followed with a single, advancing Quevedo to second. Ariana Valles then reached on a fielder’s choice as Santos was thrown out at second, but a throwing error by the second baseman advanced Quevedo to home and Valles to second, getting the Miners within two runs (4-2).

The fourth inning continued when Ariel Blair drew a walk on a full count as she saw 10 pitches during her at bat. Blair then followed with a stolen base – her team-leading sixth of the season – during Ryder’s at bat. Ryder, too, saw multiple pitches, including one that she pulled to left that just grazed the left field foul line that could’ve tied the contest. But it was a blessing in disguise as she sent the next pitch over right field, giving the Miners a 5-4 lead in front of the loud and boisterous fan base.

Kira McKechnie and Julia Wright came into relief to put the game in the books. McKechnie was inserted into the circle during the third inning after starting hurler Devyn Cretz struggled a bit. McKechnie (5-2) earned the win after tossing 3.0 innings, allowing a run, striking out a pair and only walking one. Wright entered the circle with her squad up 5-4, as she tossed 2.0 frames to earn her second save of the season. Wright tallied three K’s and no walks. She’s recorded 23 K’s in her last 15.0 innings with only four walks and a 2.33 ERA.

Insurance runs were scored in the sixth inning off the bats of Pamala Baber and Brianna Hill. Hill was credited with an RBI sac-fly to right that scored Courtney Clayton, who led off the inning with her team-leading second triple of the season. Hill would reach first due to an error on the right fielder. Baber then blew the game open with a two-run bomb over left on a full-count pitch, making the score 8-4.

The Miners amassed 11 more hits on Sunday, as double-digit hits were tallied in three of the five games during the weekend. Clayton added another multi-hit performance (the 60th in her career), going 2-for-4, while Baber recorded a career high in hits on a 3-for-4 day and scored two runs. Ryder tallied three RBI and Duffield finished 2-for-3. Mariah Ellis put the Miners on the board first with a pinch-hit RBI single to left during the second inning.

Up Next
The Miners will travel across the Pacific to play six games in Hawai’i. UTEP will take on Cal and Longwood (March 1), James Madison (March 2), host school Hawai’i twice (March 3 & 4) and East Carolina (March 4).

UTEP Softball Win Streak at Four with a Pair of Run-Rule Victories

Pamala Baber recorded a career-high four RBI as UTEP shutout Idaho State, 9-0, during a run-rule win in the which the contest lasted only an hour and 10 minutes, and Courtney Clayton tallied three RBI, three runs and a home run during the Miners’ 17-4 trouncing of Portland State on a chilly Saturday at the Helen of Troy Softball Complex.

“We talked yesterday about how we need to be better hitters; I think they showed up today and focused on the things that they needed to do,” fifth-year UTEP head coach Tobin Echo-Hawk said. “They were calm in the box, trusted their fundamentals and they did a good job placing timely hit and key pinch hits.”

The Miners are 8-7 to start the campaign and 7-1 during their last eight contests. The 2011 season was the last time UTEP posted a winning record (9-6) in its first 15 contests. The four-game winning streak is also the longest since winning five in a row (March 25-April 2) in 2016.

UTEP 9, Idaho State 0 [5]

The Miners took care of business fast, scoring a run in the second, six in the third and two more during the fourth frame.

UTEP tallied eight hits, led by Baber’s 2-for-2 outing and Kaitlin Ryder’s 2-for-3 performance. Kacey Duffield put the Miners on the board with a one-run single to the shortstop, plating Cortney Smith who was hit by a pitch to lead off the second inning.

With the bases loaded, Baber blew the game open with a base-clearing double, her second double of the season, while Sargent, Ellis and Valles each recorded an RBI to put the Miners up 7-0. The fourth inning saw Ryder lead off with a triple and Clayton get hit by a pitch to put runners at the corners.

Cortney Smith drove home Ryder with her second double of the season and Baber registered her career-best fourth RBI on a sac-fly hit to center, plating Clayton.

Kira McKechnie (4-2) got her fifth start of the season, hurling 77 pitches in 5.0 innings of work, walking one and striking out two. The junior transfer picked up her staff-leading fourth victory.

Clayton, Ryder and Smith each crossed the dish two times.

UTEP 17, Portland State 4 [5]

The Miners pounded out 15 hits on their way to 17 runs, the most during the Echo-Hawk era. UTEP scored 10 runs on eight hits during the big second frame during the evening contest.

The second inning was highlighted by a Linda Garcia two-run home run – her first since May 1, 2016 – after missing all of 2017 with an injury. Taylor Sargent also cleared the bases with a three-run double. Taylor’s three RBI tied her career best.

Freshman Brianna Hill recorded her first collegiate and RBI – a triple that scored a pair of runs in the fourth inning. Jordyn Quevedo was hit by a pitch during the fourth and found her way home for her third run of her freshman season.

“We see [the new players] in practice all time and they do great,” Echo-Hawk said. “It’s just giving them an opportunity and them making the most of the opportunity. It’s good to see them take advantage of these opportunities.”

Clayton finished the second contest with a 2-for-2 outing, while crossing home plate three times and tallying three RBI. Valles, Garcia, Baber and Hill each registered two RBI. Mariah Ellis and Ryder each recorded an RBI.

Julia Wright (2-2) looked impressive as she earned her second victory of 2018. The junior transfer threw 3.0 frames, striking out a career-high seven batters and only walking two. Wright recorded 20 K’s in her last 13.0 innings pitched. McKechnie also made her into the circle, walking none and striking out three.

Up Next

UTEP will look to finish the weekend undefeated as it hosts Portland State at 12:30 p.m. to close out the 2018 UTEP Tournament. The Miners will then travel to Hawai’i to play six contests March 1-4.


Miners Sink Vikings, Tame Bengals at UTEP Tournament

Kira McKechnie won her third collegiate game, while picking up her first hit and RBI as the UTEP softball team run-ruled Portland State, 9-1, and Mariah Ellis drove in the go-ahead run during the second contest and the Miners (6-7) got by Idaho State, 4-2, on the first day of the UTEP Tournament at Helen of Troy Softball Complex on Friday night.

“The first win, it’s always nice to run-rule a team,” fifth-year UTEP head coach Tobin Echo-Hawk said. “I think our pitchers did a great job keeping us in the ball game and our hitters came through in timely situations.”

UTEP 9, Portland State 1 [5]
Courtney Clayton drove in three runs, including a pair that she drove home during the bottom fifth to clinch the victory against the Vikings during a four-run fifth. Kacey Duffield and Ariana Valles each registered an RBI during the victory-clinching frame.

The Miners jumped on the Vikings in the first inning when Cortney Smith and Pamala Baber drove in runs. The game commenced when Ariel Blair drew a leadoff walk and Kaitlin Ryder singled. Smith connected on a hard hit up the middle that plated Blair and Baber used a one-out bunt single to score Ryder for a 2-0 advantage.

Two more runs crossed the dish when starting pitcher McKechnie was inserted as a pinch hitter and recorded her first career RBI on a two-run single hit through the right side, giving her squad a 4-0 lead. McKechnie (3-2) was also effective in the circle, throwing 3.0 innings, allowing only two hits, walked three and struck out three. Devyn Cretz finished the contest, hurling 2.0 frames, allowing one hit, zero walks and tallying a K.

The Miners picked up their fifth run in the fourth. Blair drew a walk and stole her team-leading fourth base. Ryder advanced Blair to third on a bunt single. Blair scored her second run when Clayton drove her home on a sac-fly hit to center.

Smith finished 2-for-3, while Baber went 2-for-2 with a run and RBI. Ryder also finished 2-for-2 and drew a pair of walk and scored a run. Freshman Brianna Hill drew a walk and stole her first career base.

UTEP 4, Idaho State 2
With the score tied 2-2 after Emma Bordenkecher drove in a pair of runs in the top third, the Miners responded with two of their own in the home half.

Clayton led the third off with a single to right and Baber doubled on a blood placed in shallow right center. Duffield then reached on an error to load the bases to set up Ellis’s pinch-hit opportunity, in which she took full advantage on a first-pitch hard knock up the middle that plated Clayton. Freshman Ilena Santos reached on an error, but was credited with an RBI when Baber crossed the dish.

“As far as the second game, it was just a scrappy game, going back-and-forth,” Echo-Hawk added. “It wasn’t pretty and I don’t think we hit very well, but we found a way to score four runs. I think Idaho State, after losing 18-0 to NM State [earlier in day], they tried to prove a point and they’re better than their record indicates.”

The Bengals made a threat in the fifth after three consecutive walks loaded the bases by McKechnie. Cretz came in relief and forced the first out when Aubrey Creekmore reached on a fielder’s choice after Haley Harrison was thrown out at home plate. But the big play of the night was when UTEP turned its eighth double play of the season. Frankie Tago put the ball into play, as Duffield threw out the runner at home, Ryder then whipped the ball to Clayton for the third out to end the threat.

“[The double play] was a huge, huge play,” Echo-Hawk said. “Kacey was heads up throwing home, and Ryder trusted that Courtney Clayton was going to be there, because that’s a boom-boom play. You have to trust your teammates. They did a great job getting us out of that inning. If we don’t get out of that inning, the game is a lot different.”

Julia Wright (1-2) got the nod in the circle, winning her first Division I game after throwing 4.0 frames and striking out four in the process. Wright allowed five hit and only walked one. Wright has thrown 10.0 solid innings her last three outings, while tallying 13 K’s and only two walks. Cretz earned her second career save after throwing 3.0 innings, walking none and striking out a pair, which included back-to-back K’s looking for the first two outs during the top seventh.

“Our pitchers did a good job,” Echo-Hawk said. “Julia held us in the game, and I know Kira struggled, but that’s a pitching staff. When one struggles, the other ones have to pick up the slack and they did that.”

Clayton produced another multi-hit game, going 2-for-2 with two runs scored. Clayton now has 59 career multi-hit games and 195 career hits. Blair (2-4) and Ryder (2-4) also added multi-hit performances.

Up Next
UTEP will take on Idaho State (3:30 p.m.) and Portland State (6 p.m.) on Saturday as all four contests (Idaho State vs. NM State [10:30 a.m.]; Portland State vs. NM State [6 p.m.]) are free in conjunction with National Girls and Women in Sports Day.

Miners to Host Portland State, Idaho in UTEP Softball Tournament

The UTEP softball program will host the UTEP Tournament as NM State, Portland State and Idaho State will participate during the February 23-25 slate.

Ten games are scheduled, while the Miners (4-7) will take on Portland State (1-3) and Idaho State (0-5). UTEP and NM State (4-3) will not face one another during the weekend.

The Miners are coming off an 8-5 loss in which they battled the Aggies down to the wire on Tuesday night. Prior to the rivalry matchup, UTEP posted a 3-2 record in Las Vegas, defeating New Mexico 8-0 [5] in a combined no-hitter, edging UNLV 8-7 on February 17 and rallying to beat South Dakota 7-5 on February 18.

NM State ran up six runs in the third inning, but UTEP answered with five of its own during the fourth frame. Junior Mariah Ellis got a hold of a 1-2 change up tossed by Aggies’ hurler Kayla Green and crushed the three-run shot past the outfield fence over the rock by the UTEP dormitories. The Miners filled the bases in the bottom seventh, but NM State first baseman Fahren Glackin made a leaping lineout snag on a hard hit by junior transfer Kacey Duffield.

UTEP is hosting a weekend softball event for the first time since 2014. UTEP will host five games – vs. Portland State (3:30 p.m.) and Idaho State (6 p.m.) on Friday; vs. Idaho State (3:30 p.m.) and Portland State (6 p.m.) on Saturday; and Portland State (12:30 p.m.) on Sunday to close out the weekend.

The neutral games include Portland State vs. NM State (10:30 a.m.) and Idaho State vs. NM State (1 p.m.) to open Friday’s slate of games. Saturday’s neutral games are Idaho State vs. NM State (10:30 a.m.) and Portland State vs. NM State (1 p.m.) on Saturday, and Sunday’s neutral game is NM State vs. Idaho State (10 a.m.).  **The teams in bold are the designate ‘home’ teams.

Fifth-year UTEP head coach Tobin Echo-Hawk got her coaching career started at Portland State. Echo-Hawk posted a 146-127 record in five seasons (2009-2013), while advancing to the NCAA Tournament in four of those campaigns.


UTEP is 1-3 all-time versus Portland, but won its last meeting, 8-5, on Feb. 15, 2015 in Las Vegas. The Vikings went up 5-0 on the Miners, as current UTEP graduate assistant Lexi Goranson went 1-for-2 with three RBI in the contest. But the Miners scored eight runs in the top seventh on six hits and three errors.

Courtney Clayton went 1-for-4 with an RBI, Taylor Sargent finished 2-for-4 with a run and RBI, while Kaitlin Ryder scored a run and posted an RBI during the comeback victory. The two programs met on Feb. 7, 2015 in Tempe, Ariz., as PSU won 7-5. The Vikings, during Tobin Echo-Hawk’s first season at the helm at PSU, defeated UTEP 5-4 on Feb. 8, 2009. The two programs first met on Feb. 17, 2006 – a 6-3 PSU win.

The Vikings are 1-3 after an 11-1 loss against no. 9/6 Florida State on Feb. 10. Portland State opened the season at the Bobcat Classic in San Marcos, Texas, winning its first game, 8-2, against Sam Houston State on Feb. 9. FSU won 18-1 on Feb. 9, while Sam Houston State defeat PSU, 6-4 on Feb. 10. PSU’s contest versus Texas State was cancelled.

The Vikings are hitting .191, while being outscored 37-14. Darian Lindsey leads the team with a .364 batting average, while Kaela Morrow leads with five RBI. Lindsey and Morrow have each connected on the Vikings’ only two home runs. The team ERA is 10.04. Alyssa Burk (1-1) leads the staff in K’s (five) and innings pitched (12.0).

The Feb. 23 contest will be the first meeting between the two programs.

The Bengals have opened the 2018 with an 0-5 record after a 14-6 [5] loss against Long Beach State on Feb. 18 in Las Vegas. Idaho State lost to San Jose State (15-3 [5]), UNLV (5-3) on Feb. 16, and CSU Northridge (5-2) and Hawai’i (18-0 [5]) on Feb. 17. The Bengals are hitting .265 and have been outscored 57-14. Emma Bordenkecher leads the team with a .375 average, while also pacing the club in RBI (six) and home runs (two). The staff ERA is 11.31, as Mariah Mulcahy leads the staff in innings pitched (19.0) and K’s (11).

The last time UTEP hosted a tournament was in 2014, when the Miners posted a 5-0 record. UTEP defeated Incarnate Word (12-4 [5]) and Houston Baptist (5-2) on Feb. 21; HBU (10-5) and UIW (6-5 [8]) on Feb. 22; and UIW (9-1) on Feb. 23. The Miners outscored their opponents 42-17, while hitting .430 (65-151) during the weekend.

KCOS KID WRITERS 2018 728×90