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Home | Tag Archives: utep softball

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Video+story: Coach T.J. Hubbard embracing The Climb with UTEP Softball

Head Coach T.J. Hubbard just concluded his first week of practice with his new squad in preparation for the 2020 campaign.

As Hubbard begins his tenure leading the UTEP softball program, he will be focused primarily on building relationships with his players and coaches. He has the mindset that trust and relationships must be developed first before all else.

The Helen of Troy Softball Complex, along with all of the other resources at UTEP, caught the eye of Coach Hubbard as he made the decision to come to the Sun City. He also sees UTEP softball as a sort of sleeping giant that has everything high-level prospects desire in a program.

“What’s exciting is the facilities, resources and amenities that we have access to,” Hubbard said. “We have great weather to train in and a great location. I think it is a great opportunity for any young prospect that is looking to pursue a collegiate career. Everything is here. Everything from an educational standpoint, to the facilities and staff. I looked at it as an opportunity to really get something off the ground and running. I think we will be able to target some high-level prospects, and get this thing turned around. I am excited to be here.”

Hubbard has developed a team motto that has inspired him in the early stages of the year. That motto is to climb. The climb will need to be embraced in every facet of this year’s experience. He understands that in order to get his program to where it needs to go, they will have to fight uphill together.

“A mantra I came up with as I came into this situation was to climb,” Hubbard recalled. “We are going to have to climb every day. We are not in a position to take two or three steps and be at the top of the mountain. We are at the bottom of the mountain, and every day is going to be a climb. Every day will be a journey. Success is certainly not a destination by any means. It is something you have to do every single day.”

Coach has also already enjoyed his short time in the 915. The people, the culture and the food have all made impressions on the Oklahoma native.

“At this point I have seen that El Paso has great people and a great community,” Hubbard said. “The community is what makes UTEP special and UTEP makes the community special. It is a great connection and I love it so far.”

UTEP begins its season on Feb. 7 in Las Cruces, N.M., and coach Hubbard is fully embracing the time before opening day to build relationships with his team and enjoy his new home.

For complete coverage of UTEP Softball, be sure to follow the Miners on social media at @utepsoftball (Instagram) and @UTEPSoftball (Twitter) or click here to visit the official home of UTEP Athletics.

UTEP Softball Focusing on Trust, Communication in First Practice

The Miners reported for the first day of the spring semester on Thursday morning, with head coach T.J. Hubbard orchestrating his first practice in the Orange and Blue.

Coach Hubbard was hired as the third head coach in UTEP softball history last month on December 11. Today was his first opportunity to get on the diamond with his squad, and both him and the team were ecstatic to take the field.

“Today, the excitement and enthusiasm was great in our first session back,” Hubbard said. “I had a chance to meet the girls this morning, and have some brief introductions. The excitement and buzz on the field was awesome. The team is ready to get after it and I am excited to be here.”

Senior first baseman Bryanna Molina shared in the excitement, and was ready to begin with a clean slate in her final season for UTEP.

“It is awesome to be back,” Molina stated. “I think all of us during the break were texting each other and saying how bored we were, and how we wanted to get back out on the field. We couldn’t wait to start fresh. Since we have a new coach there is a fresh and new feel to the game. We are excited to be back.”

With a new coach comes a new system. Both Hubbard and the players are making this transition into new practice styles, terminology and routines. This comes with its fair share of adversity, but Molina knows this is nothing herself and the team can’t handle.

“It’s different but it is something that we can handle and get through,” Molina said. “We have to learn him and the way he coaches. He also has to learn the way we play. This is what practice is for though. We are ready to learn new things and get ready for the first game. We want to take it slow and take it step-by-step. We will get through it together.”

Coach Hubbard is singularly focused on pouring the foundation for the relationships he will have with his new team. As the Miners approach their first game less than a month away, Hubbard is emphasizing communication, relationships and trust building above all else.

“Some of the biggest points for me from a coaching perspective will be to really emphasize communication,” Hubbard said. “We are just getting to know each other, and obviously we are in a new place. We are trying to make the environment as comfortable, yet challenging, as possible so that they are prepared to play come February 7. The main focus is relationships, communication and being able to trust one another. Those are the three key points I am trying to focus on right now.”

The team is learning one another day-by-day, but will lean on the game they love to help bridge any gap that arises over the next month. The new era of UTEP softball is here, and the 2020 team is up to the task.

For complete coverage of UTEP Softball, be sure to follow the Miners on social media at @utepsoftball (Instagram) and @UTEPSoftball (Twitter) or click here to visit the official home of UTEP Athletics.

UTEP Softball Announces 2020 Schedule

UTEP softball announced its 47-game schedule for the 2020 season, which features games against power-five and NCAA tournament teams.

The Miners have 19 games pinned against top-100 RPI teams from 2019. They will also play Arkansas, LA Tech and Houston whom were all NCAA Tournament participants. UTEP also has 18 games scheduled at home, the most since 2018.

The Orange and Blue will open up the season on Feb. 7 at the Troy Cox Invitational hosted by NM State in Las Cruces, N.M. UTEP will begin the year taking on two power-five opponents in Arkansas (9:30 a.m.) and Nebraska (11:30 a.m.). On the second day of the season, the Miners will once again play Nebraska (2 p.m.), followed by Bradley (11:30 a.m.) on Feb. 9.

They will conclude the first weekend of play later that day against their bitter rival NM State Aggies on Feb. 9 at 2 p.m. MT.

UTEP will head to the west coast to Riverside, Calif., for the second tournament of the year on Feb. 14 through Feb. 16. Santa Clara (10 a.m. MT) and Idaho State (12:30 p.m. MT) are on the docket for day one of the tourney. Day two sees the Miners once again taking on Idaho State (10 a.m. MT).

On Sunday, to cap of their trip to the Golden State, the Miners will have a rematch versus Santa Clara (10 a.m. MT) and then UC Riverside (12:30 p.m. MT) to finish off the west coast trip.

The Miners took a break from hosting their own tournament last season. However, this year they will play four games at the Helen of Troy Softball Complex (Feb. 21-23). The first day of action will feature UTEP versus IUPUI (3:30 p.m.) and Omaha (6 p.m.). The Orange and Blue have another matchup against IUPUI (4:30 p.m.) scheduled for the second day of the tournament. They will exhaust their hosting duties with a rematch against Omaha (12:30 p.m.) on Feb. 23.

The final pre-conference tournament for the Miners will be Boyd Rebel Gaming Classic, hosted by UNLV from Feb. 28-March 1. UTEP will play Houston (10 a.m.) and UNLV (3 p.m.) on day one of the trip. Day two sees the Miners once again playing NM State (10 a.m.) and Houston (12:30 p.m.).

The first of March will see UTEP take on UNLV (11 a.m.), and will mark the end of the non-conference tournament schedule.

C-USA series will now feature one game on Friday, Saturday and Sunday, as opposed to previous years, where a double header would be played on Saturday and one game Sunday. All times for the C-USA series will be announced at a later day.

UTEP opens conference play by hosting the defending C-USA champs, LA Tech Lady Techsters (March 6-8). The next weekend (March 13-15) the Miners will once again be at home to play UAB.

The Orange and Blue will be on the road versus FIU (March 20-22), Charlotte (April 3-5), before returning home to play UTSA (April 10-12).

UTEP will take a trip to Southern Miss (April 17-19), and then come back to El Paso to play North Texas (April 24-26).

The Miners will cap off conference play at Florida Atlantic (May 1-3), and then gear up for the conference tournament (May 5-9) in Bowling Green, Ky.

The Orange and Blue will also have a few non-conference games sprinkled in throughout C-USA play. First, the Miners will host NM State (March 24) at 6 p.m. Then they will stay home to play the Lobos (March 31) at 3 p.m.

UTEP will then travel to its border-state rivals homes on April 7 (NM State) at 6 p.m., and April 22 (New Mexico) at 2 p.m.

UTEP names T.J. Hubbard Head Softball Coach

UTEP Director of Athletics Jim Senter has appointed T.J. Hubbard, the 2018 Western Athletic Conference Coach of the Year, as the Miners’ head softball coach.

Hubbard comes to El Paso after serving as the head coach at Utah Valley University where he engineered a remarkable turnaround, taking over a team that tallied nine wins and guiding it to the no. 2 seed in the Western Athletic Conference Tournament within two years.

“We welcome T.J., his wife Kara and their daughters Sophia, Audrey and Emma to the UTEP family,” Senter said.  “He rose to the top of our list of candidates with his nine years of head coaching experience and his proven track record of turning around programs.  His extensive recruiting connections in the state of Texas also made him an ideal fit for us.  Throughout his coaching career, he has fostered a culture of integrity, discipline and hard work, and his student-athletes have excelled both academically and athletically.  We’re excited about the new era of UTEP Softball.”

“It is an incredible honor and privilege to accept the head coaching position at The University of Texas at El Paso,” Hubbard said.  “I want to thank President Heather Wilson, Jim Senter, Jon Teicher and Julie Levesque for this incredible opportunity and for all their efforts throughout the process.  I can’t wait to get to El Paso and meet our players and staff.  I look forward to working together to build a program that we can all be proud of, a program that will annually compete for the Conference USA Championship.”

The year prior to his arrival (2016), Utah Valley posted an overall record of 9-43 and a 3-12 mark in WAC play.  In year one under Hubbard (2017), the Wolverines increased their victory total to 16 and came within a game of finishing .500 (7-8) in league play.  In year two under Hubbard’s direction (2018), Utah Valley notched 21 victories with a 10-4 WAC slate, and advanced to the postseason National Invitational Softball Championships.

During his three seasons (2017-19) in Orem, Utah, Hubbard coached student-athletes who earned a total of 10 All-WAC honors with a pair of NFCA All-Region accolades.  He also coached the back-to-back WAC Pitcher of the Year (Lauren Frailey Spendlove & Makayla Shadle) and Freshman of the Year (Caragh Morris & Payton Angulo) in 2017 and 2018 respectively.  Off the diamond, his student-athletes fashioned an average cumulative GPA of 3.37 with 15 All-WAC Academic honorees and 33 NFCA Academic All-Americans.

Hubbard’s Utah Valley teams combined for a 24-23 mark in WAC play.  The previous three Utah Valley teams went 11-33 in the league altogether.

The native Oklahoman was the head coach at North Texas from 2008-13, finishing his tenure as the winningest coach in program history.  He racked up 161 wins in six seasons, with four campaigns of 27 victories or more and a school-record 29 wins in both 2010 and 2013.

The Mean Green defeated seven nationally ranked opponents during that time and achieved four top-100 RPI finishes — 2010 (no. 57), 2011 (no. 92), 2012 (no. 84) and 2013 (no. 74).  Hubbard coached 19 All-Sun Belt Conference players and nine Sun Belt All-Tournament players during his time in Denton.

He also coached the only two softball players (Susan Waters & Mallory Cantler) in the North Texas Hall of Fame.

In the classroom, his teams compiled an average GPA of 3.19, and 97 of his student-athletes earned a spot on the Sun Belt Academic Honor Roll.

In-between his separate head coaching stints, Hubbard was the Associate Head Coach at Louisiana (2013-15) and Assistant Coach at Kansas (2015-16).  While at Louisiana, he helped the Ragin’ Cajuns to the 2014 Women’s College World Series and the 2015 Super Regionals with back-to-back Sun Belt Conference titles and 91 wins.

The high-powered Ragin’ Cajun offense ranked first nationally in home runs per game (2.15) and second in scoring (8.15 runs per game) and slugging percentage (.652) in 2015.  Louisiana boasted 15 All-Sun Belt players during Hubbard’s two years in the dugout, including the two-time Sun Belt Player of the Year and four NFCA All-Americans.

Hubbard’s duties at Louisiana included directing the pitch calling and mentoring 2014 Sun Belt Conference Pitcher of the Year and All-American Christina Hamilton.  His year at Kansas resulted in a winning season (31-20) and a fourth-place finish in the Big XII Conference.

Hubbard has registered 213 victories in nine seasons as a head coach.

Hubbard got his start in coaching as an assistant at Seminole State College from 2002-03, where his efforts helped produce a third-place showing at the NJCAA National Championship, and a 64-16 record.

He earned his Bachelor of Science degree in Non-Clinical Exercise Science/Sports Management from Oklahoma Wesleyan in May, 2002.  He was a three-year letterwinner for the OWU baseball team as a second baseman.

Hubbard and his wife, Kara, have three daughters – Sophia (16), Audrey (12) and Emma (nine).

UTEP Softball Coach Tobin Echo-Hawk Relieved of Duties

UTEP Director of Athletics Jim Senter announced on Friday that softball head coach Tobin Echo-Hawk will not return for the 2020 season.

“We thank Tobin for her service to UTEP and the Miner softball program,” Senter said.  “Due to this being a personnel matter, there will be no further comment.”

Echo-Hawk was head coach of the Miners for six seasons (2014-19), compiling a 104-207 record and a 57-87 mark in Conference USA play.

The Miners made two Conference USA Tournament appearances during her tenure.

Plans for future leadership of the UTEP softball program are to be announced.

UTEP Softball boasts 10 Easton/NFCA All-America Scholar Athletes

Thanks to their performance on and off the diamond, the UTEP Softball team has earned a roster full of honors.

Miners Pamala Baber, Pate Cathey, Kacey Duffield, Mariah Ellis, Sky Estrada, Linda Garcia, Allie Johnson, Bryana Munoz, Nadya Orozco and Jordyn Quevedo were all recipients of the Easton/National Fastpitch Coaches Association (NFCA) All-American Scholar-Athlete award for the 2018-19 academic year.

Officials share that this is the most Easton/NFCA All-America Scholar athletes in program history.

Seniors Baber and Johnson, as well as Miner-Alumna Ellis are recipients of their third NFCA honor.

This is the second NFCA recognition for senior Duffield, while Cathey, Estrada, Garcia, Munoz, Orozco and Quevedo are first-time honorees.

This is the first time in history that the NFCA has honored over 8,000 student-athletes (8,161), with 1,769 being Division I athletes.

Established in 1983, the National Fastpitch Coaches Association (NFCA) is the professional growth organization for fastpitch softball coaches from all competitive levels of play.

Although collegiate coaches comprised the majority of the organization’s membership in the early days, today they are joined by high school, travel ball, professional and international coaches, along with umpires, clubs, businesses and fans of fastpitch softball.

UTEP Softball announces fall schedule

Head Coach Tobin Echo-Hawk announced the team’s eight-game fall slate on Monday morning.

The Miners will begin their preparation for the 2020 campaign with eight games scheduled for late September and early October.

The first pair of contests for the fall schedule will come against I-10 rival NM State on Sept. 21. The two teams will play a double header in Las Cruces, N.M., at 12 p.m. & 2 p.m. MT.

During the next weekend, the Orange and Blue will head home to the Helen of Troy Softball Complex to take on Odessa, Sept. 28 at 1 p.m. & 3 p.m. MT.

On Oct. 5, UTEP is scheduled to face off against Midland in a double header at 1 p.m. & 3 p.m. MT. The next day the Miners will finish off the fall slate versus Howard, with a double header beginning at 12 p.m. MT.

For complete coverage of UTEP Softball, be sure to follow the Miners on social media at @utepsoftball (Instagram) and @UTEPSoftball (Twitter) or visit the official home of UTEP Athletics at UTEPMiners.com.

UTEP adds Hall-of-Famer Camilla Carrera, Kaitlin Fifield to Softball Coaching Staff

UTEP Softball Head Coach Tobin Echo-Hawk announced the additions of UTEP Athletics Hall of Famer, Camilla Carrera, and former player Kaitlin Fifield as assistant coaches on Tuesday afternoon.

“I’m excited to add both Kaitlin (Fifield) and Cami (Carrera) to our staff.” Echo-Hawk said. “They bleed orange, and it is always special when you can have alumni on staff. I am excited to see how they help elevate our team on the field.”

Fifield and Carrera are the first two alumni to return to the Miners in a full-time coaching capacity.

Carrera played for the Miners from 2008-2012. During that time she became UTEP’s all-time leader in batting average (.401), on-base percentage (.508), games started (219), hits (260), home runs (61) and RBIs (197). Her historic 2012 season produced an NCAA record 0.60 home runs per game, leading the nation in homers (32) and slugging percentage (1.199).

Carrera became the first All-American in UTEP softball history, was a two-time Conference USA Player of the Year, and was inducted into the UTEP Athletics Hall of Fame in 2018.

Carrera hopes to bring that same level of excellence to her new role as assistant coach under Echo-Hawk. She previously served as a graduate assistant for NM State during the 2019 season. The UTEP Hall-of-Famer brings four additional years of coaching experience at Omaha (2017-2018) and Alvin CC (2014-1017) to the staff.

“I am beyond excited to be back at UTEP and back in El Paso.” Carrera said. “I am lucky to be working with such a great staff and athletes. This program has a bright future, and I am proud to say that I am a part of it.”

Kaitlin Fifield pitched for the Orange and Blue from 2014-2017. She threw the fifth no-hitter in UTEP history against Texas A&M CC Feb. 27, 2016, where she registered nine strikeouts with only one walk in 7.0 innings pitched. Fifield is also tied for third in all-time wins (24), and complete games (34) for UTEP pitchers.

The El Paso native, who played her high school ball at Chapin high school, was previously a graduate assistant on the 2019 UTEP squad. She is also the first El Pasoan to be a coach for the Miner softball program.

“I am so excited and thankful to be an assistant at UTEP.” Fifield noted. “To be able to continue to help this program succeed is such an amazing opportunity, and I cant wait to get started. Picks up and go Miners.”

UTEP Softball’s Pamala Baber honored with C-USA Spirit of Service Award

UTEP junior Pamala Baber, a member of the Miner softball team, was named one of 14 recipients of Conference USA Spirit of Service Awards for spring sports on Thursday.

A native of Rialto, California, Baber is majoring in Health Promotions with a minor in Nutrition and sports a 3.76 grade point average.  She completed over 30 community service hours this year, including working with the Miracle League, the Ronald McDonald House and Special Olympics.

Baber is a two-time Conference USA Academic Medalist (minimum 3.75 GPA) and a three-time member of the C-USA Commissioner’s Academic Honor Roll (minimum 3.0 GPA).  She is also a former NFCA Scholar Athlete.

On the field, the utility player is a career .249 hitter with seven home runs and 37 RBI.  She was named the C-USA Hitter of the Week on Feb. 26, 2018.

The award honors the league’s student-athletes with significant community service endeavors, excellent academic standing and notable athletic achievements.

The Spirit of Service award is presented three times during the athletic year.

UTEP’s Kacey Duffield Earns NFCA All-Region Honors

LOUISVILLE, Ky.– UTEP softball’s Kacey Duffield earned National Fast Pitch Association All-Region third team honors, the NFCA announced on Thursday.

Duffield adds the NFCA All-Region selection to her senior season filled with accolades.

The Fairbanks, Alaska, native was named to the All-Conference USA First team, and was the C-USA Player of the Week (3/11).

The first baseman led the team in batting average (.388), hits (53) and on-base percentage (.482). She reached base safely in 44 of the Miners’ 50 games this season and produced a program-record 20-fielded double plays.

Duffield is only the seventh player in UTEP history to earn All-Region honors, and is the first since Courtney Clayton did it last season.

Miners Fall To Middle Tennessee In The C-USA Tournament

BIRMINGHAM – The UTEP softball team (17-33) fell to Middle Tennessee (28-26), 4-3, in a thrilling round-one game of the Conference USA Tournament at Mary Bowers Field Wednesday afternoon.

Julia Wright threw 6.2 innings in the game, recording three strikeouts. Pate Cathey registered a hit and two RBIs. Ariana Valles posted two hits, and Kacey Duffield and Cortney Smith both knocked doubles.

The Miners and Blue Raiders were engaged in a pitching duel. The two teams mustered up two hits each through the first three innings of play. UTEP’s hits were both doubles, from Smith and Duffield in the second and third innings, respectively.

The Orange and Blue had a scoring opportunity in the top of the third when Duffield doubled, and then Valles benefited from an infield single. However, Duffield and Valles stayed stranded on the base paths, keeping the score tied at 0-0.

The Blue Raiders drew first blood, scoring the first run of the game in the bottom of the fourth. Two errors from the UTEP defense helped the Middle Tennessee cause, and gave it the 1-0 advantage.

The Blue Raiders had a chance to add to the lead in the bottom of the fifth inning. A pair of base hits, and a sacrifice bunt put runners on first and second with two outs. A ball was hit by the Middle Tennessee batter into the shallow infield, but freshman Cathey made a diving snag to end the frame and the threat.

Still facing the 1-0 gap, UTEP was relying on the top of the order in the sixth inning to produce. With one out, Kasey Flores hit a ball that seemed destined to tie up the contest. However, the wind coming in from the outfield held the ball within the park, and UTEP was still down.

Middle Tennessee, once again had runners on second and third with two outs in the bottom of the sixth. The batter hit a ball into centerfield that looked like it would drop and score the two base runners, but Pamala Baber made an incredible diving catch to keep the game within reach of UTEP.

Smith, who holds the biggest bat on the UTEP roster, led off the seventh frame. The senior hit a rocket into center, but once again the wind kept it contained as it was caught on the warning track. Valles came to the plate, with two outs seemingly left in season. She was down 0-2 in the count, but she came up huge with a double and advanced to third on an error.

Lindsey Sokoloski slapped a hit to short that scored Valles and tied the contest. Linda Garcia followed with a single and Ariel Blair reached on an error to load the bases. Cathey, the freshman, stepped up big time and singled to score two runs and give the Miners a two-run lead going into the final inning, 3-1.

The Blue Raiders stayed composed, however. MT used two singles to begin the inning before a triple tied it up at 3-3. With one out, a long fly ball was hit to right field. Blair caught it and made a great throw, but the runner slid in safely to end the thrilling first-round game at 4-3.

Notes

>> Miners post a 17-33 record on the year

>> UTEP registered the lowest amount of errors is a season in program history (45)

UTEP Softball Garners Three All-C-USA Honors

DALLAS – UTEP senior Kacey Duffield was named to the 2019 All-Conference USA first team while Kasey Flores and Pate Cathey were both given All-Freshman team distinction, as announced by league officials Tuesday.

Cathey and Flores are the first pair of Miners in program history to be named all-frosh during the same season.

“Excited for Kacey Duffield. She worked hard all year.” UTEP Head Coach Tobin Echo-Hawk said. “She’s been one of our most consistent players. Great at the plate, great at first base and has great energy. This couldn’t have happened to a better kid.”

Duffield is receiving her fist all-conference honor, and is the seventh player in UTEP history to be named to the All-C-USA first team. The slugger leads the team in batting average (.390), hits (53), on-base percentage (.485) and slugging percentage (.640). The first baseman has only committed two errors on the year with a .992 fielding percentage and a team-high 259 putouts. The senior is leading the league in fielding double plays with 20 and her batting average ranks second amongst all players in the conference.

“It’s nice to know we can get two freshmen on that list.” Echo-Hawk said. “It just shows we have a lot of potential going forward. We are going to need it next year because we lose seven key seniors, so it’s nice to have those two that can step into those roles to help us out.”

Cathey and Flores become the eighth and ninth players in program history to be named to the All-Freshman team, joining teammate Ariana Valles who was named to the team during her freshman campaign a year ago.

Flores began the season with a bang, hitting two home runs in her debut game with seven RBIs, and earning C-USA Player of the Week to begin her career. The utility player set a freshman record at UTEP with 39 RBIs, passing Chelsea Troupe’s mark of 36 in 2009. The El Paso product is second on the team in batting average (.359), hits (51), total bases (88) and third in home runs (nine).

Cathey has been a staple of the Miner defense, converting web gem after web gem at second base. Her bat has been just as reliable as her glove. The second baseman is third on the squad in batting average (.326) and hits (43). During senior weekend, Cathey led off two games with a home run. Against top-75 RPI opponents the freshman is leading the team with a .400 batting average and 18 hits.

Their efforts helped the 2019 Miners advance to the C-USA Tournament in Birmingham, Ala. It’s the first postseason for the program since the 2016 campaign.

UTEP will take on defending tournament champions Middle Tennessee May 8 with first pitch set for 12:30 p.m. MT/2:30 ET at Mary Bowers Field in first-round action.

A victory would advance UTEP to the second round against no. 3-seed WKU Wednesday night at 5:30 p.m. MT. All games will be streamed on ESPN+, while the championship contest will be televised on CBS Sports Network May 11.

Linda Garcia wins C-USA Player of the Week; Team prepares for C-USA Tourney in Birmingham

UTEP softball’s Linda Garcia won Conference USA Player of the Week, the league announced Monday afternoon.

“I couldn’t be more excited for Linda.” UTEP Head Coach Tobin Echo-Hawk said. “She’s worked hard all year offensively and it couldn’t have happened at a better time.”

Garcia batted .714 during senior weekend with five hits and four RBIs. During Saturday’s doubleheader the senior went a perfect 4-4 with a huge home run that sparked a UTEP comeback in game one of the series.

The catcher also threw out two runners stealing in game three, placing her at second in conference in the category. She has caught 40 runners in her career attempting to steal, which is third in the UTEP record books.

Garcia is the fourth different player to win a conference weekly honor this season, joining Kasey Flores, Kacey Duffield and Julia Wright. Four different players earning the honor is the most in Miner history for a single season.

Last season, Kaitlyn Ryder earned C-USA Player of the Week honors on senior weekend. Garcia makes it back-to-back years that the league has honored a Miner on the final weekend of the regular season.

Now the UTEP softball team (17-32, 10-14 Conference USA) prepares for their fifth trip to the C-USA Tournament in program history and first since the 2016 campaign.

The seventh-seed Miners will take on sixth-seed and defending conference champions Middle Tennessee in the first round of the 2019 Air Force Reserve Softball Championship on Wednesday (12:30 p.m. MT) at Mary Bowers Field (UAB).

The Orange and Blue will face single elimination on day one of the tournament. With a victory against Middle Tennessee, UTEP will advance to play WKU later that day at 5:30 p.m. MT.

If the Miners were to advance past day one then the tournament becomes double elimination, and a matchup versus LA Tech on Thursday (2:30 p.m. MT) would be on the docket.

UTEP could see a variety of different scenarios once Friday comes around. Either two games could be played or just one depending on if the Miners were to win or lose at that stage in the tournament.

UTEP will take on defending C-USA tournament champions Middle Tennessee (11-13, C-USA) in the first round on Wednesday at 12:30 p.m. MT. The Miners are 10-5 all-time against the Blue Raiders.

Middle Tennessee finished sixth in the C-USA standings and are led by junior-slugger Lexi Cushing, who has 15 homers on the year. Pitching wise, the Raiders are relying on Corrina Dodd. Dodd leads the team in wins (12) and opponent batting average (.256). Middle Tennessee is 2-9 in its last 11 conference contests, but are coming off of a series victory at North Texas.

If the Miners are able to defeat the reigning C-USA tourney champions then they will face three-seed WKU (18-6, C-USA) at 5:30 p.m. MT on Wednesday. If UTEP wins that game and advances to day two, then the tournament becomes double elimination format, and a matchup against LA Tech will be awaiting the Orange and Blue on Thursday (2:30 p.m. MT).

The championship will be on Saturday at 10 a.m. MT.

All games will be streamed on the ESPN+ network until the championship game, which will be televised on the CBS Sports Network.

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Senior Day Ends In a Walk-Off As UTEP Clinches Seventh Seed

The UTEP softball team (17-32, 10-14 Conference USA) defeated FIU (26-25, 7-16 C-USA), 11-3 [5], to clinch the seven seed in the C-USA Tournament and send off the UTEP seniors on a winning note.

“Happy to send the seniors out on a great note. Couldn’t have ended any more perfect, with Kacey (Duffield) with the walk-off for the run-rule. Everybody contributed, and every single senior did something today to help our team win,” Coach Tobin Echo-Hawks said. It’s a true model of who they are as people, and what they mean to this team. Super excited to clinch the seventh seed. It makes our life a little bit easier for when we get there. At the end of the day I am just happy we got this win and gave these seniors a great day.”

Ariana Valles went 3-3 with four RBIs on the day. The sophomore connected on a pair of two-run doubles, the first during a three-run first and the second came during a three-run third frame.

Senior Kacey Duffield singled in the game-winning run, while senior Julia Wright picked up her 11th win of the season and 18th during her two-year career, ranking tied for fifth in program history.

The seniors on Senior Day got big time help from their two stud freshmen Pate Cathey and Kasey Flores to start the game. Cathey smacked her second lead-off dinger of the weekend, and Flores followed up with a double. Flores and Duffield were both brought in by a Valles double, giving the Miners a 3-0 advantage.

The Golden Panthers answered with three runs of their own in the top of the second, knotting senior day up at 3-3.

The Sun City struck again, as a ball hit by Flores fell into the infield due to the third baseman being blinded by the sun in the third. Senior Cortney Smith then reached on an error, and Valles once again came through with a two-run double. The shortstop was brought in after a sacrifice fly from Ilena Santos that gave the Miners its second three run lead of the day, 6-3.

The Miners struck gold in the bottom of the fifth. Valles and Santos both singled and then scored when Garcia smacked a base hit that turned into three bases because off an error. Senior Ariel Blair came up huge with a triple into centerfield, and was eventually brought in by Cathey.

The Miners only needed one run to complete senior day with a run-rule victory. Who better to have at the plate than Duffield with freshman Cathey in scoring position?

The senior hit the ball into right field, and the freshman raced around the bases to score, sending the seniors and rest of the Miners into a frenzy.

Notes

>> Clinched seventh seed in C-USA Tournament

> Wright recorded her 11th victory of the season and is now tied for fifth all-time with 18

 

UTEP Softball Clinches C-USA Tournament Berth; Will celebrate Senior Day Sunday

The UTEP softball team (16-32, 9-14 Conference USA) defeated FIU (26-24, 7-15 C-USA), 8-4, in game one to clinch a C-USA tournament bid on Saturday afternoon at Helen of Troy Softball Complex. The Orange and Blue later fell, 4-2, to FIU in game two.

“Super big win for our seniors and our program. To get back to the conference tournament just shows how hard these kids have worked all year. Sometimes it’s not pretty, but they never quit. That is the one thing I am super proud of the about,”  Coach Tobin Echo-Hawks said.

The Miners clinched their first C-USA Tournament berth since 2016, after defeating FIU in game one. Currently, UTEP sits at seventh in the conference standings, needing a win on Sunday to clinch the seed.

Linda Garcia went a perfect 4-4 at the plate for the day with one home run and three RBIs. Cortney Smith registered two homers and three RBIs, and became only the fourth player in program history with more than 30 dingers. Pate Cathey tallied three hits, including a lead-off home run in game one. Kasey Flores posted two hits and an RBI during the doubleheader.

Julia Wright earned her 10th victory in game one, throwing a complete game. Allie Johnson locked in a career high in strikeouts (six) and innings pitched (5.2) in game two, while only allowing one run.

Game One

UTEP began game one with a bang, as Cathey smoked a dinger into center field to give the Miners the early momentum.

The Golden Panthers were not going to lay down, as they scored one run on a sac fly and then a two-run homer gave them a 3-1 advantage at Helen of Troy.

Garcia knew her team needed a boost after losing the lead. The senior took one deep with a solo shot, breathing life back into her squad to make the count 3-2.

The Miners were still dealing with the one-run deficit heading into the fifth frame, but UTEP’s offense had something ready for FIU. Cathey led off the inning with a double and was brought in by Flores to tie the contest. Valles, added to the damage with a two-run double. Garcia came up big again, earning two more RBIs on a single into left field that gave the Orange and Blue a 7-3 cushion.

FIU got one run back in the sixth, but Smith immediately answered with her 13th homer this year and 30th of her career to make the score 8-4 in favor of the home team.

The Golden Panthers had nothing left in top of the seventh, and watched as the Miners celebrated their first C-USA Tournament berth since 2016, and eliminated them from post season contention.

Game Two

UTEP fell in game two of the day by the score of 4-2. FIU got the scoring started, when a passed ball allowed a run to score.

Flores walked in the bottom half of the frame. The Sun City made its presence known, when a ball hit by Smith that would normally be a routine pop out became an RBI triple due to the El Paso sun effecting the FIU right fielder.

The Golden Eagles posted three more runs through four innings of play, gaining a 4-1 lead.

Smith continued to swing her scorching hot bat in the sixth frame, and sent her 14th bomb of the season into deep left field, chopping the lead down to two runs, 4-2.

Johnson entered the game in the second inning, and finished the contest, throwing a career high in strikeouts (six) and innings pitched (5.2).

The Orange and Blue got the game-tying run to the plate in the bottom of the seventh, but were unable to convert.

On deck, UTEP softball will look for the series victory today at noon on Senior Day.

Notes

>> Clinched first C-USA Tournament berth since the 2016 season

>> Smith became the fourth player in program history to hit 30 or more home runs in a career

>> Smith’s 14 home runs this year is tied for third by a Miner in a single season (Troupe had 14 in 2011)

>> Johnson posted a career-high six strikeouts and 5.2 innings pitched

>> Duffield has reached base in 42 of the Miners’ 48 games this season

>> Wright recorded her 10th victory of the season and 17th of her career, needing one to crack the top five in program history

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