The series finale is Sunday during Middle Tennessee’s Senior Day. First pitch is set for a noon CT/11 a.m. MT start.
Two seasons ago the UTEP softball team faced Missouri and lost both contests in five innings. On Friday, the Miners competed with the perineal Southeastern Conference power and fell short, 3-0, to open the 2018 campaign.
“[Missouri] is a great team and if you look at two years ago, when we played them, it wasn’t close. I’m proud of these kids today,” UTEP fifth-year head coach Tobin Echo-Hawk said. “The team went out and played some great defense and made some big plays when they need to. We also had some great pitching but didn’t get it done offensively.”
The Miners (0-1) received a solid outing from transfer junior pitcher Julia Wright, who made her first career start in the circle. Wright threw 5.0 frames with a pair of strikeouts and two walks.
“[Julia] held her own,” Echo-Hawk said. “What I ask from [the pitchers] is to maintain their composure. If they give up a hit or whatever, it’s not the hit that matters, it’s what you do for that next batter. I think she did a great job of getting hitters out when we needed the out.”
The UTEP defense also turned a pair of double plays after turning 60 the last two years. The bats, however, only came up with two hits. The first came off senior Taylor Sargent’s bat during the fifth and the second by senior Kaitlin Ryder in the sixth.
Wright held the Tigers (1-0) scoreless until the third frame. Mizzou leadoff hitter Regan Nash led off the third inning with a single to shortstop and followed with a stolen base. The bad throw to second on the stolen bag went to center field and Nash crossed the dish for a 1-0 advantage.
The Tigers scored two more runs in the sixth. The first came when Cayla Kessinger led off the frame with a frozen rope up the middle and followed by snagging second base. Trenity Edwards connected on a ball to right field thrown by reliever Devyn Cretz, but a dropped ball by the right fielder scored Kessinger for a 2-0 lead. Brooke Wilmes was inserted as a pinch runner for Edwards and would eventually cross the dish when Kolby Romaine doubled her in for a 3-0 lead.
Other UTEP transfer pitcher Kira McKechnie replaced Cretz with bases loaded in the sixth, but the UTEP defense turned its second double play of the contest to end the inning. Amanda Sanchez lined out to freshman left fielder Ilena Santos, who then proceeded to use her cannon arm to throw out the runner at second for UTEP’s 62nd double play turned in the last 104 games over the last two seasons.
The Miners will return to action on Saturday to face Saint Mary’s College (CA) at 11:30 a.m. MT and no. 3 Oregon at 7:45 p.m. The weekend will conclude on Sunday against UC Davis and San Jose State.