After Tuesday’s disappointing loss to rival NM State, the UTEP softball team will look to rebound against Conference USA West Division foe UAB on April 23-24 at the Helen of Troy Softball Complex. The weekend series is free for all kids.
Saturday’s doubleheader is set for a 1 p.m. start, while Sunday’s contest is set for noon. The Miners (19-25, 10-5 C-USA) are trying to maintain their first-place spot, while the Blazers (19-24, 9-6 C-USA) are looking to bump them out in an all important weekend series.
UAB will make its fifth trip to the Sun City as the two programs have played at the Helen of Troy Field 12 times.
The team is practicing today at 2 p.m. and Friday at 1 p.m.
The Blazers (19-24, 9-6 C-USA) are currently ranked second in Conference USA West Division following the Miners. UAB recently earned its ninth conference victory as the Blazers competed against FIU April 16-17 in a three-game conference series. The Blazers swept the Panthers in a doubleheader on the first day of the series, 3-1 and 9-1; however fell to UAB, 11-3 in the series finale. UAB also recently faced off in a tough battle against No. 2/3 Auburn on April 13 where Auburn came out on top, 8-1.
The Blazers are hitting a .264 batting average with 22 home runs. Caitlin Attfield leads UAB with a .366 average and contributes 11 RBI to the Blazers’ efforts, while Mary Warren (.290 average) leads with eight home runs and 25 RBI. The UAB pitching staff has a total 4.57 ERA in 272.2 innings, as Cara Goodwin (10-7) paces the team with a 3.67 ERA in 120 innings and 93 strikeouts.
Attfield was also selected ninth overall during the second round of the 2016 National Pro Fastpitch Draft by the Dallas Charge, becoming the first Blazer in program history to be drafted by the NPF.
All-Time Series vs. UAB
The Blazers lead the all-time series 18-9, including victories in the 12 of the last 13 contests going back to April 25, 2010. The series started on May 6, 2006 at the Helen of Troy Softball Complex. The Miners’ last victory came on April 22, 2012, by the score of 7-0 in El Paso. In fact, the 2012 season was the last time UAB made a trip to the Sun City; the Blazers won the series 2-1. In 12 contests played in the El Paso, the Miners and Blazers are even at 6-6.
Last Series (UTEP 0, UAB 3)
UAB swept UTEP 3-0 on March 14-15, 2015 in Birmingham. The Blazers outscored the Miners 12-4 (7-2, 3-2, 2-0) in the three contests. Ashley Eldridge (two RBI), Courtney Clayton (one RBI) and Danielle Pearson (one RBI) contributed all four runs. Though Kaitlin Fifield lost two contests, she fashioned a 2.33 ERA in 12.0 innings (four earned runs).
Fifeld added a pair of walks and eight Ks. Fifield threw 6.0 frames in game three, walking none and striking out two in the, 2-0, loss.
C-USA Games in the Sun City
UTEP is currently 5-1 at home in Conference USA games, including a 19-11 mark the last three seasons. UTEP fashioned a 9-3 record last season. The Miners hit .345 in 2014 (12 games); .358 in 2015 and .351 this season.
A Look at C-USA
Florida Atlantic (13-2 Conference USA) is currently the no. 1 overall seed, while UTEP (10-5 C-USA) remains at no. 2. West Division programs UAB (9-6), Southern Miss (10-8) and UTSA (9-9) have the no. 3-5 seeds, while East Division schools Charlotte (7-8), WKU (7-8) and FIU (8-10) round out the standings.
The 2016 C-USA Tournament will by played May 11-14in Denton (North Texas). The top three team from each division will earn spots, while two wild card team from either division will round out the field.
Sun City Hurler
Kaitlin Fifield is 12-7 at the Helen of Troy Softball Complex dating back to 2014. The El Paso made her mark last season in her hometown with an 8-3 record. This season, Fifield is 3-4 overall and 2-1 in league games.
Best Start in League Play
UTEP’s 10-5 Conference USA record is the best start in program history and is one win away from tying the most conference victories in program history – an 11-13 mark in 2010. The 2008 season was the only other year the Miners tallied double-digits in wins (10-14). UTEP also won a school record eight consecutive league games, sweeping LA Tech (March 19-20), FIU (March 25-26) and winning the first two games against UTSA (April 2). The Miners have also won four consecutive league series after taking two of three at Middle Tennessee April 16-17.
Last Weekend (UTEP 2, MTSU 1)
UTEP won two of three contests at Middle Tennessee on April 16-17 to remain in first place in the West Division. The Miners hit an outstanding .379 with five home runs, 19 runs and 18 RBI. Linda Garcia led the charge, as she hit .600 with a pair of jacks and four RBI. Garcia connected on a two-run home run during a 7-2 victory in game one. She also hit a solo shot in game two and came up with a huge RBI double during a come-from-behind 9-6 win in game three.
After rallying to beat Middle Tennessee on April 17, the Miners are proving to come up with clutch hitting. UTEP scored five runs in the seventh after being down 6-4 that resulted in a 9-6 triumph. The Miners have shown in multiple games that they can rally to beat teams. On Feb. 13 against Incarnate Word, UTEP scored three runs in the top seventh, resulting in a 5-3 win.
On March 19 against LA Tech, the Miners were down 6-4 after two frames, but came back to outscore the Lady Techsters 9-1 to claim a 13-7 win. In game two against the same squad, LA Tech tied the contest 6-6 with a three-run sixth and the Miners won 7-6 in the bottom eighth. At FIU (March 25-26), UTEP found itself down in a trio of contests, but rallied to win all three. UTEP was down 3-0 to UTSA on April 2 and rallied win 5-3.
UTEP’s offense has been a hit thus far in 2016. The Miners rank first in doubles (63) and total bases (555) in Conference USA. The squad also ranks second in home runs (39) behind LA Tech (44), second in hitting (.316) behind FIU (.321), while also ranking no. 2 in slugging (.476) behind LA Tech (.481), and hits (369) behind FIU (387). UTEP ranks fifth in on-base percentage (.367), fifth in runs scored (206). The Miners rank fifth in RBI (181).
The Miners have connected on 39 home runs so far in 2016, matching last season’s total. UTEP is on pace for around 47 home runs this season, which would finish fourth-best all-time. The Miners hit 45 in 2008, 50 in 2007, 57 in 2006, 62 in 2012 and a program-best 63 in 2009.
Crossing the Dish
UTEP has scored 206 runs in 2016 and is on pace for around 248 runs at 4.7 runs per game. The most runs scored all-time is 306 in 2007. It’s also the most runs per game since third-year head coach Tobin Echo-Hawk took over the program, while it’s the most since the Miners averaged 4.8 runs per game in 2010.
Grinding out Doubles
UTEP, after tallying seven more doubles at Middle Tennessee this past weekend, leads Conference USA with 63. The Miners have three players in the top 10 in Conference USA in doubles, as Courtney Clayton (15) leads the way; Taylor Sargent (12) is tied fourth with Southern Miss’ Tori Dew and Kiki Pepi (11) is ranked sixth. The Miners are on pace for around 76 doubles, which would be the fourth most in program history. The 2008 team tallied 87 doubles, most all-time.
Connecting on Knocks
UTEP is averaging 8.4 hits per game. If the Miners keep this pace, they will have connected on 444 hits in 2016, which would rank no. 1 all-time. The 2009 squad set the program standard with 442 hits.
Potent Offense in League Play
UTEP ranks first in just about every offensive category in Conference USA game only. The Miners are hitting .354 in 15 league games – best in C-USA. The Miners also rank first in home runs (18), doubles (30), slugging (.544), on-base percentage (.394), total bases (241), RBI (80), hits (157) and runs (86).
UTEP has committed 53 errors during the first 44 games in 2016, seven less than last season at this time. If the Miners keep this pace, they will have committed around 63 errors, which would be the second-least in program history. The 2007 defense committed only 59 in 2007. The fielding has improved, somewhat, during the last few seasons.
In 2012, UTEP committed 86 errors, while in 2013, 81 miscues were scored. Since Tobin Echo-Hawk and Cristina Cobb-Adams – both infielders in college – arrived to the Sun City, the Miners committed 69 in 2014 and 73 last season. North Texas (26) has committed the least amount of miscues in 2016.
The Miners rank second in Conference USA with 20 double plays turned. Middle Tennessee leads the league with 21. OnMarch 13, UTEP tied a program record by turning a trio of double plays at Marshall. The feat as been achieved three other times – the last time being Feb. 13, 2005 against North Texas.
Last season, UTEP tied a program record with the 2007 team by registering 21 double plays. The Miners are on pace for about 25 double plays, which would rank no. 1 in school history. The Conference USA record is 32, by the 2009 UCF squad. FIU led the league in 2015 (24 DPs).
Born to Assist
The UTEP defense has shown considerable improvement, as it ranks first in Conference USA with 417 assists. The Miners are on pace for around 502 assists, which would be the most in school history. The 2015 squad recorded 489 (most in program history), while the 2009 team registered 488.
Linda’s Big Weekend
Starting catcher Linda Garcia had a breakout weekend at Middle Tennessee April 16-17. The sophomore hit .600 (6-for-10) with a pair of home runs, four RBI, a double, three runs scored and her first-career stolen base. Garcia tied her career high in hits on a 3-for-4 performance in game one. She connected on a two-run home run that helped put the game away. She hit another home run the second game, a solo shot, while she registered an RBI double in game three that ignited a five-run seventh.
Garcia has made a dramatic improvement from her first year, hitting .281 with five home runs, three doubles and 15 RBI. Last season, Garcia hit .192 with three jacks and 10 RBI.
Danielle Pearson has hit the ball well this season, but had a pair of clutch hits in particular. Pearson came up with a big hit in the series finale at Middle Tennessee on April 17. With the score 6-5 in favor of the Blue Raiders, Pearson was inserted as a pinch hitter and came up with a go-ahead two-run double on a 0-2 count.
The Miners went on to win the contest 9-6. OnMarch 19 against LA Tech, Pearson recorded a single in the bottom of the eighth that brought the game-winning run across the dish during a 7-6 victory.
Leadoff hitter Courtney Clayton has had a sensational sophomore campaign thus far. Clayton is one of three Conference USA hitters with an average over .400. The Cornelius, Ore., native is ranked second with a .414 (63-for-152) batting average behind Marshall’s Kaelynn Greene (.458), while ranking no. 64 nationally.
Clayton leads the league with 15 doubles, while ranking second in hits (63), second in total bases (98), sixth in runs (36), fifth in slugging (.645) and tied ninth in RBI (32). Clayton has only struck out eight times in 152 at bats, as she ranks fifth in C-USA and 88 nationally in toughest to strikeout. Clayton’s .475 (29-for-61) average in league only games is ranked second, while her 29 hits and seven doubles rank first in C-USA.
Courtney Clayton is ranked no. 1 in Conference USA with 15 doubles. Her 0.34 doubles per game also ranks first in conference and 34th nationally. Camilla Carrera holds the school standard with 19 doubles in 2009. Ashley Eldridge (2014),Chelsea Troupe (2009) and Ashley Bennett (2005) each tallied 17 – second best in school history.
Clayton set her career high with two doubles against Grand Canyon on Feb. 21 and has accomplished the feat two more times (at Marshall onMarch 12; vs. New Mexico on March 15). East Carolina’s Kate Manuse holds the C-USA single-season record with 26 in 2004.
Clayton’s Career Average
Currently, Courtney Clayton’s career batting average is .357 (114-for-319) and ranked tied no. 3 on the all-time hitting list.Camilla Carrera is the all-time leader (.401 avg.), while Chelsea Troupe (.384) and Erika Arcuri (.357) round out the list. Clayton is 23 hits and two doubles from cracking the all-time list in each respective category. Clayton’s .564-career slugging is also ranked fourth all-time.
Kiki Pepi has been stellar at the plate since arriving to UTEP. The San Diego, Calif., native is ranked third in Conference USA with 38 RBI, behind LA Tech’s Briana Daiss (42 RBI) and FIU Stephanie Texeira (39). Pepi ranked third on the team in hitting (.319) and ranks tied second in home runs (six).
Pepi has contributed with 45 hits, 18 runs, 11 doubles and a triple. After a 2-for-17 slump (March 4-12), Pepi is hitting .329 (23-for-70) with 16 RBI and a pair of home runs in her last 21 games (March 12-April 19). And after not recording an RBI in six straight contests (March 6-15), Pepi has tallied 16 RBI during the last 17 contests (March 19-April 19).
Vacuuming at Third Base
Kiki Pepi’s glove has been a Hoover at third base in 2016. The junior set a school record with nine assists at FIU in game one on March 25. The previous record was seven assists; accomplished seven times by six players. Pepi currently ranks third in Conference USA with 104 assists and is on pace for around 125, which would be a program record.
Pepi’s nine assists are also a game high in C-USA this season. Stacie Townsend holds the program single-season record with 114 in 2009.
Sophomore Taylor Sargent’s bat has made a dramatic improvement after hitting .232 in 2015. The native of Albuquerque, N.M., has been drilling doubles, ranking tied fourth in Conference USA with 12. Sargent ranks fourth on the team in hitting (.315), while connecting on two home runs with 16 RBI and 18 runs scored.
Defensively, Sargent has played first base and right field, pretty much splitting time between the two positions. She ranks second on the team in putouts (143). She ended a 10-game hitting streak (March 25-April 17), batting .324 (12-for-37) during that span. It’s the longest streak on the team thus far.
More from Moreno
Hope Moreno has seen more playing time as of late, while providing solid fielding and hitting. During her last 18 games (March 15-April 19), the sophomore is hitting .442 (23-for-52) with nine RBI, eight runs, five doubles and a pair of home runs. Her three-run bomb put the Miners up 9-2 in game two against UTSA on April 2.
Moreno also connected on a clutch two-run jack at FIU on March 26 that gave her squad a 6-3 lead. Moreno also recorded 13 putouts in back-to-back games on March 25, while recording 10 more the next day. The previous nine games (Feb. 26-March 12), Moreno hit .238 (5-for-21). Moreno is hitting .425 (17-for-40) in league only games and is ranked seventh in Conference USA in that category.
The Ryd Stuff
Kaitlin Ryder had a good weekend at Middle Tennessee, hitting .462 (6-for-13) with a pair of RBI and a double. The Chatsworth, Calif., native has made a dramatic improvement in the batter’s box in 2016. After hitting .241 last year, the sophomore ranks second on the team in batting (.351), while leading in on-base percentage (.442).
Ryder also has three home runs, 21 RBI, ranks second on the team in runs (25), while digging out five doubles and a triple. Ryder has also shown patience at the plate, walking a team-high 20 times (ranks tied seventh in Conference USA).
Kawehi’s Bat Coming Alive
Senior outfielder Kawehiokalani Netane struggled the first part of the season. Netane hit .224 (11-for-49) with only one home run and four RBI in 20 games (Feb. 11-March 5). The last 24 contests, Netane is hitting .317 (20-for-63) with seven jacks, 16 RBI and 14 runs scored. She also registered a career-high two home runs and six RBI against Mount St. Mary’s on March 5 to begin the 24-game stretch.
Two More Wins for Fifield
Kaitlin Fifield has pitched well in Conference USA contests in 2016. After picking up a pair of wins at Middle Tennessee April 16-17, the junior is now 8-13 overall, but most importantly 6-3 in league games. After a 0-2 start in league play, Fifield has fashioned a 6-1 mark (March 19-April 17). Also with the two wins, Fifield is now ranked no. 4 on the all-time wins list in program history.