After a winless start to 2017, the UTEP softball team will look to bounce back at the DeMarini Desert Classic in Las Vegas, Nev. on Feb. 17-19. It will mark the fourth season in a row that the Miners will play in the annual Vegas weekend.
UTEP will face all Mountain West programs as it opens against host school UNLV (5:45 p.m. MT) and Nevada (8:00 p.m.) on Friday at Eller Media Stadium near the campus of UNLV. On the second day, the Miners will take on a Boise State (1:15 p.m.) and Utah State (5:45 p.m.). The weekend will conclude against San Jose State (10 a.m.). The Miners will play at Stephanie Lynn Craig Park on days two and three.
BREAKING DOWN THE DEMARINI DESERT CLASSIC
UTEP will play its first two contests at Eller Media Stadium against UNLV and Nevada. The Miners will be the designated ‘home’ team against the Wolf Pack. On Saturday at Stephanie Lynn Park, UTEP will be the designated ‘away’ team versus Boise State (Field 2), while the Miners will move to the bottom half of the scoreboard against Utah State (Field 2).
On Sunday at SLC Park, UTEP will finish the weekend as the designated ‘away’ team against San Jose State (Field 1).
UTEP started the 2017 campaign 0-5 after falling to Stanford (10-1), Arizona State (8-0 ), Saint Mary’s College (3-1), Virginia (5-4) and no. 17 Utah (9-0 ) Feb. 9-11 at the Kajikawa Classic in Tempe, Ariz. The Miners hit .189 and scored six runs. The pitching staff tallied an 8.06 ERA, while walking 33 batters.
Taylor Sargent got off to a solid start, hitting .385 (5-of-13) and producing 31 putouts in five starts at first base. The second day, however, for the Miners was a better showing. Saint Mary’s College scored a pair of runs in the top sixth inning to take the lead an eventual victory, while Virginia rallied from a 4-2 deficit by scoring a trio of runs in the bottom sixth to defeat UTEP.
ALL-TIME SERIES VS. UNLV
UTEP is 1-3 all-time against UNLV. The Miners, behind Danielle Pearson’s first career shutout, blanked the Rebels, 6-0, on Feb. 19, 2016. Pearson hurled a complete game, allowing only three hits, walking two and striking out five on 87 pitches. Courtney Clayton went 2-for-3 with a pair of RBI and a run scored. Kiki Pepi also registered two RBI on a double to left in the first inning that gave her squad an early 2-0 lead.
The Rebels started off their season going 3-2 at the Sportco Kick Off Classic last weekend. UNLV defeated Virginia Tech, 10-2, Louisville, 5-3 and Southern Utah, 4-0, while falling short to Indiana State, 11-5 and CSU Bakersfield, 5-1. As a team, the Rebels hit .319, with a total of 43 hits, 23 RBI’s and scoring 25 runs.
Brianna Gatlin led the team at the plate going 8-for-16 with two doubles, two triples, and four RBI. The Rebel pitchers recorded a team ERA of 3.09, with their senior of the staff, Morgan Ettinger, leading with a 2-0 start and a 1.20 ERA. She recorded 11 strikeouts, four walks and a save.
ALL-TIME SERIES VS. NEVADA
UTEP is 2-10 all-time versus Nevada. The Miners last defeated the Wolf Pack, 8-1, in El Paso on March 27, 2008. The two programs met last season at the DeMarini Desert Classic last year, as Nevada topped UTEP, 8-5, on Feb. 19. The Miners took a 5-1 lead after scoring four runs in the bottom fifth.
The bottom half began with a Taylor Sargent RBI double and ended with a Linda Garcia three-run bomb. But the Wolf Pack answered with four runs of their own in the top sixth and three more in the top seventh to claim victory.
The Wolf Pack started off the 2017 season with a 3-2 mark at the Southeastern Louisiana Lion Classic this past weekend. Nevada took down Southern Illinois, 3-2 (8), Nicholls State, 1-0, and Southeastern Louisiana, 3-1. The Wolf Pack took their two losses from Tennessee-Martin, 12-4 and Army West Point, 6-5.
Kali Sargent posted a 2-1 record, throwing 18.0 innings with five earned runs (1.94 ERA). Sargent tallied 12 Ks to only two walks. McKenna (1-1) Isenberg fanned 27 in 15.2 innings of work. Alyssa Mendez hit .500 with a team-best six RBI and a home run. Jennifer Purcell (.438 BA) registered four RBI during opening weekend.
ALL-TIME SERIES VS. BOISE STATE
UTEP is 0-1 against Boise State. The two schools met back on Feb. 15, 2014 at the Easton Desert Classic in Las Vegas, Nev. as the Broncos defeated the Miners, 16-9, in a game that went over three hours. With the contest knotted 9-9, Boise State rambled off seven runs in the top seventh on only three hits. Kaitlin Fifield saw action, as the then-freshman threw 2.1 innings, walked five and struck out a pair.
SCOUTING BOISE STATE
The Broncos began the season in Hawai’i at the Paradise Classic last weekend. With two of their five games being cancelled due to rain, they left the Island with a 1-2 record. Boise State beat UAB, 4-2, and lost to both Hawai’i, 5-3, and Sacramento State, 8-3. In these first three games, the Broncos offense totaled 20 hits and a .263 average.
Rebekah Cervantes lead the team at the plate recording four hits with two doubles, a home-run and three RBI. The Broncos pitching staff came out of the weekend with an ERA of 6.16, while junior, Paige Reimann, earned her first win of the season with three strikeouts.
ALL-TIME SERIES VS. UTAH STATE
UTEP is 0-2 all-time against Utah State. The Miners and Aggies met on Feb. 20, 2016 at the DeMarini Desert Classic. UTEP fell 6-1 as Utah State allowed only one hit in the contest. Kaitlin Ryder scored the Miners’ lone run on an error.
SCOUTING UTAH STATE
The Aggies attended the Easton Invitational in Fullerton, Calif. to start of their season. Utah State finished the weekend with a record of 4-1, taking down Pacific, 5-3, North Dakota State, 2-1, Loyola Marymount, 9-5, and Cal State Fullerton, 7-3. The Broncos recorded their only loss of the weekend to Loyola Marymount, 3-1, on the last day.
The Aggies hit .261, while scoring 24 runs. Paxton Provost led the Aggies with a .467 batting average (7-of-15), while Amanda Sheets and Sydney Hart each tallied a team-best four RBI. Kellie White posted a 2-0 record in 15.0 innings of work with only four earned runs (2.40 ERA). April Brown (1-0) threw 14.1 innings, fanning 10 and only walking two.
ALL-TIME SERIES VS. SAN JOSE STATE
UTEP is 4-9 all-time versus San Jose State. The Miners last defeated the Spartans, 7-4, on Feb. 12, 2010. The two faced each other on Feb. 20, 2016 at the DeMarini Desert Classic as the Spartans beat up on the Miners, 16-3 (five innings). The score was 5-3 in favor of SJSU heading into the fifth, but SJSU exploded for 11 runs to put the game away.
Kiki Pepi finished the contest 3-for-3 with two RBI, while Kaitlin Ryder added another. Cortney Smith, Courtney Clayton and Pepi each scored runs. Clayton, Ryder and Smith each registered two hits in the game.
SCOUTING SAN JOSE STATE
The Spartans attended the Kajikawa Classic in Tempe, Ariz. to kick off their 2017 season. San Jose State left the weekend with a 3-3 record, taking games from Creighton, 7-3, Virginia, 1-0, and UC Riverside, 11-2 in five innings. The Spartans were defeated by Western Michigan, 5-1, no. 9 Oregon, 8-0, and no. 17 Utah, 8-5.
Although the Spartans only had a .260 batting average as a whole, Casey Watt shined through at the plate with a .438 average and six RBI. Senior pitcher, Katelyn Linford, recorded her first two wins of season with 16 strikeouts.
Seven new Miners saw game action this past weekend in Arizona as freshmen Mallorie Cross, Pamala Baber, Macey Brown, Bryanna Molina and Devyn Cretz experienced their first Division I action. Transfer student-athletes Mariah Ellis and Brianna Red saw the field for the first time in UTEP uniforms as well.
Cross made three starts (two at catcher, one at the designated player) and hit .250, while registering her first career RBI. Cross added six putouts and an assist. Cretz pitched 3.2 innings, struck out four, walked two and allowed three hits with one earned run (1.91 ERA). Ellis went hitless and tallied three putouts in four starts in the outfield. Baber tallied one hit on eight at bats, while scoring a run and producing six putouts in four starts in the outfield. Brown, Red and Molina combined for no hits in six at bats. Red did tally a putout while playing second base.