Ten UTEP softball players will return to their home state of California as the Miners will play four games at the Riverside Classic hosted by UC Riverside Feb. 24-26.
Pamala Baber (Rialto), Devyn Cretz (Corona), Mallorie Cross (Yucaipa), Mariah Ellis (Los Angeles), Linda Garcia (Fontana), Miranda Gutierrez (Chino Hills), Hope Moreno (La Habra), Kiki Pepi (San Diego), Kaitlin Ryder (Chatsworth) and Cortney Smith (Moreno Valley) all hail from The Golden State.
UTEP (0-9) will open the weekend against Siena (0-5) at 9 a.m. PT and Utah State (5-2) at 11:30 a.m. PT onFeb. 24. The Miners will then play host school UC Riverside (1-6) on Saturday (2 p.m. PT) and will end the road trip against Utah State on Sunday (11:30 a.m. PT).
It’s also the first time since the 2014 season that the softball squad will play in the state of California. The Miners competed at the Libby Matson Tournament hosted by Pacific that season.
BREAKING DOWN THE RIVERSIDE CLASSIC
UTEP will be the designated ‘home’ team against Siena and Utah State on the first day. UTEP will be the batting in the top half of innings against the host team UC Riverside. While on Sunday, UTEP will be the designated ‘away’ team against Utah State. All contests will be played at Amy S. Harrison Softball Field.
UTEP went 0-4 at the DeMarini Desert Classic hosted by UNLV Feb. 17-19. The Miners opened the weekend, falling to UNLV, 8-4, and Nevada, 6-1, on Friday. Saturday’s contests against Utah State was cancelled, while the contest against Boise State was moved to Sunday afternoon. UTEP slipped, 4-1, versus San Jose State on Sunday morning and followed with a 16-7 loss to Boise State.
UTEP hit .261 (30-115) during the weekend, which was a big improvement from its .189 (21-111) average at the Kajikawa Classic. The Miners also turned two more double plays, giving the defense six on the season. Courtney Clayton and Cortney Smith swung a sweet stick this past weekend. Clayton hit .467 (7-15) with an RBI and four runs scored, while Smith connected on UTEP’s first two home runs of 2017. The pitchers continued to struggle as the staff gave up 19 walks in 26.0 innings.
ALL-TIME SERIES VS. SIENA
UTEP is 2-1 all-time against Siena as the two programs met in 2013. The Miners and Saints were supposed to play four games in two days (March 26-27) but a bomb threat on March 26 cancelled the first game of a two-game set. UTEP ended up defeated Siena 3-1 later in the evening.
The two programs split the next two contests on March 27 with UTEP claiming an 11-1 (5) victory but came up short in the final game, 5-4.
The Saints started their season this past weekend in Madeira Beach, Fla. at the EMU Madeira Beach Invitational. Unfortunately, Siena returned home with five losses against Massachusetts, 8-5, Robert Morris, 8-0, Eastern Michigan, 10-9, UAB 6-5 and Central Michigan, 7-0.
As a team, the Saints hit .237, while sophomore, Jazmin Ortiz recorded two home runs and two RBI, and senior Chelsey Drew led the squad with three home runs and five RBI. The pitchers of Siena recorded a 6.12 ERA throughout the weekend, while junior, Lauren Butts recorded nine strikeouts.
ALL-TIME SERIES VS. UTAH STATE
Utah State holds a slight 2-0 edge on UTEP. The two programs first met on Feb. 5, 2005 as the Aggies defeated the Miners 12-5 at the Alexis Resort Kickoff Classic in Las Vegas, Nev. Most recently, the two schools met again in Vegas with Utah State claiming a 6-1 victory.
Danielle Pearson tallied the team’s only hit, while Kaitlin Ryder scored the lone run on a Utah State error. April Brown threw a complete-game, walking only one and striking out seven on 89 pitches.
SCOUTING UTAH STATE
The Aggies joined the Miners this weekend at the DeMarini Desert Classic in Las Vegas, Nev. and are 5-2 after the weekend contests. The rainy weather only allowed Utah State to play two games, splitting the weekend. The Aggies first lost to Memphis 8-0 in five innings and then beat Southern Utah, 3-1. Paxton Provost leads the team with a .368 average (7-19), while Amanda Sheets and Sydney Hart each have a team-best four RBI. Victoria Saucedo has hit the squad’s only home run. Mia Mather is a team-best 6-for-6 on stolen bases.
The pitching staff has combined for a 1.64 ERA in 46.0 innings while walking 19 and fanning 26. Kellie White (2-1) has thrown 19.0 frames with only four earned runs (1.47 ERA), while April Brown (2-0) has a 1.64 ERA leads the staff in innings pitched (21.1) and Ks (13). Katie Schroeder (1-0) has a 0.00 ERA in 5.0 innings thrown.
ALL-TIME SERIES VS. UC RIVERSIDE
UC Riverside holds a 3-2 edge on UTEP. The two schools last met in Tucson, Ariz. last season at the Wildcat Invitational as the Highlanders squeaked by the Miners, 2-1, on March 1. Kaitlin Ryder drove home Kiki Pepi that tied the score 1-1 in the top fourth, but UC Riverside took the go-ahead 2-1 lead in the bottom fifth on a Karina Romero RBI single.
The Miners only tallied a pair of hits as the Highlander’s starting pitcher Chelsea Ponce pitched a gem, giving up only two hits and striking out six.
SCOUTING UC RIVERSIDE
The Highlanders are 1-6 after playing in the Campbell/Cartier Classic this past weekend in San Diego, Calif. UC Riverside lost to San Diego State, 3-0 and then to no. 8 Washington, 14-1. The last two games of the weekend were cancelled.
Although the team is only hitting a total of .166 two weeks into the season, Madeline Richard (.385) has been getting the job done at the plate with five hits and scoring three runs. The Highlander pitchers have recorded a total ERA of 8.55 while Haley Marschall has started four games and has the lowest ERA of the staff at 5.32.