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UTEP Softball to Compete at Wildcat Invitational March 4-6

The UTEP softball team, after winning a pair of contests against Mount St. Mary’s on March 2, will travel to Tucson, Ariz. to participate at the Wildcat Invitational hosted by Arizona on March 4-6.

The Miners (8-9) will take on Saint Francis (1 p.m. PT) and BYU (8 p.m.) on Friday, No. 15 Arizona (6 p.m.) and Mount St. Mary’s (8 p.m.) on Saturday, and will conclude the weekend against No. 10 James Madison on Sunday.

Good Start

UTEP is currently 8-9 after a 2-15 start in 2015 and a 6-11 start in 2014. The Miners are off to their best start since beginning the 2011 campaign with a 9-8 mark (finished 16-37-1 that year). UTEP started 13-4 in 2010 and tallying the most wins (31) in program history.

All-Time Series vs. Saint Francis

The two programs will meet for the first time on March 4 at the Wildcat Invitational.

Scouting Saint Francis

 The Red Flash (7-10) competed in the Arizona State Diamond Devil Invitational last weekend (Feb. 27-28) with a 10-1 victory over Mount St. Mary’s, while falling to No. 19 Arizona State, and No. 21 Minnesota. The Red Flash recently lost a pair of contests to Grand Canyon on March 3, falling 4-0 and 10-7. Saint Francis is batting a .276 hitting average as sophomore Madison Cabell leads the team with a .412 batting average. Sophomore Jordan Seneca registers a .377 batting average, while punching out a team-high six homeruns and 26 RBI. The Red Flash tally a team ERA of 4.39 as Blaire Lauthers (3-2) leads with a 3.41 ERA in 24.2 innings of work.

All-Time Series vs. BYU

The Cougars lead the all-time series 2-0. The Miners were blanked by BYU, 9-0 (5), on Feb. 14, 2015 at the Wilson/DeMarini Desert Classic.

Scouting BYU

 The Cougars are 9-6 after competing in the Mary Nutter Classic last week (Feb. 25-27). BYU was victorious over Bethune-Cookman, 3-0, and Cal State Fullerton, 7-6, while falling to New Mexico State, 1-2(8), No. 10 UCLA, 4-9, and No. 12 Missouri, 6-16.

Lauren Bell leads the Cougars with a .429 batting average, while freshman Libby Sugg is hitting a .353 average, has punched out eight homeruns, and has a team-high 22 RBI. Overall, BYU is hitting a .289 batting average. In the circle, McKenna Bull (6-4) has a 3.12 ERA in 75.0 innings of work, and the Cougars collectively have a 4.13 ERA.

All-Time Series vs. Arizona

The Wildcats lead the all-time series 10-1. The Miners fell 9-1 (5) at last season’s Wildcat Invitational on Feb. 27. Tahla Wade scored the team’s only run, while UTEP tallied six hits. The Miners’ only win in series history was a 9-6 victory over then No. 7 Arizona on March 18, 2008 in El Paso.

Scouting Arizona

 The No. 15 ranked Wildcats (11-5) finished the Easton Bama Bash 3-2, with victories over Marshall and No. 14 Tennessee, while only falling to No. 4 Alabama. Arizona defeated the Thundering Herd, 2-0, and went 1-0 against Tennessee.

Eva Watson leads the team with a .552 batting average, while Mo Mercado registers a .472 batting average and 17 RBI.  Overall, the Wildcats are hitting a .345 average. The Arizona pitching staff proves to be strong with Danielle O’Toole (7-2) tallying a 1.92 ERA in 51.0 innings, and Nancy Bowling (1-0) follows with a 2.14 ERA in 16.1 innings. As a team, the Wildcats have a 2.77 ERA.

All-Time Series vs. Mount St. Mary’s

The Miners lead the all-time series 2-0 after their March 2 sweep at the Helen of Troy Softball Complex. The UTEP softball team pounded out 29 hits, four long balls and scored 22 runs.

Scouting Mount St. Mary’s

The Mountaineers are winless (0-9) in 2016 after falling to NM State in a pair of games on March 1, and losing two to UTEP on March 2.

The team has scored a combined 18 runs, while allowing 92 runs. Jessica Greenwald leads the squad with a .407 batting average, while Lindsay Heinze leads the team with five RBI. Rachel Heinze has the team’s only home run, while she’s produced four RBI. Megan Baker is hitting .400. The Mount has an ERA of 11.84 and is hitting .279.

All-Time Series vs. James Madison

The March 6 contest at the Wildcat Invitational will mark the first ever meeting between the two programs.

Scouting James Madison

 The No. 10 ranked Dukes (12-1) remains strong as they finished 3-0 last weekend in the Macado’s Invitational (Feb.26-28). JMU opened the invitational with a 12-3 win in five innings against Toledo, followed by wins versus Saint Joseph’s, 2-1, and Robert Morris, 8-0, to sweep the tournament.

The Dukes are hitting a .294 batting average as senior Erica Field leads the team with a .436 batting average. Sophomore Morgan Tolle follows with a .390 batting average, three home runs, and a team-best 15 RBI. In the circle, Megan Good (7-1) leads with a 0.15 ERA in 46.0 innings, and Jailyn Ford (5-0) registers a 0.81 ERA in 34.2 innings of work. Overall the Dukes’ ERA is a 0.90.

Fifield Named Co-Pitcher of the Week

Junior pitcher Kaitlin Fifield was named Conference USA Co-Pitcher of the Week after tossing a no-hitter against Texas A&M-Corpus Christi on Feb. 27 the league office announced on Feb. 29. It’s the first such honor for Fifield, who shared the distinction with FIU pitcher Megan Kugelmann.

The honor also marks the first pitcher of the week for a UTEP hurler since Stacie Townsend was named C-USA Pitcher of the Week on March 22, 2010.

More On Fifield’s No-No

The no-no was the sixth in program history and the last one since Stacie Townsend no-hit Belmont on March 18, 2010 with 18 Ks in 7.0 frames and walking a pair. Fifield also recorded her second career shutout, while earning the no-hitter on 86 pitches.

Fifield forced two lineouts, one to third and the other to second, while 10 groundouts were tallied. The closest the Islanders came to getting a hit came during the sixth inning, when leadoff hitter Cosette Hernandez threw down a bunt. But catcher Linda Garcia made a throw to second baseman Courtney Clayton, who was extended with one foot on the bag.

Other No-Hitters in UTEP History

Renee Dipuccio recorded the first no-hitter in program history on Feb. 15, 2004, during a 9-1 victory over Sul Ross. It was the first ever contest in school history.

Dipuccio went 5.0 innings with one run (unearned) and eight Ks. Megan Barber registered the second no-no on Feb. 22, 2005 in the Miners’ debut at the Helen of Troy Softball Complex. Barber went 6.0 innings with no walks and 12 Ks during an 8-0 victory against Howard Payne.

On March 10, 2006, Veronica Flournoy pitched the third no-hit game. Flournoy won 5-0 over Centenary, going 5.0 frames with a walk and a trio of strikeouts. Nichole Tunget hurled the sixth no-hitter on Feb. 10, 2008 against Prairie View A&M – an 11-0 win. Tunget went 5.0 innings, walked one and fanned nine.

Grohmann, Growing Up

Taylor Grohmann entered the 2016 season with two-career victories, while not picking up a win in 2015. This season, the junior hurler leads the staff with a 4-1 record, as she’s defeated Incarnate Word (Feb. 11), Grand Canyon (Feb. 21), Texas A&M-Corpus Christi (Feb. 26) and most recently Mount St. Mary’s (March 2). Grohmann has walked nine in 21.2 innings.

Kawehi’s Grand Night

After starting slow in 2016, senior Kawehiokalani Netane blasted a grand slam against Mount St. Mary’s during a game two 10-2 win on March 2. The home run and RBI were her first of the new campaign. The Orlando, Fla., native is hitting .256 with nine runs scored and two doubles. She’s recorded 13 putouts and four assists at center field.

RBI Producing, a Major Kiki

Kiki Pepi is currently ranked second in Conference USA with 20 RBI. Pepi is hitting .370 (20-for-54) with four long balls, three doubles, a triple and leads the defense with 36 assists. Pepi’s .685 slugging percentage is ranked eighth in C-USA. Pepi’s four home runs have matched her 2015 total, while currently ranking tied third in C-USA.

Pepi had a monster game against Incarnate Word on Feb. 11, hitting a career-high two home runs and tallying a career-best five RBI. Pepi’s two jacks and five RBI were all produced during the second inning of a 13-3 victory in five innings. Pepi tied her career high in hits (three) against San Jose State, where she also produced two RBI and scored a run.

Productive Leadoff Hitter

Courtney Clayton has been the leadoff hitter for the majority of 2016. Clayton ranks first in Conference USA in runs scored (18) and ranks tied second in RBI (19). She is hitting .418 (23-for-55) with four home runs, a team-leading five doubles and a triple. Clayton’s batting average is ranked 10th and slugging (.764) is ranked fourth in C-USA.

Clayton leads tallied 33 assists and 29 putouts. Clayton set her career high in hits (four) against Incarnate Word on Feb. 11, while tying her career high in RBI (four) in the same contest. Clayton then registered a career-best three runs and two walks against Grand Canyon on Feb. 21. Clayton tied her RBI total again, producing four against Mount St. Mary’s during a game one victory on March 2.

First Ever Long Ball

Freshman starting shortstop Cortney Smith connected on her first home run in a UTEP uniform. It was a three-run towering shot over right field in the second inning during UTEP’s 10-2 (eight innings) run-rule win against Texas A&M-Corpus Christi on Feb. 26. Smith went 2-for-3 with three RBI and scored a pair of runs.

On the season, Smith is hitting .353 (12-for-34) with five RBI and has scored nine runs. Defensively, she’s tallied 13 putouts and 22 assists. Smith recorded her first collegiate double, two as a matter of fact, during UTEP’s 10-2 victory over Mount St. Mary’s on March 2.

Rough Ryder

Sophomore Kaitlin Ryder is hitting .391 (18-for-46). Ryder has also produced 11 runs, ranking second on the squad, with two doubles, a triple, a home run and eight RBI. Ryder’s 11 walks lead the Miners, while ranking tied fourth in Conference USA. Recently, Ryder tied her career high with three hits and three RBI against Grand Canyon on Feb. 21.

Pearson’s Power Surge

Senior Danielle Pearson connected on her first collegiate home run last season at NM State on March 18. Pearson then hit two more home runs during a sweep against Mount St. Mary’s on March 2. The Orlando, Fla., native connected a pair of two-run shots, one in each contest. Pearson is hitting .308 with a pair of runs scored, two home runs and five RBI in 2016.

Notable Performances

Morgan Rasmason made a pair of starts in right on March 2 against Mount St. Mary’s. The senior went 2-for-3 (first two-hit game since freshman season), while scoring a career-high two runs in the 12-3 win. Rasmason also tallied an assist, throwing out a base runner at home plate from right field.

Linda Garcia registered a career-best three hits, including a career-high two doubles during UTEP’s 10-2 win over Mount St. Mary’s. Garcia also knocked in the game-winning run during the bottom fifth, producing two RBI in the contest. Taylor Sargent tied her career high with three hits (3-for-3) during UTEP’s 12-3 win over the Mountaineers.

She also tied her career high for runs in a single game, scoring two runs in each contest. Yvette Ortega tallied her second career hit, while scoring her first collegiate run in the Miners’ 12-3 win over Mount St. Mary’s.

UTEP’s Offensive Prowess

The last two seasons since third-year head coach Tobin Echo-Hawk arrived to the Sun City, the team has hit above .290. The 2016 season has been on pace, as the Miners are ranked third in Conference USA with their .325 batting average.

UTEP hit .293 in 2015, ranking second best in program history. UTEP’s 17 home runs are no. 1 in C-USA. In 2013, UTEP recorded 18 home runs. Since Echo-Hawk arrived, the Miners combined for 69 long balls in 2014 (30) and 2015 (39).

Reducing Miscues

The Miners have committed 12 errors in 17 games so far in 2016. Last year at this time, the defense committed 22 in its first 17 games. 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. The Miners currently have the third least amount of errors in 2016. North Texas leads with eight, while Florida Atlantic has committed nine.

Getting Hit On

Hope Moreno has been hit by a pitch four times to lead the team, while ranking fourth in Conference USA in that category. Moreno led the team last season with eight hit by pitches. The school record for being hit by a pitch is 11 times (done by two players), while the second most is nine times (done by two players) and the third being eight times (also done by two players).

Back-Two-Back Jacks in Vegas

Hope Moreno and Taylor Sargent connected on back-to-back home runs in the fourth innings during UTEP’s big 12-5 victory over Grand Canyon on Feb. 21 at the DeMarini Desert Classic in Las Vegas, Nev. It was the first back-to-back long balls since Colleen Hohman and Alanna Leasau did it against Boise State on Feb. 15, 2014 at the Easton Desert Classic in Las Vegas. For Moreno and Sargent, it was their first home runs of 2016. In 2015, the two each connected on a pair of four-baggers.

A Rare Road Win

UTEP defeated UNLV, 6-0, on Feb. 19 at Eller Media Stadium. After a 0-19 road record in 2015, the Miners won their first road game since defeating East Carolina on May 4, 2014. The road hasn’t been pleasant for UTEP, as it won 10 road games in 2013 and 2014 combined, while going 0-15 in 2012. The victory also marked the first win on the UNLV home field, since defeating Northwestern State, 12-4, on Feb. 14, 2008 at the Louisville Slugger Desert Classic.

Pearson’s Goose Egg

Danielle Pearson pitched a gem against UNLV, shutting down the Runnin’ Rebels to only three hits. But the big story – the senior pitcher threw her first career shutout. The Orlando, Fla., native threw a complete game, only walked two while fanning five batters.

The hits allowed wasn’t a career low, but it tied her career low for allowing hits in a complete game start (7.0 innings). Pearson allowed three hits against Southern Miss on March 8, 2014 during a 5-1 victory. Pearson is currently 2-2 with a team-leading 3.89 ERA and has 13 Ks to 14 walks in 27.0 innings of work.

Her other win came against Incarnate Word on Feb. 13 in Las Cruces, N.M., as Pearson tied her career high with six strikeouts in a complete-game triumph. Pearson is ranked no. 3 on the all-time win’s list in program history and is four wins away from tying Kelly Curran for no. 2 on the list.

Author: UTEP Athletics

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