After opening Conference USA play this past weekend, the UTEP softball team will host a pair of contests against rival New Mexico of the Mountain West Conference. The doubleheader is set forMarch 15 starting at 1 p.m. at the Helen of Troy Softball Complex.
The Miners (9-16) are coming off a 0-3 start in league play, as they suffered losses of 10-1 (five innings) and 5-1 on March 12, and an 8-3 loss on Sunday. The Lobos (11-8) are coming off a loss to hands of defending Western Athletic Conference champions NM State, an 11-3 final on March 8 in Las Cruces.
UTEP is hosting New Mexico for the first time since the 2012 campaign. The Miners won two of three from the Lobos on May 1 and 2.
A Few Highlights from This Past Weekend
Marshall opened C-USA action undefeated after sweeping UTEP. The Miners, however, had a few highlights as Linda Garcia connected on her third home run, while tallying her ninth RBI. Garcia has matched her home run total from last season, while being an RBI away from equaling her 2015 total of 10.
Courtney Clayton tallied a trio of doubles in the series, as she’s one away from matching her 10 from 2015. Kaitlin Ryder recorded her third long ball, a three-run shot that brought the Miners within a run during Sunday’scontest. Ryder too has matched her freshman total, while she’s three RBI away from her 16 in 2015.
The Miners turned three double plays on Sunday, tying a program record for a single game. It was the fourth time the feat has been accomplished, as Feb. 13, 2005 versus North Texas was the last time it happened. The defense has turned 12 DPs thus far, after tallying 21 in 2015, which tied a school record with the 2007 squad.
UTEP’s 12 double plays ranks no. 2 in C-USA behind LA Tech’s 13. The Miners are hitting .299 as a team, ranking seventh in C-USA. Marshall leads the league with a .335 batting average. UTEP’s 23 long balls rank second behind LA Tech’s 24 jacks.
As far as individuals, Courtney Clayton ranks seventh in slugging (.646), Clayton ranks tied third in runs scored (21), Clayton ranks tied sixth in hits (30), ranks second in doubles (nine), ranks tied 10th in RBI (20) and ranks tied 10th in home runs (four).
Kaitlin Ryder ranks sixth in on-base percentage (.477), while ranking tied third in walks (15). Kiki Pepi ranks no. 8 in RBI (22) and Hope Moreno ranks tied sixth in hits by pitch (four).
All-Time Series vs. New Mexico
New Mexico is 12-8 all-time versus UTEP, dating back to Feb. 29, 2004. The Miners are 3-6 against the Lobos since the 2012 campaign. UTEP last defeated New Mexico 7-6 in Albuquerque on March 11, 2014, while its last win at the Helen of Troy Field came on May 2, 2012 – an 11-8 victory.
During that win in 2014, with the score tied 5-5, Ashley Eldridge gave the Miners the go-ahead lead on a groundout to first, as Samantha Alvillar raced home. Alanna Leasau added a run with a single to left that plated Erika Arcuri.
Last Series (UTEP 0, New Mexico 2)
On March 3, 2015 in Albuquerque, New Mexico swept UTEP in a two-game series. The Lobos jumped on the Miners early in game one, scoring four runs in the second on their way to a 7-5 win.
In game two, Kawehiokalani Netane scored on a throwing error for an early 1-0 lead in the first. The Lobos went on the score seven runs in innings 2-6, while UTEP tacked on a trio of runs in the top seventh on a Kiki Pepi sac-fly and a Courtney Clayton two-run double.
Scouting New Mexico
The Lobos are 11-8 after losing 11-3 in five innings at NM State. New Mexico had won its previous four contests, including six of its last eight games. New Mexico swept Northern Colorado March 5-6, winning 7-3, 8-3 and 10-1 in Albuquerque.
The Lobos are hitting .306 led by Mariah Rimmer’s .406 average. Jasmine Casados, hitting .356, leads the team with 19 RBI, while Michala Erickson (.351 avg.) paces the squad with three home runs.
The team ERA is 4.60, as Lauren Soles (2-2) leads the staff with a 2.93 ERA in 28.2 innings. Colette Robert (6-4, 4.41 ERA) leads the staff wins, Ks (31), and innings pitched (54.0). Robert has only walked nine batters.