The UTEP softball team, after playing a pair of contests at NM State on Tuesday, will continue Conference USA action as UTSA will make its way to the Sun City for an Easter Weekend series.
The March 30 doubleheader will start at 2 p.m., while Saturday’s series finale is slated for a noon start at the Helen of Troy Softball Complex.
The Miners (11-23, 1-8 C-USA) are coming off a pair of set-backs at NM State, while losing three contests at Southern Miss in their most recent league contests. The Roadrunners (14-13, 3-3 C-USA) are coming off a bye weekend.
UTSA’s most recent league series came against North Texas, dropping two of three in San Antonio March 17-18.
Courtney Clayton connected on her 24th career home run and three more RBI during Tuesday’s first game in Las Cruces. The senior now ranks fifth on the program’s all-time home run’s list and moved up to seventh on the school’s RBI list.
Clayton leads the Miners in multiple categories, including home runs (six), RBI (18), doubles (nine), triples (two), hitting (.408), slugging (.709), on-base percentage (.456), hits (42) and runs (23).
Ariana Valles continues to impress as the freshman tallied a pair of RBI on a pair of hits in game one at NM State. Valles ranks second on the team in hitting (.296) and doubles (seven), while ranking tied for second with Pamala Baber with 14 RBI. Valles leads the team with 65 assists.
Ariel Blair stole her team-leading and career-high eighth base during game two at NM State, while going 1-for-3. In game one, Blair scored two runs. The junior is hitting .309 with a double, a RBI and 12 runs scored. Blair has 15 stolen bases during her career, needing two to crack the program’s all-time steal’s list.
The Miners added their 15th double play turned against the Aggies. UTEP leads C-USA in double plays, while ranking tied for 28th at .44 double plays turned per game.
ALL-TIME SERIES VS. UTSA
UTEP is 7-12 all-time versus UTSA. The Miners and Roadrunners last met last season in San Antonio April 1-2. UTSA won the three-game series, winning games one, 8-1, and the rubber match, 8-5. The Miners won game two, 7-6, in a 10-inning affair. In a back-and-forth contest, UTSA took a 3-0 lead after 2.0 frames, while the Miners followed with a run in the fifth and three more in the sixth for a one-run lead (4-3).
The Roadrunners tied the game in the bottom sixth and after a scoreless seventh, forced extra innings. The two teams exchanged runs in the eighth (Taylor Sargent RBI double) and ninth innings (Courtney Clayton solo home run). The Miners finally took the go-ahead 7-6 lead off Kiki Pepi’s solo shot in the top tenth. Clayton finished 3-for-5 with two runs, while Sargent produced a 3-for-6 outing.
Ariel Blair produced a pair of hits with a run scored. The Miners tallied a total of 17 hits in the contest. Overall, the Miners hit .327 led by Sargent’s .615 average (8-13). Sargent and Pepi each recorded five RBI, while Pepi hit two home runs. Cortney Smith (.385 avg.) hit the other UTEP home run.
Kaitlin Ryder hit .364 and scored three runs during the weekend. In 2016, UTSA’s last visit to El Paso, UTEP won the series 2-1. The highlight of that weekend was Lindsey Sokoloski’s inside-the-park grand slam during the sixth inning that propelled the Miners to a 5-3 triumph during the first contest on April 2.
UTSA will continue its conference USA play ranked seventh in the league after having a week off from competition. The Roadrunners (14-13, 3-3 C-USA), last faced North Texas for their sixth conference game. North Texas took the series but UTSA claimed game two, 9-6. The team is hitting .240, ranking 12th in the league.
Leading the team hitting is junior Bailee Baldwin who places 17th in C-USA with a .354 average (29-82). Her 29 RBI and 12 home runs rank first in the league. Behind Baldwin is sophomore Celeste Loughman with .344 and a team-best 31 hits. The Roadrunners own a 3.07 ERA, ranking fifth in conference and edging opponents to a .284 batting average.
Senior Lizzy Fox leads the team with an individual 2.12 ERA (8-5) and 82.2 innings pitched placing sixth in C-USA play.