UTEP’s Ilena Santos | photo by Michael Reese
RIVERSIDE, Ca. – UTEP took advantage of the long ball on Friday as the Miners clinched the team’s first win of the 2020 season, a 6-2 victory over Idaho State at the Highlander Classic in Riverside, California
UTEP (1-6) dropped the first game of the day, 4-2, to Santa Clara (3-3), but the Miners rallied for the second contest to come out on top against the Idaho State Bengals (2-4) for head coach T.J. Hubbard’s first win in the Orange and Blue.
All of UTEP’s runs came off home runs, starting with Pamala Baber’s solo shot to left-center field in the first inning that gave the Miners a 1-0 lead. Idaho State knotted things at 1-1 in the bottom half of the first, but the UTEP bats went back to work in the fourth as the Miners plated five runs, all of which came off home runs.
Baber led off the inning with walk before Kasey Flores crushed a two-run shot to right-center to put the Miners up 3-1. Two more walks in the inning led to a three-run home run off Ilena Santos’ bat to help give UTEP some insurance heading into the final three frames.
Idaho State got one run back thanks to a pair of base hits in the bottom of the fourth, but that would be all for the Bengals, who were shut down by the Miners the rest of the way.
Freshman Zaylie Calderon (1-1) got the start in the circle for the Miners and pitched a complete game to pick up her first win of the season. Calderon, who also had a hit in the game from the leadoff spot, allowed two runs on nine hits, while striking out five and walking three.
The Miners were out-hit in the contest, 9-4, but made their hits count with three home runs in the game. UTEP entered the day ranked second in Conference USA in home runs on the season.
The Miners have now hit nine home runs in seven games.
GAME 1: SANTA CLARA 4 – UTEP 2
In the opening game of the weekend, UTEP dropped a close contest to Santa Clara (3-3), 4-2, on Friday morning in a game that saw the Miners get behind early.
Santa Clara drew first blood in the game with a walk and RBI double that gave the Broncos a 1-0 lead. The Broncos extended that lead in the third after a pair of infield singles led to a two-run double in the gap to put Santa Clara up by three.
UTEP started to claw its way back in the fourth when Pate Cathey led off the inning with a walk before stealing second base and later scoring on an RBI double by Idalis Mendez. Pamala Baber then drew a walk and both runs reached scoring position on a wild pitch.
Ariana Valles followed up with a sacrifice fly to centerfield, scoring Mendez and making it a 3-2 ball game until the sixth.
Santa Clara gave itself some breathing room two inning later when a Miner error led to the Broncos plating their fourth run of the game and helped clinch the game for SCU.
Freshman Isabella Kelly (0-3) went the distance for the Miners in the circle and was charged with the loss after allowing four runs – three earned – on seven hits, while she struck out two and walked one in six full innings.
At the plate, Mendez led the way for the Miners with a 2-for-2 effort from the dish, including a double, run scored and an RBI. The UTEP offense also saw production out of Calderon, Santos, Flores, Baber and Valles, all of who had a base hit in the game. Both teams closed out the game with seven hits apiece.
On Saturday, the Miners will face off in a rematch with the ISU Bengals at 10 a.m. MT. Sunday’s slate has UTEP battling Santa Clara (10 a.m. MT) for the second time before closing out the tournament versus UC Riverside at 12:30 p.m. MT.
Live stats for every game this weekend will be available through www.GoHighlanders.com.
For complete coverage of UTEP Softball, be sure to follow the Miners on social media at @utepsoftball (Instagram) and @UTEPSoftball (Twitter) or visit the official home of UTEP Athletics.