The UTEP softball team will play at home for the first time since February 25 as it hosts Conference USA West Division foe UAB March 17-18.
The Miners (10-16, 0-3 C-USA) and Blazers (8-18-1, 1-1-1 C-USA) will open the three-game series on Saturday in a doubleheader starting at 2 p.m. The series finale will be played on Sunday at Noon at the Helen of Troy Softball Complex.
UTEP is coming off a sweep at Florida Atlantic March 12-13. The Miners played the Owls tough in game one, falling short 2-1 in the series opener on Monday afternoon in Boca Raton. The Owls won game two, 6-0, and game three 8-0 . UAB split its first two games against Marshall on March 10, winning game one, 2-1, falling 9-6 in game two and tying game three 1-1 on Sunday.
Overall, UTEP played four contests at FAU Softball Stadium as it opened with Rutgers on March 11. The Miners’ first two scheduled games against Stony Brook and LIU Brooklyn on March 10 were cancelled due to heavy rain fall. Kacey Duffield led the squad with a .364 batting average, while pacing the team with four hits, including a pair of doubles.
Courtney Clayton connected on career home runs 21 and 22 during the weekend-early week slate, as she hit a solo shot against Rutgers and another against FAU on Monday. Julia Wright gave the Miners a solid outing on Monday as she tossed 7.2 innings, while striking out six Owls. Overall, Wright hurled 11.2 frames with eight K’s. Ariel Blair came up with a 3-for-4 performance, tying her career high in hits against Rutgers.
Last season, UAB took UTEP down in three games, while the Blazers’ last trip to the Sun City was in 2016.
ALL-TIME SERIES VS. UAB
The Miners are 9-24 versus the Blazers after being swept last season in Birmingham, Ala. The two programs last met on April 30, 2017 as the Miners fell 5-0 in five innings (rain). UTEP played UAB tough in the first two games, falling short 3-1 and 3-0 on April 29. The Blazers have won 12 consecutive games against the Miners. The last UTEP victory came on April 22, 2012, a 7-0 win at Helen of Troy Softball Complex.
UAB picked up their first tie in program history after finishing 1-1 against Marshall. The Blazers are 8-18-1 overall and 1-1-1 in Conference USA play. The Blazers are hitting .248, ranking ninth in the league. Leading the team in hitting is sophomore Destini England with a .363 average, who was left standing in the batter’s box before the game was called to a tie. Leading the team in home runs is Analyse Petree with four, which also ranks fourth in conference. The team ERA is 3.73, which is also ranked ninth in the league. Freshman and past C-USA pitcher of the week Emily Kachel (6-7) is the top pitcher for the Blazers with a 2.65 ERA, 87.1 innings pitched and 60 strikeouts. Sophomore Claire Blount has been solid with 77.1 innings played and 54 strikeouts.
UTEP leads Conference USA with 12 double plays turned, while also pacing the league at .46 per game and ranking in the top 35 nationally in DP’s turned per game. The Miners turned its 12th double at Florida Atlantic on March 13 during the second inning. The Miners started the season by turning a pair against Missouri in the season opener and another two DP’s during their victory against Saint Mary’s College the next day. Overall, UTEP has turned 72 during its last 128 games (.56/game).
UTEP’s .278 team batting average ranks fourth in Conference USA behind Marshall (.282), WKU (.305) and Middle Tennessee (.323). UTEP’s 96 runs ranks sixth behind FAU (101). UTEP’s 186 hits ranks sixth behind UAB (187). UTEP’s six triples are tied for second with UAB and ranks behind WKU (10). UTEP’s 17 home runs rank second behind North Texas (29), while its 90 RBI ranks fifth behind Southern Miss (94). UTEP’s .412 slugging percentage ranks fourth behind MT (.428).
CC’S GOOD EYE
Courtney Clayton has struck out zero times in 78 at bats, ranking first in Conference USA. Nationally, Clayton is one of 12 players not to go down swinging or looking. Brittney Roby of UNI leads overall with 81 at bats, while Patricia Griffin of LIU Brooklyn has 79 at bats. Sacramento State’s Zamari Hinton’s 68 at bats is ranked behind Clayton.
MOVING UP THE HOME RUN’S LIST
Courtney Clayton connected on a pair of home runs while in Boca Raton this past weekend. She now has 22 in her career, ranking tied for sixth with Amber Bennett on the program’s all-time top-10 list. Clayton blasted a solo shot against Rutgers on March 11 and another against Florida Atlantic on March 12. Kewehiokalani Netane ranks fifth with 23 and Simone Holland ranks fourth with 25.
TWO AWAY FROM 100
Courtney Clayton registered two more RBI this past weekend in Boca Raton and has 98 now in her career. Clayton ranks eighth and is trying to become the eighth Miner in UTEP history to hit 100 or more RBI during a career. Kiki Pepi ranks (103 RBI) ranks seventh and Ashley Ellis (105) ranks sixth.
COURT’S IN SESSION
Courtney Clayton looks to have returned to her 2016 form as she leads the Miners and ranks 11th in Conference USA with a .372 average. Her four home runs lead the squad and is ranked tied for fourth with four other players in C-USA. Clayton leads the team with 19 runs scored and is ranked tied for fifth with three other players in C-USA. Clayton’s 29 hits rank eighth in C-USA as two other players also have 29 hits. Clayton ranks tied for fifth with six other players with two triples.
WRIGHT’S SOLID OUTING
Julia Wright tossed a career-high 7.2 innings and tallied six K’s against Florida Atlantic in game one to open Conference USA action. Wright had actually not allowed a hit through 5.2 innings versus the Owls. Wright leads the Miners in ERA (4.47), innings pitched (56.1) and K’s (46). Wright also ranks 10th with her 46 K’s.
KACEY AT THE BAT
Kacey Duffield hit .364 in four games started in Boca Raton this past weekend. Duffield also recorded a pair of doubles. Duffield has started the last eight games at first base and, overall, is hitting .269 on the season with a home run and five RBI. Duffield is also tied for second on the team with four doubles on the season.
Defensively, she’s recorded 69 putouts and four assists. Duffield tied her career high with a pair of hits against Rutgers on March 10. Duffield has also registered multiple hits against UNLV (Feb. 17) and Portland State (Feb. 25). Duffield hit her first Division I home run at Hawai’i on March 4.
BLAIR’S 3-HIT GAME
Ariel Blair tied her career high in hits with a 3-for-4 outing against Rutgers on March 10. Blair first registered a trio of knocks during a single game against Grand Canyon in 2016 and matched that number against Virginia in 2017. On the season, Blair is hitting .333 (19-57) with a double and a RBI. Blair leads the Miners with six stolen bases on six attempts.