FILE: Andres Acosta El Paso Herald-Post
The UTEP softball team (7-19, 2-4) will take on NM State (10-11) in the FirstLight Federal Credit Union Battle of I-10 at Helen of Troy Softball Complex on Tuesday (5 p.m. & 7:30 p.m. MT).
The Miners fell to NM State earlier this season, 12-3, in six innings. Freshman Kasey Flores had two hits and two RBIs, and this game was a part of her outstanding opening weekend that garnered her Conference USA Player of the Week honors.
UTEP leads Conference USA with 28 home run this season. The Miners are averaging 1.1 home runs per game and is on pace to smack 55 dingers this season.
The most home runs hit during the Tobin Echo-Hawk era was 51 in 2016 (third most all-time in program history). The school record is 63 done in 2009, while the Miners connected on 62 in 2012 and 57 long balls in 2006. Nationally, UTEP ranks tied for 33rd in home runs per game.
Home Sweet Home
The Miners finally made their home debut after spending 20 games on the road to begin the season. They earned a series victory over Charlotte, 2-1, to open up conference play. Last year, UTEP went 15-8 at home and holds a 54-42 record at home since head coach Tobin Echo-Hawk has taken the lead of the program.
The Miners already boast two player of the week honorees by Conference USA this season. The first being freshman Kasey Flores who posted an outstanding opening weekend with a .643 batting average, three home runs, nine hits and 10 RBI.
Most recently, senior Kacey Duffield was given the honor after the first weekend of conference play. Duffield hit .643 with nine hits, eight RBI, two home runs and a .706 on-base percentage.
You can count on Kacey Duffield to get on base like you can count on the sun to rise over El Paso. The first baseman has reached base in 24 of UTEP’s 26 games this season. Her stellar batting average of .418 (ranks second in Conference USA) is a good reason why as she has tallied 28 hits on the season.
However, her eye at the plate is the biggest reason why she has been a staple on the base paths. The senior has drawn 17 walks, which ranks second in C-USA. She also boasts the second highest on-base percentage (.536) in the league. Duffield will continue to be seen on bases this season if she can maintain the discipline at the plate.
Cortney Smith and Kacey Duffield each have hit seven home runs. The pair of ranked tied for third in Conference USA in that department. Middle Tennessee’s Lexi Cushing and Marshall’s Mya Stevenson are tied for the league lead with eight home runs each.
The Sun City Bombers
UTEP’s Kacey Duffield, Kasey Flores and Cortney Smith have combined for 19 home runs, 54 RBIs, 73 hits and a .349 batting average for the Orange and Blue. The trio of bats in the Miner lineup have been a problem for opposing pitching staffs.
In the first game of the season versus Creighton (Feb. 8), the three sluggers made their presence known, with Smith and Flores smacking two homers each and Duffield adding another.
Smith and Flores are the first pair of teammates to record two home runs in the same game since 2006 when three Miners did it against NM State in 2006 (Amber Bennett, Amber Camancho and Ashley Perez). Duffield ranks third in slugging percentage (.746) for Conference USA. The long ball is a major weapon for the Miners as the season progresses.