The UTEP softball team, after picking up a pair of victories at the Texas A&M Invitational, will host Mount St. Mary’s in doubleheader on March 2 starting at 4 p.m. The series will be dubbed as a White Out, as fans that wear white will get in free.
The Miners went 2-3 in College Station (Feb. 26-28), as Kaitlin Fifield was the big story over the weekend. The junior hurled a complete-game no-hitter during a 2-0 win over Texas A&M-Corpus Christi on Feb. 27. Fifield walked one, coming up short of the perfect game, while tying her career in strikeouts.
On Friday, UTEP opened the weekend with a 10-2 (five innings) run-rule win against Texas A&M-C.C. Kiki Pepi and Cortney Smith each tallied three RBI, while Smith connected on her first collegiate home run. Courtney Clayton went 3-for-4 with an RBI and a pair of runs scored.
Series vs. Mount St. Mary’s
The two programs have never played, as the March 2 game one contest will mark the first meeting. The Miners and Mountaineers will also meet at the Wildcat Invitational on March 5 in Tucson, Ariz.
Scouting Mount St. Mary’s
The Mountaineers are 0-5 after falling to Saint Francis, 10-1, in its final game of the Diamond Devil Invitational hosted by Arizona State on Sunday. Megan Baker led the Mount offense, going 3-for-3 at the plate with a run scored.
Mount St. Mary’s is hitting a .226 average and have tallied a total of nine runs. Baker also leads the team with a .385 batting average, as Rachel Heinze leads with three RBI. Katie Olson has a team-leading ERA of 8.88 in 8.2 innings.
Fifield Named Co-Pitcher of the Week
Junior pitcher Kaitlin Fifield was named Conference USA Co-Pitcher of the Week the league office announced on Monday. It’s the first such honor for Fifield, who shared the distinction with FIU pitcher Megan Kugelmann.
The honor also marks the first pitcher of the week for a UTEP hurler since Stacie Townsend was named C-USA Pitcher of the Week on March 22, 2010.
More On Fifield’s No-No
The no-no was the sixth in program history and the last one since Stacie Townsend no-hit Belmont on March 18, 2010 with 18 Ks in 7.0 frames and walking a pair. Fifield also recorded her second career shutout, while earning the no-hitter on 86 pitches. Fifield forced two lineouts, one to third and the other to second, while 10 groundouts were tallied.
The closest the Islanders came to getting a hit came during the sixth inning, when leadoff hitter Cosette Hernandez threw down a bunt. But catcher Linda Garcia made a throw to second baseman Courtney Clayton, who was extended with one foot on the bag.
Other No-Hitters in UTEP History
Renee Dipuccio recorded the first no-hitter in program history on Feb. 15, 2004, during a 9-1 victory over Sul Ross. It was the first ever contest in school history. Dipuccio went 5.0 innings with one run (unearned) and eight Ks. Megan Barber registered the second no-no on Feb. 22, 2005 in the Miners’ debut at the Helen of Troy Softball Complex. Barber went 6.0 innings with no walks and 12 Ks during an 8-0 victory against Howard Payne.
On March 10, 2006, Veronica Flournoy pitched the third no-hit game. Flournoy won 5-0 over Centenary, going 5.0 frames with a walk and a trio of strikeouts. Nichole Tunget hurled the sixth no-hitter on Feb. 10, 2008 against Prairie View A&M – an 11-0 win. Tunget went 5.0 innings, walked one and fanned nine.
RBI Producing, a Major Kiki
Kiki Pepi is currently ranked tied second with Southern Miss’ Katie Cleary in Conference USA with 18 RBI. Pepi is hitting .340 (16-for-47) with four long balls, three doubles, a triple and leads the defense with 34 assists.
Pepi’s .702 slugging percentage is ranked fifth in C-USA. Pepi’s four home runs have matched her 2015 total, while currently ranking tied third in C-USA. Pepi had a monster game against Incarnate Word on Feb. 11, hitting a career-high two home runs and tallying a career-best five RBI. Pepi’s two jacks and five RBI were all produced during the second inning of a 13-3 victory in five innings.
Pepi tied her career high in hits (three) against San Jose State, where she also produced two RBI and scored a run.
Productive Leadoff Hitter
Courtney Clayton has been the leadoff hitter for the majority of 2016. Clayton is ranked tied second in runs scored (15) in Conference USA with FIU’s Jackie Schoff. She is hitting .380 (19-for-50) with a trio of home runs, a team-leading four doubles and a triple. Clayton leads tallied 31 assists and 25 putouts.
Clayton set her career high in hits (four) against Incarnate Word on Feb. 11, while tying her career high in RBI (four) in the same contest. Clayton then registered a career-best three runs and two walks against Grand Canyon on Feb. 21.
First Ever Long Ball
Freshman starting shortstop Cortney Smith connected on her first home run in a UTEP uniform. It was a three-run towering shot over right field in the second inning during UTEP’s 10-2 (eight innings) run-rule win against Texas A&M-Corpus Christi on Feb. 26.
Smith went 2-for-3 with three RBI and scored a pair of runs. On the season, Smith is hitting .333 (9-for-27) with four RBI and has scored six runs. Defensively, she’s tallied 11 putouts and 21 assists.
Sophomore Kaitlin Ryder is ranked no. 10 in Conference USA with a .415 batting average (17-for-41). Ryder has also produced 10 runs, ranking second on the squad, with two doubles, a triple, a home run and eight RBI. Ryder’s eight walks lead the Miners, while ranking tied eighth with three others.
Recently, Ryder tied her career high with three hits and three RBI against Grand Canyon on Feb. 21.
UTEP’s Offensive Surge
The last two seasons since third-year head coach Tobin Echo-Hawk arrived to the Sun City, the team has hit above .290. The 2016 season has been on pace, as the Miners are ranked sixth in Conference USA with their .296 batting average. UTEP hit .293 in 2015, ranking second best in program history.
UTEP’s 13 home runs are tied with FIU for no. 1 in C-USA. In 2013, UTEP recorded 18 home runs. Since Echo-Hawk arrived, the Miners combined for 69 long balls in 2014 (30) and 2015 (39).
The Miners have committed 11 errors in 15 games so far in 2016. Last year at this time, the defense committed 20 in its first 15 games. The fielding has improved, somewhat, during the last few seasons. In 2012, UTEP committed 86 errors, while in 2013, 81 miscues were scored. Since Tobin Echo-Hawk and Cristina Cobb-Adams – both infielders in college – arrived to the Sun City, the Miners committed 69 in 2014 and 73 last season.
The Miners currently have the third least amount of errors in 2016. North Texas leads with eight, while Florida Atlantic has committed nine.
Getting Hit On
Hope Moreno has been hit by a pitch four times to lead the team, while ranking fourth in Conference USA in that category. Moreno led the team last season with eight hit by pitches. The school record for being hit by a pitch is 11 times (done by two players), while the second most is nine times (done by two players) and the third being eight times (also done by two players).
Back-Two-Back Jacks in Vegas
Hope Moreno and Taylor Sargent connected on back-to-back home runs in the fourth innings during UTEP’s big 12-5 victory over Grand Canyon on Feb. 21 at the DeMarini Desert Classic in Las Vegas, Nev.
It was the first back-to-back long balls since Colleen Hohman and Alanna Leasau did it against Boise State on Feb. 15, 2014 at the Easton Desert Classic in Las Vegas. For Moreno and Sargent, it was their first home runs of 2016. In 2015, the two each connected on a pair of four-baggers.
A Rare Road Win
UTEP defeated UNLV, 6-0, on Feb. 19 at Eller Media Stadium. After a 0-19 road record in 2015, the Miners won their first road game since defeating East Carolina on May 4, 2014. The road hasn’t been pleasant for UTEP, as it won 10 road games in 2013 and 2014 combined, while going 0-15 in 2012.
The victory also marked the first win on the UNLV home field, since defeating Northwestern State, 12-4, on Feb. 14, 2008 at the Louisville Slugger Desert Classic.
Pearson’s Goose Egg
Danielle Pearson pitched a gem against UNLV, shutting down the Runnin’ Rebels to only three hits. But the big story – the senior pitcher threw her first career shutout. The Orlando, Fla., native threw a complete game, only walked two while fanning five batters. The hits allowed wasn’t a career low, but it tied her career low for allowing hits in a complete game start (7.0 innings).
Pearson allowed three hits against Southern Miss on March 8, 2014 during a 5-1 victory. Pearson is currently 2-2 with a team-leading 3.89 ERA and has 13 Ks to 14 walks in 27.0 innings of work. Her other win came against Incarnate Word on Feb. 13 in Las Cruces, N.M., as Pearson tied her career high with six strikeouts in a complete-game triumph.
Pearson is ranked no. 3 on the all-time win’s list in program history and is four wins away from tying Kelly Curran for no. 2 on the list.
Author: UTEP Athletics