The UTEP softball team will take a break from league action and will host Southeastern Conference program Ole Miss April 20 and 21 at the Helen of Troy Softball Complex.
Friday’s contest between the Miners (18-26) and Rebels (23-18) will start at 7 p.m., while Saturday’s game is set for a 4 p.m. start.
Friday night’s contest is a ‘Blackout’ as tickets will be $2 for fans who wear black.
The Miners are on a four-game winning streak and have won seven of their last 10 contests, after shutting out New Mexico on April 16. The Miners threw a no-hitter against New Mexico on Feb. 17 in Las Vegas, Nev., during an 8-0 win in five innings. UNM went hitless for the first 4.1 frames during Monday’s contest.
Prior to the victory against UNM, UTEP is coming Conference USA foe North Texas April 14-15.
UTEP first baseman Kacey Duffield was named the C-USA Player of the Week after her clutch performance during the Miners’ sweep against the Mean Green during the weekend. The junior hit .600 with a slugging percentage of 1.400. Duffield hit two home runs with four runs and racking up seven RBI.
Sunday’s contest ended in unique fashion as back-to-back putouts were recorded from left and right field, respectively, to complete the series sweep. In back-to-back UNT at bats, Kaitlin Ryder threw a runner at home from left field to record the second out, while Taylor Sargent threw out another runner at home from right field.
With the sweep against North Texas, the Miners jumped up to the no. 9 spot in the conference standings, as the top eight schools will advance to the C-USA Softball Championship May 9-12 in Charlotte, N.C.
C-USA series sweep was the first for UTEP since sweeping North Texas April 30-May 1, 2016.
UTEP, after a 1-8 start in C-USA action, is 6-3 since when with a pair of victories against UTSA (March 30), a triumph at WKU (April 7) and the recent series sweep against UNT. UTEP also improved to 12-4 at home overall, while its league home mark is 6-3. UTEP defeated UAB, 16-13, on March 18.
UTEP senior Courtney Clayton, who started her 200th consecutive game on April 16, ranks third in C-USA with a .406 batting average, while ranking in the top 10 in multiple offensive categories. Ryder ranks in the top 30 in C-USA with a .315 average. Ryder, who had struggled a bit at the plate, is hitting .476 during her last seven starts.
Junior hurlers Kira McKechnie and Julia Wright have combined for four wins during the four-game winning streak, while Wright earned her C-USA-leading fourth save against North Texas on Saturday.
Wright also tied the program’s single-season record with her fourth save. Wright added her first complete-game shutout in the mix on Monday against New Mexico.
ALL-TIME SERIES VS. OLE MISS
UTEP is 0-1 all-time as it fell 6-4 against Ole Miss on March 6, 2011 in Denton, Texas. Kayla Black put the Miners ahead 2-0 in the top first after she connected on a two-run home run.
With the score 4-2 in favor of Ole Miss, Kia Moore brought the Miners within a run during the fourth when she was hit by a pitch with bases loaded. Moore also scored a run in the seventh inning.
SCOUTING OLE MISS
The Rebels are coming off a 7-0 victory against ULM on April 18 in Oxford, Miss. Old Miss is 23-18 overall on the season and 5-13 in SEC play after losing the first two games against Mississippi State, but coming back to win the third game of the series, 7-6, after being down 6-3 on Sunday.
Ole Miss is 6-4 in its last 10 contests, that includes a victory against no. 14 LSU on April 8. Ole Miss also defeated no. 3 Oregon in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico, on Feb. 17. The Rebels are hitting .253 with 13 home runs. Kylan Becker leads the team with a .323 batting average and has tallied 10 RBI, while Elantra Cox paces the squad with 18 stolen bases, while hitting .315 with 10 RBI.
Autumn Gillespie leads the team with 25 RBI and seven doubles, and is tied with Amanda Roth (.147 avg.) for the team lead with three home runs. Ole Miss has a 2.72 ERA, while Kaitlin Lee (13-8) leads the team in wins, starts (19), innings pitched (128.1) and K’s (64). Ava Tillmann (3-3) has a 2.46 ERA in 48.1 innings and Anna Borgen (3-5) has fashioned a 2.46 ERA in 49.2 innings.
UTEP VS. SEC TEAMS
Ole Miss is only the second SEC program to play in the Sun City. Missouri played a pair of contests on March 21, 2016. UTEP dropped both contests, but Taylor Sargent hit .500 with two doubles and scored a run.
Sargent also registered two RBI and drew a walk in the series. UTEP (0-8) has yet to defeat a SEC program. UTEP also faced Missouri to open the 2018 campaign while taking on Arkansas in 2004, Tennessee in 2004 and 2009, Ole Miss in 2011 and Texas A&M in 2016.
C-USA POST SEASON UPDATE
The top three teams (by winning percentage) in each division, along with two Wild Card teams from either division will advance to the Conference USA Championship in Charlotte, N.C. May 9-12. As of April 19, UTEP is standing in ninth place in the C-USA overall standings.
LA Tech (13-5) leads the West Division, while Florida Atlantic (9-6) leads the East. UAB (10-4-1) ranks second in the West, while North Texas (8-7) sits at third in the West. Marshall (10-7-1) is in second and FIU (8-7) is in third in the East. Middle Tennessee (7-8) and WKU (7-8) occupy the Wild Card spots.
MT will host FAU this weekend, while Marshall will play at WKU. UTSA will host Southern Miss, and North Texas will host FIU. UAB will play at LA Tech.