The UTEP softball team will travel to Las Vegas, Nev. to compete at the DeMarini Desert Classic on Feb. 19-21. The Miners will play in Fabulous Las Vegas for the third consecutive year and will take on Nevada (3:45 p.m. PT), host school UNLV (8:15 p.m.) on Feb. 19, Utah State (11:15 a.m.) and San Jose State (6 p.m.) on Saturday, and will conclude the weekend against Grand Canyon (1:30 p.m.) on Sunday.
Last season, the Miners picked up a pair of wins, defeating Portland State, 8-5, and Indiana, 4-1, on the first day of the weekend classic. UTEP is 2-8 in Las Vegas during the last two years.
Breaking Down the DeMarini Desert Classic
UTEP will play on two fields, Eller Media Stadium on the campus at UNLV and at Stephanie Lynn Craig Park (SLC). The Miners’ will play Nevada, UNLV and San Jose State at Eller Media Stadium, while taking on Utah State and Grand Canyon at SLC Park. UTEP will be the designated home team against Nevada and San Jose State.
UTEP (2-3) opened the 2016 campaign with a 4-1 loss to Incarnate Word, but bounced back to trounce UIW, 13-3 in five frames. The Miners put up 11 runs on 10 hits during an epic second inning against the Cardinals. The Orange and Blue connected on five home runs against UIW, the second most in a single game in program history. At the NM State Invitational, the Orange and Blue scored three runs in the top seventh to defeat UIW, while losing a pair of contests to rival NM State, 4-1, on Feb. 13 and, 12-4 (five innings) on Valentine’s Day.
All-Time Series vs. Nevada
Nevada leads the all-time series 9-2. The Wolf Pack defeated the Miners, 6-3, last season at the Wilson/DeMarini Desert Classic on Feb. 14. Kiki Pepi went 2-for-4 with a two-run home run, while Hope Moreno connected on her first collegiate long ball. UTEP’s last victory over Nevada came on March 27, 2008, an 8-1 final. The Miners’ other victory came on April 29, 2004 when both programs were in the Western Athletic Conference.
The Wolf Pack went 3-2 at the Kajikawa Classic on Feb. 12-14, defeating Bradley (7-6), Indiana (5-3) and East Carolina (2-1) along the way. Nevada is hitting .254 as team with three jacks and 17 runs scored. Aaliyah Gibson is hitting .615 with a home run and a pair of RBI. Amanda Weis leads the team with four RBI. In the circle, the pitching staff has a 3.71 ERA in 34.0 innings. Chase Redington (1-0) has a 2.10 ERA in 6.2 innings, while Brooke Bolinger (1-1) has hurled 18.2 frames with nine strikeouts.
All-Time Series vs. UNLV
UNLV leads the all-time series 3-0. The Runnin’ Rebels edged the Miners, 2-0, in a pitching duel on Feb. 15, 2015 at Eller Media Stadium. Kaitlin Fifield tossed 6.0 solid innings, allowing both runs and fanning six. UTEP could only muster up four hits, to UNLV’s seven. The two other meetings happened in 2004 and 2005.
The Runnin’ Rebels began their 2016 campaign with a 4-2 record after competing in the Sportco Kickoff Classic. The Rebels defeated Lamar, 3-2, Syracuse, 6-1, Utah Valley, 11-1 (5), and South Dakota, 7-3, while losing to Texas Tech, 7-3, and no. 20 Washington, 9-0 (6). Sophomore Janine Petmecky leads the Rebels with a .706 batting average while Emily Haslinger leads with seven RBI, but only hit .188. Haslinger and Petmecky both hit one home run. Morgan Ettinger notched a 3-0 record, as she leads UNLV with a 2.05 ERA in 13.2 innings.
All-Time Series vs. Utah State
Utah State won its only meeting against UTEP, a 12-5 triumph on Feb. 5, 2005 at the Alexis Resort Kick-off Classic in Las Vegas, Nev. The Miners had a 5-2 lead before the Aggies scored three runs in the fourth frame and seven runs on three hits and three errors in the sixth inning to seal the victory.
Scouting Utah State
The Aggies forged a 2-4 record at the Kajikawa Classic (Feb. 11-14). Utah State lost its firs four contests, but rebounded to win its next two, defeating Bradley (6-2) and Maryland (5-0). Sarah Chow leads the team in batting (.471) and hits (eight), while Victoria Saucedo leads in RBI (six) and Alleyah Armendariz leads with a pair of long balls. April Brown leads the pitching staff with 13.2 innings and ERA (4.61), while Noelle Johnson has fanned 15 batters in 11.2 frames.
All-Time Series vs. San Jose State
San Jose State leads the all-time series 8-4. The Spartans defeated the Miners, 10-8, on March 1, 2014 at the Libby Matson Tournament in Stockton, Calif. Alanna Leasau went 3-for-3 with a pair of RBI and a runs scored, while Kayla Black was 1-for-3 with three RBI. Prior that contest in 2014, UTEP had won three consecutive contests against San Jose State.
Scouting San Jose State
The Spartans went 1-5 at the Kajikawa Classic (Feb. 11-13) to open the 2016 season. San Jose State’s lone victory came against Virgina, a 10-1 (six innings) run-rule final. The Spartans opened the weekend with a pair of 8-0 losses to BYU and Arizona State. The team is hitting .223, while scoring 13 runs. Brittany Abacherli had three hits, three RBI and a two-run homer during San Jose State’s two contests on Feb. 13.
All-Time Series vs. Grand Canyon
The Feb. 21 contest will mark the first meeting between the two programs.
Scouting Grand Canyon
The Antelopes enter the 2016 season with a 6-0 record after punching out six straight victories during a three-day stretch as they took the GCU Kickoff Tournament by storm. The Antelopes defeated UMBC, 18-0, Idaho State, 12-4, and Loyola Marymount, 8-0.
On the second day of the tournament, the Antelopes held the lead to win 15-12 against Idaho State off of a two-run walk off home run hit by freshman Nikki Gonzalez. GCU has a team batting percentage of .483 with Bianca Boling leading with a .600 average. Shea Smith aids the Antelopes with 13 RBI and a .525 batting average. In the circle, Taylor Nowlin leads GCU with a 2.55 ERA in 11.0 innings.
UTEP’s Overall Team Batting
UTEP is hitting .315 to start the new campaign, ranking third in Conference USA. The Miners also lead the league with their six home runs. The team hit five long balls during the opening day second contest against Incarnate Word, which is the second-most hit in a single game in school history. UTEP ranks second in total bases (67), fourth in RBI (22) and is tied for the league lead (UTSA) with a pair of triples.
Court is in Session
Sophomore Courtney Clayton, who was named to the Conference USA All-Freshman team, has picked up where she left off in 2015. The Cornelius, Ore., native hit .389 (7-for-18) with a pair of jacks, seven RBI (tied second in C-USA), a double, six runs scored and her first career triple to commence the new campaign.
Clayton currently leads the Miners in total bases (16), is tied for the team lead in RBI and runs scored, while ranking second in slugging percentage (.889). During UTEP’s 13-3 run rule victory over Incarnate Word, Clayton tied her career high in RBI (four), while establishing a career best in hits on a 4-for-4 night. In that same game, Clayton tallied her four RBI on a two-run home run and a two-run single during an 11-run second inning.
Sophomore Kaitlin Ryder shut opposing pitchers down during opening weekend. The Chatsworth, Calif., native currently leads Conference USA in hitting with an outstanding .615 average (8-for-13), while ranking third in slugging percentage (1.154) and second in on-base percentage (.688). Ryder established career highs in hits (3-for-3) and runs scored (three) during UTEP’s 13-3 win over Incarnate Word, including a first inning two-run dinger. Ryder has three RBI, a triple (matching last season’s total) and a team-leading two doubles.
Pearson Moving Up
Senior pitcher Danielle Pearson made her first start on Feb. 13, defeating Incarnate Word 5-3. The Orlando, Fla., native hurled a complete game, tied her career best with six Ks, while picking up her first win of 2016 and 19th-career victory. Pearson currently ranks third on the all-time win’s list in program history, while ranked tied third with 94 appearances. Pearson will finish her UTEP career ranked second all-time innings pitched. So far, she’s pitched 397 frames. Stacie Townsend is the all-time leader with 722.1 innings pitched.
Kiki Pepped Up
Junior Kiki Pepi is hitting .294 with a pair of home runs, seven RBI (tied second in Conference USA) and a .706 slugging percentage. The San Diego, Calif., native had a career night against Incarnate Word on opening day, hitting a career-high two home runs and tallying five RBI. In fact, her two jacks and five RBI all came during an 11-run second inning against the Cardinals. Pepi connected on a two-run double during the fifth inning against rival NM State on Feb. 14.
Fifield in the Circle
Junior Kaitlin Fifield leads the pitching staff in innings pitched (11.0) and Ks (nine). Though the El Paso native doesn’t have a win early in the season, Fifield pitched a solid outing during UTEP’s 4-1 loss to Incarnate Word. Fifield threw a complete game, while fanning seven batters (two shy of tying career high). Of the four runs allowed, one was earned, as three errors paved the way for three unearned runs to cross the dish. Fifield is 0-2 with a 3.18 ERA