Zaylie Calderon | Photo courtesy UTEP Athletics
UTEP split Saturday’s doubleheader with Louisiana Tech to close out the first Conference USA series of the season at Helen of Troy Softball Complex in El Paso.
In the opening game of the day, UTEP (5-17, 1-2 C-USA) rallied behind a 5-inning shutout by freshman pitcher Zaylie Calderon to run-rule LA Tech (7-16, 2-1 C-USA) by a score of 8-0 to even the series.
On Saturday night, LA Tech rallied from an early 5-0 deficit to come back and defeat the Miners, 10-8, to claim the series victory on the road.
Despite the Lady Techsters taking two of three games from UTEP, the Miners outscored LA Tech, 24-19, over the course of the weekend. UTEP’s offense produced 35 hits through three games compared to 32 by the visiting Techsters.
GAME 1: UTEP 8, LA TECH 0 (5 INN.)
UTEP scored early and often in the first game on Saturday, plating two runs in the first, four in the second and two in the fourth to clinch an 8-0 run-rule victory over Louisiana Tech in five innings.
The first run of the day came across to score after Zaylie Calderon led off the bottom of the first with a single and came home on an RBI triple by Idalis Mendez. UTEP added another later in the inning on an RBI single by Ariana Valles to give the Miners a 2-0 lead after one inning.
The Miners added to its lead in the second with a four-run frame, highlighted by an RBI single by Kasey Flores and a three-run home run off the bat of Ilena Santos.
With a firm grasp on a 6-0 lead, the Miners continued to swing a hot bat. In the fourth, Mendez and Santos reached on a leadoff single and a walk before later scoring on a bases-clearing double in the gap by Valles to make it an 8-0 victory after Calderon pitched a scoreless fifth inning.
Calderon (2-3) started for the Miners and shutout the Lady Techsters while only allowing four hits in five innings of work to earn the victory in the circle. Calderon walked two and struck out one in the win.
Valles led UTEP at the dish with a perfect 3-for-3 day with a double and three RBIs, while Santos with 1-for-2 with a walk, home run and three RBIs. Mendez ended the game with a 2-for-3 effort at the plate with two runs scored and an RBI. UTEP also got production out of Calderon, Flores, Macey Brown and Pate Cathey, who each had one hit apiece in the win.
GAME 2: LA TECH 10, UTEP 8
The Miners jumped out to a 5-0 lead over LA Tech in the second game of the doubleheader, but the Lady Techsters combined to plate 10 runs in three of the final four frames to claim the comeback victory over UTEP.
UTEP got on the board first in the second inning thanks to RBIs by Macey Brown, Pate Cathey and Zaylie Calderon to give the Miners a 3-0 lead early on in the contest.
The lead was extended to five in the third when Ilena Santos left the yard with her second home run of the day (eighth of the season), this one a 2-run shot to left field to give UTEP a 5-0 advantage.
LA Tech responded quickly by tying the game with a five-run fourth inning, but the Miners answered with a three-run bottom half of the inning when Ariana Valles roped a bases-loaded double in the gap that cleared the bases and gave UTEP and 8-5 lead.
The Techsters got one run back in the fifth on a pair of walks and RBI single to cut UTEP’s lead to two. In the sixth, LA Tech completed the comeback when four runs came across to score on as many hits, including a three-run homer by Mary Terral that clinched the series for the Lady Techsters.
Both teams notched 13 hits apiece in the contest, while the Miners saw multi-hit games by Mendez, Flores, Santos, Pamala Baber, Macey Brown and Pate Cathey. Valles drove in three runs in the game in a 1-for-4 effort, while UTEP also saw RBIs by Santos (2), Calderon, Brown and Cathey.
Isabella Kelly started for the Miners in the circle and pitched 5.1 innings, while allowing five runs – all earned – on nine hits and striking out two. Zaylie Calderon (2-4) came on in relief and was charged with the loss after allowing five earned runs on four hits and walking three.
The Miners return to action next weekend when UTEP hosts UAB in a three-game set in Conference USA play. The series begins at 6 p.m. MT on Friday, March 13 at Helen of Troy Softball Complex in El Paso.
For complete coverage of UTEP Softball, be sure to follow the Miners on social media at @utepsoftball (Instagram) and @UTEPSoftball (Twitter) or visit the official home of UTEP Athletics.