The UTEP softball team will continue its 2017 campaign with a trip to Conference USA West Division foe UAB April 29-30. The Miners (11-31, 5-13 C-USA) are coming off their bye week, while the Blazers (16-29, 7-9 C-USA) are coming off a loss at Middle Tennessee on April 22.
The Miners and Blazers will play a doubleheader starting at 1 p.m. CT/Noon MT on Saturday, while the series finale will be played on Sunday (1 p.m. CT) at Mary Bowers Field.
The weekend series in Birmingham will be the first of six final regular season games leading up to the C-USA Tournament May 10-13 in Hattiesburg, Miss. UTEP will close out the regular season against the defending C-USA Champions Florida Atlantic May 6-7.
MINERS FOLLOWING A BYE WEEK
UTEP is 4-2 the last two seasons following a bye week. In the 2015, following three losses at no. 25 UABMarch 14-15, the Miners responded by winning two of three against Southern Miss in El Paso (March 28-29). Last season, UTEP won two of three at Middle Tennessee (April 16-17). UTEP did not have a bye week in 2014 as it was scheduled to play at Colorado State in a three-game set April 5-6.
UTEP is currently on the outside looking in the postseason outlook. Marshall (15-3 C-USA East) and LA Tech (13-5 West) have clinched spots while there are six spots remaining for the C-USA Tournament. The top three programs in each division will clinch a spot and the next two schools with the best record will seal the final two spots.
FIU (11-6 East), Florida Atlantic (10-8 East), North Texas (11-10 West) and UAB (7-9 West) are the next best four teams regarding league record, while WKU (10-10) and UTSA (9-12 West) would clinch spots if regular season ended today. Charlotte (7-10 East), Southern Miss (7-13 West), Middle Tennessee (5-11 East) and UTEP round out the list.
UTEP lost three contests at LA Tech April 14-15. The Miners fell in a pair of close contests on Friday, 4-2 and 4-0. The Lady Techsters took game three 8-0 in five. Taylor Sargent kept a hot bat as she hit .375 (3-8) with a double and a two-run triple. Kaitlin Ryder hit .333 with a run scored, while Lindsey Sokoloski also hit .333 and did not strikeout during the weekend.
ALL-TIME SERIES VS. UAB
The Blazers are 21-9 all-time against the Miners since May 6, 2006. UTEP has lost its last nine contests against UAB (April 20, 2013-April 24, 2016). UTEP last defeated UAB on April 22, 2012 in El Paso by the score of 7-0. The Miners were swept last season by the Blazers in El Paso. Cortney Smith went 4-for-10 with a pair of home runs and four RBI, while Courtney Clayton hit .545 (6-11) with a long ball and a pair of RBI.
UAB pulled away late in game one with the score knotted at 1-1 through four innings. The Blazers scored five in the fifth, three in the sixth and another run in the seventh to claim victory.
The Miners and Blazers slugged one out in game two as both squads each recorded 12 hits. The Miners took an early 3-0 lead after a Danielle Pearson RBI double and a Smith two-run single in the first frame. After UAB took a 4-3 lead, the Miners would tie the score in the second on a Kaitlin Ryder solo home run. After the Blazers took a 7-5 lead after three frames, Kiki Pepi scored on an error in the fourth that brought the Miners within a run.
But the Blazers used two runs in the seventh to put the game away. The Miners would go on to lose a heartbreaker in the series finale as UAB scored three runs in the seventh to claim a 4-2 victory. Following a run by the Blazers for a 1-0 edge in the fourth, the Miners would score runs in the fifth (Smith solo home run) and the sixth (Hope Moreno RBI single) for a 2-1 advantage.
UTEP is also 2-13 all-time in Birmingham, as the Miners took two of three from the Blazers during the 2009 season.
The Blazers are coming off a pair of losses, the first to no. 9/10 Washington, 6-0, on April 20 and another to at Middle Tennessee, 3-1, on April 22. UAB and Middle Tennessee were rained out on April 23 and rescheduled the two-game set for May 3 in Murfreesboro.
UAB is 16-29 overall and 7-9 in Conference USA. The Blazers are 8-9 on their home field and 3-2 in their last five home games – won two of three against North Texas (April 14-15), defeated Samford 4-3  (April 18) and fell to Washington.
UAB ranks last in the conference with its .219 batting average, while its 132 runs are the least. UAB ranks eighth in the ERA (3.55) and walked a league-high 188 batters but have struck out 223 (ranked fourth in C-USA). UAB also ranks last in slugging (.314), on-base percentage (.298), hits (258) and RBI (114). The Blazers rank last in fielding percentage (.949) while their errors (73) are the most in the league. UAB has turned 22 plays, the third most in C-USA. Analyse Petree leads the team with a .278 batting average, while Madison Millsaps leads the squad in RBI (17).
Joanna Fallen and Millsaps each lead the team with five home runs apiece; Petree leads in doubles (seven) and Destini England leads the squad in runs (20) and hits (38). Claire Blount (7-10) leads the staff in wins, ERA (2.84), walks (88), innings (138.0) and Ks (114). Blount’s 114 strikeouts rank tied fourth in C-USA. Cara Goodwin (4-11) has a 3.85 ERA in 91.0 frames of work with 37 BBs and 70 Ks.
UTEP turned three more double plays at LA Tech during Easter Weekend. The Miners lead Conference USA with 27 double plays turned, while they rank second nationally in double plays per game (.64) behind Auburn (.77). Auburn as turned a national-best 36 double plays, while Campbell has turned 29. UT Arlington has been part of 28 double plays, and UTEP and UC Riverside have turned 27 each.
Taylor Sargent andCourtney Clayton have each been part of 12 DPs to rank tied fourth with Florida Atlantic’s Lauren Whitt.Cortney Smith (11) ranks tied seventh with LA Tech’s Katie Smith and Kiki Pepi (10) is tied ninth with three other players.
SECOND MOST DOULBE PLAYS
UTEP’s 27 double plays turned in 2017 is already the second most turned in program history. Last season’s squad turned a program-best 30 double plays. In fact, since Tobin Echo-Hawk arrived to UTEP, the Miners have turned 96 doubles plays in 201 games (.48 per game).
The 2007 squad turned 21, while 19 double plays were turned during the 2005 season. The previous four seasons (2010-13), 46 double plays were turned.
UTEP is hitting .299 to rank fourth in Conference USA and no. 58 nationally, while it would rank the third best average in program history if the season ended today. UTEP hit .307 in 2016 and .303 in 2007. UTEP’s slugging (.415) ranks fifth, while its hits (342) rank sixth. Marshall leads C-USA in batting (.321), while UTSA leads with 396 hits.
UTEP RANKINGS IN C-USA ONLY GAMES
The Miners rank second in batting average (.308) and hits (152) in Conference USA games only behind UTSA (.310 average & 181 hits). UTEP ranks fifth in runs scored (76), on-base percentage (.363), RBI (73) and fourth in total bases (200). UTEP ranks third in slugging (.405). LA Tech leads the way in runs scored (96) and RBI (89).
EXTRA BASE HITS
UTEP tallied a triple and double at LA Tech. The Miners rank fourth in Conference USA with 10 triples and seventh with 49 doubles. The Miners rank third in C-USA and no. 49 nationally with .24 triples per game.
Binghamton leads the nation with .49 triples per game and Florida State leads the nation with 20 triples (.42 per game). Marshall and LA Tech are tied for the lead league with 12 triples and Southern Miss (11) ranks third.
5 IN THE TOP 25
UTEP has five players ranked in the top 25 in Conference USA in batting. Taylor Sargent (.351) ranks 13th,Kaitlin Ryder (.350) ranks 14th, Kiki Pepi (.339) ranks 15th, Cortney Smith (.336) ranks 16th, andCourtney Clayton (.315) ranks no. 25.
UTEP has the most players in the top 25, while Marshall, Charlotte, North Texas and FIU each have three. Middle Tennessee and UTSA each have two. Florida Atlantic, WKU, LA Tech and Southern Miss each have one.
RACKING UP HITS
The Miners have connected on 342 hits, ranking sixth in Conference USA. UTEP’s 17 hits at UTSA (April 1) are tied for the most during the Tobin Echo-Hawk era, as 17 hits were recorded against Incarnate Word on Feb. 11, 2016. The 17 knocks are tied for eighth on the all-time list. Last season, the Miners set a single-season record with 451 knocks.
MORE ON THE HIT PARADE
UTEP has recorded 10-plus hit games 79 times during the Tobin Echo-Hawk era. The previous four seasons, the Miners tallied 10-plus hits in 50 contests. Since Echo-Hawk took the helm at UTEP, the Miners are hitting .298 (1,611-5,415), while the previous four years saw a .268 average (1,462-5,462). The Miners have connected on 15-plus hits in 14 different contests from 2014-17 and eight different times from 2010-13. The most hits recorded the last eight seasons were 24 at Brown on March 3, 2012 – tied most in program history.
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