The UTEP softball team will continue Conference USA action as it hosts WKU April 8-9 at the Helen of Troy Softball Complex.
The Miners and Hilltoppers will compete for the first time ever in a doubleheader starting at 3 p.m. on Saturday. Sunday’s contest has been changed to a noon start.
Tickets are $3 for kids and $5 for adults, while ‘Bark in the Park’ is the weekend theme.
The Miners (10-26, 4-8 C-USA) are tied with Southern Miss (4-8) and UTSA (4-8) in the West Division, while the Hilltoppers (20-20, 4-8) stands in fifth place in the East Division. WKU is one game up on Middle Tennessee (3-9) and a game behind Charlotte (5-7).
UTEP will play all league games from here on out, which includes trips to LA Tech (April 14-15) and UAB (April 29-30). The Miners will end the regular season hosting Florida Atlantic (May 6-7).
The C-USA Tournament will be held in Hattiesburg (Southern Miss) May 10-13 as the top eight programs will advance to the postseason to play for an automatic bid to the 2017 NCAA Tournament.
UTEP took a three-day road to San Antonio April 1-3 to play at league foe UTSA, while playing its final nonconference contests at Incarnate Word. The Miners forged a 2-3 record during the weekend in East Texas, which included an epic game two, 7-6, victory in 10 innings at UTSA and a run-rule, 11-3 (5), win in game two against UIW.
Against the Roadrunners in game two, the Miners were down 3-0 after four innings before Cortney Smith connected on her seventh home run in the fifth frame – a solo shot over right center. UTEP took a 4-3 lead it the sixth as Smith tallied her second RBI of the contest on a single to left and Kiki Pepi connected on a two-run single to right.
The Roadrunners tied the score in the bottom half and the two teams traded runs in the innings eight and nine before Pepi came up with a solo blast down the left line for the go-ahead lead in the 10th. Sargent gave the Miners a 5-4 lead in the eighth, while Clayton homered in the ninth for a 6-5 advantage. Kaitlin Fifield threw all 10.0 frames (career high) to earn her first win of the season. UTEP fell in game one, 8-1, while UTSA rallied from 5-3 down to win 8-5 during Sunday’s series finale.
At Incarnate Word, UTEP rebounded from a 5-2 loss in game one to storm back with a 11-3 victory in 5.0 innings. Kaitlin Ryder blasted a career-high two dingers on a 3-for-4 performance with four RBI. Taylor Grohmann won her first game of 2017, throwing a complete game with no earned runs.
ALL-TIME SERIES VS. WKU
The two programs will meet for the first time ever on Saturday.
The Hilltoppers are currently at an even 20-20 record, while tallying a 4-8 conference record. WKU started off its conference run with sweeping Middle Tennessee but falling short to FAU, Marshall and UAB. WKU leads Conference USA with 32 home runs, but is hitting a .203 as a team to rank last in C-USA.
The Hilltoppers lead the conference in hit by pitch (60) and leads the way by striking out 237 times to leads the league. WKU has scored 144 runs, ranking tied ninth in C-USA. Jordan Mauch is shining through in the lineup with a .289 average, 18 RBI and a team-best 10 home runs.
Brittany Vaughn (.271) leads the team with 24 RBI, while ranking second with six dingers. Kara Brewer (.226) leads the team with nine stolen bases. Adriana Gray (.176) has hit five home runs with 18 RBI. On the defensive side of the game, the Hilltopper pitchers are recording a 3.15 ERA as a staff, ranking in the middle of the pack in conference. Kathryn Downing (11-7) has won the most games and has kept her ERA down to a staff-leading 2.09 and striking out 75 batters.
EXTRA INNING AFFAIRS
UTEP played in an epic 10-inning contest in game two at UTSA – in which the Miners won 7-6 over the Roadrunners. It was the longest game since playing 11 frames at Florida Atlantic on April 19, 2014. The April 1 contest at UTSA is tied for fourth longest in UTEP history. The most innings played was a 13-inning battle on May 7, 2009 against East Carolina at the Conference USA Tournament in El Paso with UTEP coming out on top 4-3.
The Miners have played 11 innings twice in program history, as the second was on April 7, 2013 at UCF. UTEP and Southern Miss went 10 frames on April 16, 2011, while another 10-inning contest was played on March 20, 2007 against no. 5 Arizona State – an 8-7 Miners’ victory. UTEP is 3-3 all-time in games that go 10-plus innings.
UTEP turned six more double plays in San Antonio this past weekend – five at UTSA and another at Incarnate Word. The Miners have turned 22 double plays to lead Conference USA and rank tied no. 4 nationally. UTEP also ranks no. 9 nationally in double plays turned per game (.61). Auburn leads the nation with 28 double plays turned and turned per game (.78).
Courtney Clayton ranks third in C-USA in fielding double plays with 11, while Cortney Smith (nine) and Taylor Sargent (nine) rank tied sixth.
UTEP ranks third in Conference USA with its .301 batting average is one of four league programs hitting .300 or better. Marshall (.322), UTSA (.312) and Charlotte (.300) are the other three teams. Nationally, UTEP ranks no. 55 as no. 1 Florida State leads the nation in hitting (.367).
UTEP RANKINGS IN C-USA ONLY GAMES
The Miners rank second in batting average (.316) and hits (109) in Conference USA games only, behind UTSA (.329 & 114 hits). UTEP ranks second in slugging (.447) and RBI (54), tied second in runs scored (54), third in doubles (14) and total bases (143), and fourth in on-base percentage (.369).
5 IN THE TOP 25
UTEP has five players ranked in the top 25 in Conference USA in batting. Kaitlin Ryder (.365) ranks 13th,Cortney Smith (.354) ranks 14th, Kiki Pepi (.349) and Courtney Clayton (.346) ranks no. 17 and 18, andTaylor Sargent (.316) ranks 24th. UTEP has the most players in the top 25, while UTSA has four players. Charlotte, FIU, Marshall and North Texas each have three, and Florida Atlantic and Middle Tennessee has two each.