UTEP softball to host UTSA in final home series
El Paso, TX — The UTEP softball team will play its final home series of the 2014 campaign against UTSA on April 26 and 27 at the Helen of Troy Softball Complex.
The Saturday doubleheader starts at 2 p.m. MT, while Senior Day is set for a noon start. Seniors Erika Arcuri, Kayla Black, Colleen Hohman, Alanna Leasau and Miraya Montiel will be honored approximately 30 minutes prior to the noon start on Sunday. Admission is free to all fans wearing orange this weekend.
“It’s a big weekend for us going into this series,” head coach Tobin Echo-Hawk said. “(UTEP and UTSA) are both tied for 10th place and it could be a series that is really crucial as far as getting that eighth and final spot in the conference tournament. If we are able to take two of three games, I think we’ll put ourselves in a pretty good spot where we still have a chance going into the final weekend.”
The Miners (15-30, 7-11 Conference USA) and Roadrunners (20-27, 7-11) are vying for a spot at the 2014 C-USA Tournament in Boca Raton, Fla. (May 8-10). UTEP will close the 2014 regular season at East Carolina (23-17, 10-8) on May 3-4.
Standing in the way of UTEP are Charlotte (18-25, 8-12) and Southern Miss (22-25, 10-11). Southern Miss is on it conference bye weekend, but will play at No. 5 Arizona State, while Charlotte will face Marshall (22-28, 9-9) in a three-game series in North Carolina.
UTEP lost two of three against Southern Miss on March 8 and 9 in El Paso.
Thank You, Seniors!
Arcuri, Black, Hohman, Leasau and Montiel will player their finals games in the Sun City this weekend.
Arcuri is a two-year letter winner after transferring to UTEP from FIU. The naive of Tampa, Fla. earned the 2013 Conference USA Newcomer of the Year award (FIU was still in the Sun Belt Conference at the time). Arcuri’s .362-career batting average is ranked No. 3 all time in program history.
“She’s that player that finds a way to get it done,” Echo-Hawk said. “She’s a gamer and she goes as hard as she can. It’s a joy to watch her play because she makes things look so easy.”
Black is a four-year letter winner with the Miners. The native of Clint, Texas has accounted for 69-career RBI and has made many spectacular diving catches in the outfield.
“Kayla is that hard worker and does what she needs to do,” Echo-Hawk said. “She’s a steady person in the outfield and makes huge plays when we need them. She’s also had some crucial at bats this season to help us.”
Hohman is a three-year letter winner coming from the University of Kansas. The Naperville, Ill. native has won 16-career games – fifth-best in program history, and hit two two-run home runs in the second inning of a 13-2 win over Middle Tennessee on April 12, 2014. Hohman is the only Miner to hit two dingers in one inning.
“She’s the vocal leader that we need,” Echo-Hawk said. “She’s always talking and is extremely passionate at everything that she does. She’s done a tremendous job this year.”
Leasau is a two-year letter winner after transferring from Tallahassee Community College. The native of Livermore, Calif. hit two grand slams and tallied eight RBI in one game last season – both program bests.
“Alanna is that steady person both offensively and defensively,” Echo-Hawk said. “She’s done a great job and doesn’t make a lot of mistakes defensively. That’s nice to have as a first baseman and she’s embraced that role.”
Montiel is a two-year letter winner coming from Yavapai Community College. The Tucson, Ariz. native has recorded 169 assists playing the infield – seventh best all time. She also hit her first-career home run, a grand slam at La Tech on March 16, 2014.
“We’ve moved her from shortstop to second base and that’s a big move,” Echo-Hawk said. “She has embraced it and has done a tremendous job at second. Her offensive production is a huge improvement from last year.”
Series vs. UTSA
UTEP is 4-6 all time against UTSA dating back to the 2005 season. The Miners have dropped their last three meetings against the Roadrunners.
The Roadrunners defeated the Miners, 11-2, in their last meeting on March 4, 2012 at Helen of Troy Softball Complex. UTSA scored eight runs in the first inning as Megan Low went 2-for-4 with two RBI and a run scored, and Molly Fichtner went 4-for-4 with a couple RBI. Black knocked in the two runs for the Miners on a 2-for-2 performance.
The Roadrunners are currently on a four-game losing streak, while losing six of their last seven games. UTSA was swept by No. 18 Tulsa in its previous conference series.
Low leads a dangerous offensive squad that has hit a conference-best 61 home runs. The Roadrunners 1.33 home runs per game are ranked sixth best in the nation. Low’s 21 dingers lead the nation, while her 42 RBI and .371 batting average are a team best.
Jori Fox is hitting .299 with 10 home runs and 38 RBI, while Siera Sproul has hit eight long balls and has tallied 15 RBI.
In the circle, Nicole Merrill (7-9) leads the staff with a 3.09 ERA, while Kacy Freeze (10-11) leads with 119 Ks. UTSA’s three starters have combined for a 3.76 ERA, 247 strikeouts and 141 walks in 318.2 innings.