UTEP softball travels to Las Vegas for classic
El Paso, TX — The UTEP softball team will travel to Las Vegas, Nev. to play in the 2014 Desert Easton Classis hosted by UNLV (Feb. 13-15). The Miners (1-4) will open with Hawai’i (3-2) as the home team on Thursday night (5:30 p.m. MT) at Eller Media Softball Stadium.
“We play some tough competition starting off the bat by playing Hawai’i and they’re traditionally a powerful offensive team,” first-year head coach Tobin Echo-Hawk said. “We need to make sure our pitchers do a good job. It’s a good test for our pitchers to go against an offense like that do see what they can do. It’s going to be a tough weekend, but if we get some wins it will help us grow and build our confidence into the following weekend.”
The Miners will face Utah (2:30 p.m.) and Nevada (4:45 p.m.) on Friday, and then will take on Boise State (10 a.m.) and Long Beach State(12:15 p.m.) on Saturday.
The Orange and Blue opened the 2014 campaign at the Hotel Encanto Tournament hosted by NM State (Feb. 7-9). Pitcher/infielder ColleenHohman highlighted the Miners lone victory in Las Cruces. The senior went 3-for-3 with two RBI and a run scored during a 6-2 win over St. Mary’s (Calif.). Also in that triumph, sophomore Danielle Pearson was effective in circle (7.0 innings and one strikeout) and at the plate (1-for-3, a run scored and one RBI) to notch her first ‘W’ of the new campaign.
The Miners suffered losses to no. 9 Nebraska, no. 15 Florida State and two heartbreak losses to St. Mary’s and NM State. UTEP had leads in both contests, only to fall short.
“People look at our record 1-4, and it doesn’t say a lot but I think we definitely got better,” Echo-Hawk said. “There were two games we were ahead going into the bottom half of the sixth inning and we just need to find a way to pull through and deal with that pressure and get the win.”
Freshman Kaitlin Fifield made the first start of her career against St. Mary’s on Feb. 7. The native of El Paso, Texas and former Chapin High School standout set a program record by striking out nine batters in afirst-career start. Fifield pitched 5.2 innings and walked four – three of which were in the first two innings.
Junior Ashley Eldridge hit her first home run in her career with the Miners. She blasted a three-run shot to center field against NM State on Sunday. Her three RBI in that contest is also a career best for the native of Las Vegas, Nev.
Junior McKenzey Finley recorded her first-career RBI. The former Coronado High School standout hit a single to left field against St.Mary’s on Saturday that plated senior Alanna Leasau.
The Series vs. Hawai’i (0-7)
UTEP is 0-7 all time versus Hawai’i. The Miners last faced the Rainbow Wahine in a doubleheader on April 16, 2005, losing, 8-0 and 9-1.
Hawai’i coming off a 3-2 performance in their opening week of play in the Oceanic Time Warner Cable Paradise Classic. The Rainbow Wahine defeated Hampton two times (2-0, Feb. 6 and 9-1, Feb. 8) and notched a win over Delaware (7-0, Feb. 7). Hawai’i suffered its two losses to UCLA (7-2, Feb. 7 and 4-1, Feb. 8).
Li’ili’I Leisha hit .308 with two long balls and totaled seven RBI during the weekend. Lindsey Willmon and Kristina Akiona hit a home run each. Freshman Heather Morales went 3-1 in her UH debut with a 1.22 ERA in 23.0 innings pitched.
The Series vs. Utah (1-2)
UTEP is 1-2 all time against Utah. The Miners beat the Utes, 3-2 (eight innings), in their last meeting on Feb. 25, 2007 at Helen of Troy Field. Kelly Curron pitched a complete game, striking out nine batters to earn the win. Stacie Townsend went 2-for-2 with an RBI and a run scored.
Utah opened the weekend with a 2-3 mark at the Kajikawa Classic in Tempe, Ariz. The Utes defeated Western Michigan (9-1, Feb. 7) and Portland State (10-3, Feb. 8), while falling to Boise State (6-1, Feb. 7), Northwestern (12-11, Feb. 8) and Colorado State (11-5, Feb. 9).
Kate Dickman hit .667 (12-for-18) with a home run and six RBI. Bridget Castro hit .438 with two jacks and nine RBI. Kayce Nieto and Mariah Ramirez each won a game to open the season.
The Series vs. Nevada (2-7)
UTEP is 2-7 all time against Nevada. The Miners tamed the Wolf Pack, 8-1, on May 27, 2008. Curran went 7.0 innings, striking out fourhitters, Camilla Carrera went 2-for-2 with two runs scored and an RBI, and Townsend knocked in two runs.
Nevada opened new campaign forging a 4-1 record at the Red Desert Classic in St. George, Utah. The Wolf Pack defeated BYU (10-9, Feb. 7), Southern Utah (4-2, Feb. 7), East Carolina (10-0, Feb. 9) and Utah Valley (9-0, Feb. 9), while suffering their only loss to Idaho State (11-5, Feb. 8).
Jasmine Jenkins tallied seven RBI and hit .389 to open the weekend and Megan Sweet hit .500 (7-for-14), five RBI and scored nine runs.Megan Dortch (0.00 ERA in 10 innings) and McKenna Isenberg each recorded 2-0 marks.
Series vs. Boise State
UTEP will face Boise State for the first time in program history.
Scouting Boise State
Boise State opened the weekend with a 1-4 mark at the Kajikawa Classic. After opening the season with a win over Utah (6-1, Feb. 7), the Broncos fell to Creighton (4-0, Feb. 7), North Carolina State (6-1, Feb. 8), Northwestern (13-2 , Feb. 8) and Oregon (9-0 , Feb. 9).
Jordan Kreiger hit .417 with a team-high five RBI during the weekend, while Tara Glover hit .467 (7-for-15).
Series vs. Long Beach State (1-0)
UTEP is 1-0 in its only meeting with Long Beach State. The Miners defeated the 49ers 2-1 on March 5, 2010. Stacie Townsend fanned 14 hitters in eight innings, while Kiarf Moore and Ashley Ellis each recorded an RBI.
Scouting Long Beach State
Long Beach State opened the 2014 season with a 3-2 record at the Mizuno Invitational at 49er Softball Complex. The 49ers defeated Santa Clara (8-0 , Feb. 6), George Washington 8-0 , Feb. 7), and Kent State(9-7, Feb. 9), and suffered losses to Kentucky (10-0 , Feb. 6) and Kent State (3-2, Feb. 8).