EL PASO, Texas (KTSM) — After having their 2020 season cut short due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the UTEP softball team is set for Opening Day 2021. The Miners are going to find out real quick where they stand when they host No. 4 Oklahoma on Thursday and again on Friday at the Helen of Troy Softball Complex.
UTEP will open the season with a pair of double-headers in their Annual Miner Invitational on Thursday and Friday against the Sooners and Abilene Christian. The Miners begin the tournament against Oklahoma at 10 a.m. and will follow that up with a matchup against the Wildcats at 12:30 p.m. UTEP’s games on Friday will begin at 12:30 p.m. (vs. ACU) and 3 p.m. (vs. OU).
“With everything that happened last year, I’m just excited to get out onto the field regardless of what year it was,” said UTEP head softball coach T.J. Hubbard. “These kids, fans and everyone associated with our program have waited a long to see us get back out and play the game we love.”
Thursday’s game(s) will be the first time the Miners have opened the season at home since 2016 and the first time they have opened at home against a Top 5 opponent.
“I think it’s great, not only for our student-athletes and our individual department, but I think it’s great for our community as well,” said Hubbard. “It’s an opportunity to bring in a team of their [Oklahoma’s] historical tradition — four national championships and six consecutive trips to the world series.”
This marks the third all-time matchup between UTEP and Oklahoma and the first meeting since 2005. The Sooners won both meetings.
“It’s awesome,” said UTEP junior infielder Kasey Flores. “I grew up watching Oklahoma play on television and I think it’s really cool to play with them on the field and everything.”
UTEP’s abbreviated 2020 season ended with the Miners at 5-17 in Hubbard’s first year with the program. The Miners are slotted to finish sixth in the West Division in February’s Conference USA poll.