UTEP splits four-game series versus Southern Miss

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Photo courtesy of UTEP Athletics

UTEP sophomore third baseman Kasey Flores looks on as she makes contact with a pitch versus Southern Miss April 2.

The UTEP Miners softball team (7-13, 2-2) played its first Conference-USA (C-USA) series with back-to-back doubleheaders against the Southern Miss Golden Eagles (20-14, 2-2 ) over the weekend in which the Miners were able to split the series.

On Friday, April 2, the Miners and Southern Miss opened conference play splitting a doubleheader, winning game one 7-4 and not getting on track in a 10-1 loss to Southern Miss in game two.

In game one, the Miners trailed 4-0 after one inning but were able to narrow the gap to one run by the end of the third inning. In the bottom of the fourth inning, third baseman Kasey Flores came up to bat with the bases loaded and came through with a grand slam to give the Miners a 7-4 lead. For sophomore Flores, this was her fourth home run of the season. The 7-4 margin would be all the scoring for the rest of the game as the Miners went on to win by that score.

Freshman pitcher Mackenzie Collins got the win for four innings of work while allowing six hits and four runs, while sophomore Zaylie Calderon pitched three innings of shutout ball for the save allowing no hits.

In game two, the Miners could only manage two baserunners in the first two innings, while Southern Miss, with a pair of doubles, set up baserunners and jumped out to a 5-0 lead. Miner starter Isabella Kelly was pulled from the game after registering no outs in the second inning with five runs surrendered.

At the bottom of the third inning, junior shortstop, Pate Cathey, was able to hit a single into the gap, followed by a steal of second base. With a runner in scoring position, sophomore center fielder Idalis Mendez broke through with a single to get the Miners’ first run of the second game, now trailing 5-1 after three innings.

Alyssa Davis led off the fourth inning with a home run for Southern Miss to extend the Miner deficit to 6-1. For the Miners, a promising inning with a double from first baseman Bryanna Molina ended with two runners stranded as the Miners failed to score a run.

In the top of the fifth, the Miners, after recording the first out, surrendered a two-run homer then a double before Davis hit her second home run for the day for Southern Miss giving them a 10-1 lead.

UTEP started the bottom of the fifth with a double from Morales but three straight putouts ended the game with the Miners trailing by nine runs for a 10-1 defeat by mercy rule.

On Saturday’s opening game, the Miners’ lack of offense carried over into the first three innings as the team had only one hit. Starting pitcher, Kelly struggled in the second inning, giving up three walks which resulted in two runs scoring for the Golden Eagles as the Miners trailed 2-0 early.

In the top of the fourth, the Miners gave up two straight singles that were followed by a three-run homer from Davis for her third of the weekend. A two-run homer by Bordon extended the Golden Eagle lead to 7-0 going into the bottom of the fourth inning.

A Cathey single led off the Miner fourth inning that was highlighted by back-to-back doubles by Santos and Karina Samoza that led to a three-run inning as the Miners trailed Southern Miss 7-3 after four.

That would be all the offense the Miners would be able to mount in the game as the Golden Eagles added two more runs to win 9-3.

In the final game of the series, Kasey Flores hit her second grand slam of the weekend in the bottom of the second inning to give the Miners a 6-2 lead. After three-inning, the Golden Eagles had narrowed the UTEP lead to 6-4.

Flores again came through in the bottom of the fourth with Cathey on base singling home her fifth run batted in of the day. After four innings, the Miners now led 7-4. At the bottom of the sixth, Cathey again got on base, followed by a walk to Flores that set up a run off a Molina double that made the score 8-4 for UTEP with one inning remaining.

Southern Miss was able to get two baserunners in the final inning but were held to one run as the Miners sealed an 8-5 victory for the weekend split with Southern Miss.

For the game, Flores went 3-3 with six runs batted in and had two grand slams and 10 runs batted in on the weekend. For the year, Flores has four home runs and 17 runs batted in. Mendez had six hits for the weekend and leads C-USA with a .519 batting average in 19 games. She also leads the conference in on-base percentage with .603.

The Miners will travel to Birmingham, Alabama, to compete in a four-game C-USA series at the University of Alabama at Birmingham April 9-11.

Michael Cuviello and Heriberto Perez may be reached at [email protected]