UTEP Softball to Play Crucial Series at Middle Tennessee April 28-29

UTEP Softball to Play Crucial Series at Middle Tennessee April 28-29


UTEP at MT_GameNotes 

EL PASO –
The UTEP softball team, winners of its last three Conference USA games, will play an important three-game series at Middle Tennessee April 28-29. The Miners (18-28, 7-11 C-USA West) and Blue Raiders (31-18, 8-9 C-USA East) will open the weekend series on Saturday in a doubleheader starting 2 p.m. CT/1 MT. Sunday's series finale is set for a noon CT/11 a.m. MT start.
 
UTEP and Middle Tennessee boast the league's top offenses as are both vying for a spot in the C-USA Softball Championship May 9-12. The top three teams from each division will advance to the postseason tournament in Charlotte, N.C., while the next two teams with the best record/winning percentage will round out the tournament. 
 
The Miners, after a series sweep against North Texas April 14-15 and winning six of their last nine league games, are sitting in ninth place with Southern Miss (7-11). WKU (9-9) and Middle Tennessee (8-9) are currently placed in the seven and eight spots, respectively.
 
MT ranks no. 1 in hitting (.301), while UTEP ranks no. 2 with a .286 batting average. The Miners and Blue Raiders' offenses, overall in C-USA, each rank in the top five in 11 of 21 total offensive categories. UTEP and MT are two of four league schools hitting over .280 on the season.
 
UTEP, during a bye weekend in league play, is coming off a pair of non-conference losses to SEC school Ole Miss April 20-21, but had won its last four contests, including a 7-0 win against New Mexico April 16.
 
The Miners are led by All-C-USA hopeful Courtney Clayton, who ranks second in C-USA behind LA Tech's Morgan Turkoly with a .410 batting average. Clayton's 59 hits rank fourth in C-USA, while it surpassed her 50 hits from last season. Clayton ranks second in total bases (101), ranks third in doubles (13) and ranks second in triples (four).
 
UTEP is making its second ever trip to Murfreesboro, Tenn., while it marks the final regular-season road trip of 2018. The Orange and Blue will close the regular season with five home consecutive home games, as a doubleheader against Texas Tech was recently added to the schedule on May 3. The Miners will host LA Tech during Senior Weekend May 5-6.
 
C-USA SOFTBALL QUICK RUNDOWN
LA Tech (15-6 Conference USA West) and FIU (10-7 C-USA East) lead its respective divisions. UAB (11-6-1) sits in third overall and second in the West, while Florida Atlantic (10-7) is fourth overall and Marshall (11-9-1) is fifth overall. North Texas (8-9) is in sixth. The next two teams are WKU (9-9) and Middle Tennessee (8-9), which sits at seven and eight, respectively. UTEP (7-11), Southern Miss (7-11), UTSA (6-12) and Charlotte (6-12) are on the outside looking in. FAU, FIU, UNT and MT have each played one less league game to this point of the season after cancellations during the weekend of April 21-22.
 
ALL-TIME SERIES VS. MIDDLE TENNESSEE
UTEP owns a 10-2 mark against MT, while winning two of three last season in El Paso and two of three in Murfreesboro, Tenn., in 2016. Last season, UTEP hit .376 in the three games, while scoring 19 runs. Kaitlin Ryder hit .444 (4-9) with a home run and six RBI. Pamala Baber hit .500 (5-10) with a double, triple and two runs scored. The Miners held off the Blue Raiders in game one, 7-6. MT scored four runs in the top seventh. UTEP scored three runs in the second behind Ryder's three-run home run and another three runs in the fourth frame. Taylor Sargent went 2-for-3 with two runs. UTEP, after registering 13 hits, overcame a MT five-run first inning and won game three to clinch the series victory. The Miners would eventually take a 10-5 lead after scoring a trio of runs in the fourth inning. MT put up another two runs in the fifth. Baber went 2-for-4 with two RBI and a run.
 
SCOUTING MIDDLE TENNESSEE
The Blue Raiders improved to 31-18 overall after a 3-1 victory at Tennessee State on April 25. Middle Tennessee, after splitting a two-game series against Florida Atlantic April 21, is 8-9 in Conference USA action and sits in eighth place in the overall league standings. The Owls and Blue Raiders didn't play the third game of the series due to rain. The Blue Raiders lead C-USA in batting average (.301) and hits (383), while ranking in the top five in multiple offensive categories. MT also ranks 33rd nationally with its .301 average. Summer Burgess leads MT with a .368 average (60-163), while ranking 13th in C-USA, and ranks second on the team with 18 stolen bases. MT has stolen 78 bases – ranked fourth in C-USA – as Precious Birdsong (.348 avg.) leads the team and ranks tied for fourth in C-USA with 24 stolen bags (27 att.), while also leading MT with 39 runs scored. Lexi Cushing ranks second in C-USA with her school record 12 home runs. Cushing broke the program's single-season mark with her 11th dinger hit against FAU. Cushing also leads the team with 40 RBI, which is also tied for the league lead. Morgan Harris (.359 avg.) has hit a pair of home runs and ranks second on the team with 29 RBI. The Blue Raiders' 2.68 ERA ranks third in C-USA as the staff ace is Cori Jennings (15-8). She leads the team in wins, ERA (2.23), innings pitched (138.0), K's (83), saves (two) and starts (21). Amber Baldwin (9-7), after Wednesday night's complete-game victory, is posting a 2.91 ERA in 103.1 innings with 45 K's. The MT pitchers have combined for 105 walks.
 
MINERS POTENT OFFENSE
UTEP ranks in the top five in 10 of 21 offensive categories in Conference USA. The Miners rank second in hitting (.286), third in slugging (.426), fifth in runs scored (199), fifth in hits (345), fourth in RBI (178), fifth in doubles (57), second in triples (11), fourth in home runs (30), fourth in total bases (514) and tied for second in hit by pitch (24). Miners rank sixth in on-base percentage (.350).
 
MINERS' SOLID DEFENSE
UTEP is tied for first with Marshall with 19 double plays turned, while the Miners' fielding percentage (.962) ranks fourth in Conference USA. UTEP's 49 errors are also tied for fourth least in C-USA. UTEP leads the league with 23 runners caught stealing. UTEP's 383 assists ranks seventh.
 
DIGGING OUT TRIPLES
UTEP ranks second in C-USA with 11 triples after Courtney Clayton tripled against Ole Miss on April 20. The season total is also ranked third in school history for most triples during a single season. The 2005 and 2015 Miners recorded 12 triples during their respective campaigns.
 
CC'ING TRIPLE
Courtney Clayton is tied for the Conference USA lead with a career-high four triples after digging one out against Ole Miss on April 20. With that, she now has six triples during her career, ranking tied for second on the program's all-time triple's list with Sarah Ramirez and teammate Taylor Sargent. Tahla Wade leads the all-time list with nine. Clayton registered a pair of triples in 2016.
 
CLAYTON MOVING UP THE RBI LIST
Courtney Clayton recorded a RBI against Ole Miss on April 20, giving the senior 114 during her career and now ranking fourth in the program's all-time RBI list behind Stacie Townsend (124).
 
IRON WOMAN
Courtney Clayton has been rock-solid during her career as the senior started her 202nd consecutive game on April 21 against Ole Miss. It ranks second in program history for most consecutive starts behind Stacie Townsend (217 consecutive starts). Both Clayton and Townsend have played in every game during their respective careers.
 
CC'S SUCCESSFUL CAREER
Courtney Clayton is ranked in the top five in multiple offensive categories. Clayton leads the all-time at bat's list with 661 in her career. Clayton's .362 career batting average is currently ranked third, while her runs (135) rank fifth behind Stacie Townsend (145). Clayton has totaled 239 hits, ranking second in program history (Camilla Carrera – 260 hits). Clayton ranks second with 51 career doubles (Carrera – 57). Clayton's 25 home runs rank tied for fourth with Simone Holland. Clayton ranks third in total bases (377), first in most sacrifice flies (eight) and first in most times reached base on error (32).
 
CC'S DEFENSE
Courtney Clayton ranks no. 1 in program history with 374 career assists. Clayton ranks 10th with 379 career putouts and sixth with 791 career chances.
 
COURT'S IN SESSION
Courtney Clayton has put up big numbers during her senior campaign. Clayton ranks second in Conference USA and leads the Miners in hitting (.407). Clayton also paces UTEP in slugging (.697), on-base percentage (.453), runs scored (34), hits (59), RBI (28), doubles (13), triples (four), home runs (seven) and total bases (101). In C-USA only games, Clayton is ranked tied for second with a .448 average in 18 league games, while her 26 hits are tied for fourth.
 
RYDING HIGH
Kaitlin Ryder entered UTEP's March 30 contest against UTSA with a .286 batting average after falling into a short slump. Since that game, Ryder is hitting .447 (17-38) with nine runs, seven RBI, two doubles, a triple and three walks. Ryder is upped her average to .331, ranking second on the team and 23rd in Conference USA. Ryder has also tallied 20 RBI, 24 runs, three home runs and 62 total bases.
 
RYDER'S CAREER NUMBERS
Kaitlin Ryder went 3-for-3 against Ole Miss on April 20 and added another hit against the Rebels the next day. Ryder now has 172 career hits, ranking seventh on the program's all-time list behind Kayla Oranger (174). Ryder ranks tied for seventh with four career triples, tied for ninth with 17 career home runs and ranked ninth with 95 career RBI.
 
RYDER'S SCHOOL RECORD
Kaitlin Ryder is the program leader with 19 career sacrifice hits after registering a trio sacrifice hits – the first at NM State on March 27 and two more against North Texas during the April 14 doubleheader. Ryder has four sac-hits to her credit in 2018 and entered the season with 15 sac-hits, ranking second.
 
WRIGHT'S STUFF
Julia Wright has thrown three consecutive complete games during her last three starts (2-1). Wright has recorded 21.0 innings (April 14-21) with 18 K's and only five walks, while fashioning a 1.67 ERA during those three starts. Wright posted wins against North Texas (April 14) and New Mexico (April 16). Wright also added a solid outing against SEC program Ole Miss on April 21, throwing all 7.0 frames, striking out five and only walking two. Against UNT during her game two win, Wright tied her career best with seven K's and only walked two in 110 pitches thrown. Wright followed with another win against New Mexico, tallying six K's, walking only one and allowing only four hits on 100 pitches.
 
JULIA SAVES
Julia Wright leads Conference USA with four saves, while ranking tied for 16th nationally. Wright's four saves are also tied for a program single-season record, tying Nicole Tunget's four saves in 2007. Wright's four career saves are also ranked tied for third with three other Miners on a career saves' list. Kaitlin Fifield ranks second with five career saves, while Tunget ranks first with six career saves.
 
100 K'S
Julia Wright has 89 strikeouts to lead UTEP in 115.1 innings pitched. Wright also ranks eighth in Conference USA in strikeouts. Wright is looking to be the first UTEP pitcher to reach 100-plus K's in a single season since Colleen Hohman recorded 108 K's in 2012. 
 
KACEY AT THE BAT
Kacey Duffield has been one of the Miners' top hitters as of late. Duffield was named the Conference USA Player of the Week on April 16 after a two-home run, seven-RBI performance after a weekend sweep of North Texas. Overall, Duffield is hitting .282 with five home runs and 20 RBI. Duffield's bat really picked up during conference play. The junior is hitting .321 in 18 C-USA games, while tallying a team-best four home runs and 14 RBI. Duffield ranks tied for fifth with in C-USA with four home runs, while her 14 RBI ranks tied for ninth.
 
DUFF-FIELDING
Kacey Duffield leads UTEP with 205 putouts, while her .990 fielding percentage ranks 10th in Conference USA. Her fielding percentage to this point of the season ranks eighth on the program's single-season fielding percentage list.
 
DRILL SARGENT
Taylor Sargent got off to a slow start as she entered the March 13 at Florida Atlantic hitting .218. Since then, Sargent is hitting .347 (17-49) with 14 runs four RBI, a double and two triples (18 games [March 13-April 21]). In 16 C-USA games played, Sargent is hitting .306 (11-36) with 10 runs, a double, triple and three RBI.
 
$ARGENT IS ON THE MONEY
Taylor Sargent has made multiple 'money' plays the last few games, while boasting a .992 overall fielding percentage, playing the majority of the season in right field. Sargent's throw to home from right to tag a runner out won game two against North Texas on April 14. Sargent followed with another assist from right to tag out a runner at home, this time against New Mexico on April 16. Of Sargent's 10 assists, four of them have come from the outfield. The first came at FAU on March 13, while she posted another against Ole Miss on April 21.
 
VALLES'S SOLID FRESHMAN CAMPAIGN
Ariana Valles has started all 47 games at the shortstop position as a true freshman. Valles came to her hometown college after graduating from Chapin High School. Overall, Valles leads the team with 89 assists, while ranking eighth in Conference USA. Valles is hitting .282 with 16 runs. Valles ranks second on the team in RBI (22), triples (two) and doubles (10). Valles registered a career-high three RBI at WKU on April 8. Valles scored a career-high three runs during UTEP's 11-5 victory against North Texas.
 
AIR BLAIR
Ariel Blair has made multiple exciting plays in center field during her career at UTEP, stealing home runs and make amazing diving catches. Besides her great defensive presence, Blair's offense has been solid. The El Paso native leads the team with a career-high nine stolen bases. Blair put up solid numbers during the North Texas sweep, opening with a career-high three runs scored and tied her career best in hits on a 3-for-4 effort. Blair, for the series, went 5-for-10 with five runs scored and a stolen base.
 
BLAIR CRACKS TOP 10
Ariel Blair, after posting a pair of sacrifice hits (vs. North Texas [April 14], vs. Ole Miss [April 20]), now has 11 during her career and ranks tied for seventh with five other Miners on the program's all-time sacrifice hits' list.
 
SMITH MOVING UP ASSIST'S LIST
Cortney Smith ranks second on the team with 66 assists, playing 46 games at third base. The junior has moved to seventh with 268 career assists, one behind Ashley Collazo. Kayla Oranger ranks fifth with 289. 
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