UTEP Softball Falls to St. Mary's in Dramatic Fashion

Freshman Kaitlin Fifield notched nine Ks in her first start with the Orange and Blue.

Feb. 8, 2014

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LAS CRUCES, N.M. - Freshman Kaitlin Fifield struck out nine in her first-career start and senior Alanna Leasauhammered a two-run home run in the fifth inning, but it wasn't enough as UTEP fell to St. Mary's 11-10 in nine innings on Saturday at the Hotel Encanto Tournament.

"I would've liked to get the win," first-year head coach Tobin Echo-Hawksaid. "But I was pretty proud of how they kept battling and they kept going at them. Our offense had a lot of key people step into key situations and get some hits."

The Miners (1-3) had an 8-2 lead heading into bottom of the sixth inning after scoring three runs in the top half. Sophomore Kawehiokalani Netane singled down the left field line that plated junior Samantha Alvillar. Netane would later score on an error, and junior McKenzey Finley'ssingle to left field brought Leasau across the dish.

In that bottom half, the Gaels (1-3) scored six runs, all with two outs, to tie the contest. Fifield had pitched 5.2 innings and walked four, but got into trouble. Sophomore Danielle Pearsoncame into relief with the score 8-4, but St. Mary's plated three more runners, and eventually evened the score on a wild pitch.

"I couldn't be happier in her first time out as a freshman, she did an awesome job," Echo-Hawk said. "She keeps the ball low, she gets us ground balls, and she gets us strikeouts. I think she's going to have a great career. We just have to make sure we keep getting better, and once we get ourselves into a jam, being able to get out of them."

Due to international rules during extra inning conference games, Alvillar was placed at second base to start the eighth inning. Senior Erika Arcuriplaced Alvillar at third on a sac-bunt. The Miners went on to take the lead when Leasau hit a ball to the shortstop, but was able to advance to second base on a throwing error that brought Alvillar home. Pearson would then double to center field that got Leasau around third and then called out at home on a 8-6-2 defensive play.

St. Mary's tied the game again, while the Miners once again took the lead in the top of the ninth on a senior Miraya Montieldouble to left that scored Pearson. But the Miners, due to fielding miscues, could not hold the Gaels in check as Erica Musgrave drove in the game winning runs on a single to right field.

"Though offensively we're right where we want to be," Echo-Hawk said. "It's just defensively we need to make sure we take care of the ball and our pitcher don't put too much pressure on themselves and kind of stay within themselves and do what they need to do to in order to get outs."

The Miners fell to No. 12/15 Florida State 8-0 in five innings earlier in the day as freshman Erika Harrawood had a first-career start and redshirt freshman Taylor Grohmanngot some innings in.

"It was good to see a couple kids get on the mound and get some innings," Echo-Hawk said. "You start in the first game with Erika going out and giving up four runs but coming back the very next inning and giving up one. She made some good adjustments and then Taylor came in and did a great job of hitting her spots and doing what she needed to do."

The Miners will finish the weekend tournament when they face NM State on Sunday at 1:30 p.m. MT at the NM State Softball Complex.



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