Miners Lose Thriller to Aggies, 8-6
Feb. 9, 2014
LAS CRUCES, N.M. - Junior Ashley Eldridge hit her first-career home run, a three-run shot to center field, in a six-run sixth inning, but UTEP fell short to rival NM State, 8-6, on the final day of the Hotel Encanto Tournament at NM State Softball Complex.
It was the second day in a row in which the Miners (1-4) took command of a lead, but lost momentum after the Aggies (2-4) belted a grand slam to win their seventh straight over the I-10 rival.
"You never want to lose that way, especially when momentum's going in your favor," first-year head coach Tobin Echo-Hawk said. "We just need to do a better job of going out there and taking care of the little things."
During the wild sixth inning, the Aggies committed multiple fielding miscues that the Miners took advantage of.
Junior Samantha Alvillar started the inning with a single to left field, followed by a junior Tahla Wade sac-bunt. Senior Erika Arcuri reached first on an error and Alvillar advanced to third. A wild pitch plated Alvillar for the Miners first run of the game.
Another error placed senior Alanna Leasau on first (sophomore Morgan Rasmason was inserted as a pinch runner), while Arcuri advanced to third. A second wild pitch scored Arcuri, while Rasmason sprinted to second base. Senior Colleen Hohman walked (freshman Brianna Tourtillott was put in as a pinch runner) to set up the Eldridge at bat.
Eldridge, who performed well during the fall season, stepped to the plate and made the pitcher work. The native of Las Vegas, Nev. was on a full count and sprayed multiple foul balls. Eldridge then saw something she liked and cranked a jack to center field, giving her squad a 5-3 lead.
Senior Kayla Black lined to the shortstop for the second out, but starting pitcher sophomore Danielle Pearson singled up the middle to help her own cause. Alvillar went up to bat again and brought her teammate across the dish on a left line single, giving the Miners momentum and a 6-3 lead.
But the Aggies would respond.
Emma Adams reached on a single to left field with one out, followed by Tatum Reedy reaching first on a fielding miscue. Haley Nakamura grounded out to third for the second out - the Miners could not get that third out though.
At one point during the inning, a ball was hit in right foul territory. It seemed as if Alvilllar was going to make the out from second base, but high winds changed the direction of the ball, and she came up short with the final out.
"There were a couple of plays that we should've made and the game would've been a lot different," Echo-Hawk said. "Hopefully the team will grow from it and learn something so the next time we find ourselves in that situation, we are a better team."
The momentum swayed as Stacie Rodriguez hit a shot to the shortstop, scoring Adams. Brennalyn Nakamura was then walked, filling the bases. Lacey Rother sealed the deal with a grand slam to left field. It looked as if Black could make a catch on the wall but the ball just sailed over her head.
UTEP will travel to Las Vegas, Nev. to play in the 2014 Easton Desert Classic (Feb. 13-15). The Miners will open with Hawai'i on Thursday night (5:30 p.m. MT).