Miners Split Conference Home Opener
March 8, 2014
EL PASO, Texas - The UTEP softball team did something that didn't happen in 2013 - win a conference home game. UTEP defeated Southern Miss, 5-1, in game one of Saturday's doubleheader, but fell, 8-6, in game two at the Helen of Troy Softball Complex.
The Miners (8-14, 1-1 Conference USA) will face the Golden Eagles (7-13, 1-1 C-USA) in the third game of the series on Sunday (Noon MT).
UTEP 5, Southern Miss 1
Danielle Pearson (4-6) pitched a complete game, allowing only three hits and three walks, and Kayla Black (1-for-3) nailed a two-run home run to leftfield in the fourth inning to lead the Miners. Black's long ball was her first since March 31, 2012.
"We came out and our offense did what they needed to do," head coach Tobin Echo-Hawk said. "Danielle (Pearson) did a great job of keeping them off balance. She got herself out of some jams and had some big plays when we needed them."
With the Miners leading 2-1, one of those big plays came from Black in the top fourth with one out.
A ball was hit to left field by pinch hitter Selena Estrada with runners on first and second. Estrada hit the ball to leftfield, but the swirling winds caught the ball, forcing Black to make a late adjustment. The ball went over her head, but she extended her arm out high and recorded the fly out. The runner at second assumed the ball would be fair, but was forced to go back to second. It was too late as Black threw to second baseman Miraya Montiel for the double play.
UTEP 6, Southern Miss 8
The Miners had, what looked like, a commanding 6-1 lead heading into the top of the fifth inning. But the Golden Eagles took advantage of fielding miscues, scoring a run in the fifth, four runs in the sixth and two more runs in the seventh.
"We were doing well and capitalized on some of their mistakes," Echo-Hawk said. "But we kicked it in cruise control and thought that we could just finish the game that way. That's not how this game works. At any given time, anybody can come back we need to do a better job at taking care of the little things. We beat ourselves and made timely mistakes."
Eldridge knocked in three more runs and Alanna Leasau hit her fifth home run of the season - a solo shot to left center in the second inning. Hohman pitched five solid innings and tallied an RBI.