Miners Win Thrilling Third Game, Sweeps Middle Tennessee
April 13, 2014
EL PASO, Texas - The UTEP softball team stormed back from a 4-0 deficit to defeat Middle Tennessee, 6-5, on Sunday afternoon at the Helen of Troy Softball Complex.
The Miners (15-27, 7-8 Conference USA) completed their first home sweep of a conference foe since pulling out the brooms for Southern Miss on April 2 and 3, 2010.
"After the long stretch of games where we were losing a lot, I liked how the girls trusted each other and believed in themselves," head coach Tobin Echo-Hawk said. "They stayed the course and did a great job, both offensively and defensively, and making the right adjustments."
The Blue Raiders (7-36, 2-15) took a quick lead, scoring two runs in each of the first two innings.
But the lead would be cut on a couple swings.
Down four runs in the fourth inning, the Miners rallied on an Alanna Leasau two-run bomb to left center. Leasau ended her home run drought on a full-count pitch - her seventh of the season. Miraya Montiel then cut the lead to one, plating Danielle Pearson on a single to left field.
Taylor Lee would score another run for her squad on a bases loaded walk, but pitcher Colleen Hohman and Samantha Alvillar made key adjustments to get out of the inning. Alvillar made a heads-up play and threw out a base runner at home plate with bases filled, and Hohman threw an effective 2-2 pitch that got Marinna Shadley to fly out to right to end the inning.
The bottom fifth would see the Orange and Blue take the lead for good.
Kawehiokalani Netane led off the inning by sliding into first base on a short bunt single. Ashley Eldridge followed with a ground rule double - her 17th of the season. The hustle set up another clutch at bat by Leasau, who drove in her two teammates on a short blooper that fell between the second baseman and center fielder to tie the game. Montiel then gave her team the lead for good, knocking in pinch runner Jade Rodriguez on a single to right. Rodriguez beat the throw to home, whisking around third from second.
"Alanna had a great day at the plate with the home run," Echo-Hawk said. "But the most important one for us was the one where she hit a change up. She struggled with those all year, but that's one of the first times she's done a good job of sitting on it and actually doing what she needed to and getting those two RBIs."
Hohman (5-6) earned the win, but not without drama. She loaded the bases with two outs, but again used effective pitching as McKena Miller grounded out on the first pitch to end the game.
"(Hohman) did a nice job of putting (the ball) where we asked to," Echo-Hawk said. "Especially in that last inning, she put herself in that jam, but had enough confidence to get out of it and get outs for us."
This marked the second conference sweep of the 2014 campaign. The Miners last did that in 2010.
UTEP recorded 39 hits, including six long balls and scored 24 runs, while batting .459 on the weekend.
The Miners also surpassed their win total from last season's 13, while their seven conference wins is more than the program had the last three seasons - which was six during that span.
UTEP returns to action when it travels to Boca Raton, Fla. to take on Florida Atlantic in another key conference series (April 18 and 19).