UTEP Softball to Compete at DeMarini Desert Classic

Junior UTL Taylor Sargent
Feb. 15, 2017

DeMarini Desert Classic Game Notes

EL PASO, Texas -
After a winless start to 2017, the UTEP softball team will look to bounce back at the DeMarini Desert Classic in Las Vegas, Nev. on Feb. 17-19. It will mark the fourth season in a row that the Miners will play in the annual Vegas weekend.

The Last Meeting
February 19, 2016
Las Vegas, Nev.
UTEP Blanks UNLV, 6-0, Behind Pearson’s First Career Shutout
The UTEP softball team split a pair of games on the first day of the DeMarini Desert Classic hosted by UNLV on Friday night at Eller Media Stadium. The Miners, behind Danielle Pearson’s complete game shutout, defeated UNLV, 6-0, during the second contest. Nevada rallied to defeat UTEP, 8-5, earlier in the day.

UTEP will face all Mountain West programs as it opens against host school UNLV (5:45 p.m. MT) and Nevada (8:00 p.m.) on Friday at Eller Media Stadium near the campus of UNLV. On the second day, the Miners will take on a Boise State (1:15 p.m.) and Utah State (5:45 p.m.). The weekend will conclude against San Jose State (10 a.m.). The Miners will play at Stephanie Lynn Craig Park on days two and three.

UTEP will play its first two contests at Eller Media Stadium against UNLV and Nevada. The Miners will be the designated `home' team against the Wolf Pack. On Saturday at Stephanie Lynn Park, UTEP will be the designated `away' team versus Boise State (Field 2), while the Miners will move to the bottom half of the scoreboard against Utah State (Field 2). On Sunday at SLC Park, UTEP will finish the weekend as the designated `away' team against San Jose State (Field 1). 

UTEP started the 2017 campaign 0-5 after falling to Stanford (10-1), Arizona State (8-0 [5]), Saint Mary's College (3-1), Virginia (5-4) and no. 17 Utah (9-0 [5]) Feb. 9-11 at the Kajikawa Classic in Tempe, Ariz. The Miners hit .189 and scored six runs. The pitching staff tallied an 8.06 ERA, while walking 33 batters. Taylor Sargent got off to a solid start, hitting .385 (5-of-13) and producing 31 putouts in five starts at first base. The second day, however, for the Miners was a better showing. Saint Mary's College scored a pair of runs in the top sixth inning to take the lead an eventual victory, while Virginia rallied from a 4-2 deficit by scoring a trio of runs in the bottom sixth to defeat UTEP. 



UTEP is 1-3 all-time against UNLV. The Miners, behind Danielle Pearson's first career shutout, blanked the Rebels, 6-0, on Feb. 19, 2016. Pearson hurled a complete game, allowing only three hits, walking two and striking out five on 87 pitches. Courtney Clayton went 2-for-3 with a pair of RBI and a run scored. Kiki Pepi also registered two RBI on a double to left in the first inning that gave her squad an early 2-0 lead. 

The Rebels started off their season going 3-2 at the Sportco Kick Off Classic last weekend. UNLV defeated Virginia Tech, 10-2, Louisville, 5-3 and Southern Utah, 4-0, while falling short to Indiana State, 11-5 and CSU Bakersfield, 5-1. As a team, the Rebels hit .319, with a total of 43 hits, 23 RBI's and scoring 25 runs. Brianna Gatlin led the team at the plate going 8-for-16 with two doubles, two triples, and four RBI. The Rebel pitchers recorded a team ERA of 3.09, with their senior of the staff, Morgan Ettinger, leading with a 2-0 start and a 1.20 ERA. She recorded 11 strikeouts, four walks and a save.   

UTEP is 2-10 all-time versus Nevada. The Miners last defeated the Wolf Pack, 8-1, in El Paso on March 27, 2008. The two programs met last season at the DeMarini Desert Classic last year, as Nevada topped UTEP, 8-5, on Feb. 19. The Miners took a 5-1 lead after scoring four runs in the bottom fifth. The bottom half began with a Taylor Sargent RBI double and ended with a Linda Garcia three-run bomb. But the Wolf Pack answered with four runs of their own in the top sixth and three more in the top seventh to claim victory. 

The Wolf Pack started off the 2017 season with a 3-2 mark at the Southeastern Louisiana Lion Classic this past weekend. Nevada took down Southern Illinois, 3-2 (8), Nicholls State, 1-0, and Southeastern Louisiana, 3-1. The Wolf Pack took their two losses from Tennessee-Martin, 12-4 and Army West Point, 6-5. Kali Sargent posted a 2-1 record, throwing 18.0 innings with five earned runs (1.94 ERA). Sargent tallied 12 Ks to only two walks. McKenna (1-1) Isenberg fanned 27 in 15.2 innings of work. Alyssa Mendez hit .500 with a team-best six RBI and a home run. Jennifer Purcell (.438 BA) registered four RBI during opening weekend.  

UTEP is 0-1 against Boise State. The two schools met back on Feb. 15, 2014 at the Easton Desert Classic in Las Vegas, Nev. as the Broncos defeated the Miners, 16-9, in a game that went over three hours. With the contest knotted 9-9, Boise State rambled off seven runs in the top seventh on only three hits. Kaitlin Fifield saw action, as the then-freshman threw 2.1 innings, walked five and struck out a pair.   

The Broncos began the season in Hawai'i at the Paradise Classic last weekend. With two of their five games being cancelled due to rain, they left the Island with a 1-2 record. Boise State beat UAB, 4-2, and lost to both Hawai'i, 5-3, and Sacramento State, 8-3. In these first three games, the Broncos offense totaled 20 hits and a .263 average. Rebekah Cervantes lead the team at the plate recording four hits with two doubles, a home-run and three RBI. The Broncos pitching staff came out of the weekend with an ERA of 6.16, while junior, Paige Reimann, earned her first win of the season with three strikeouts. 

UTEP is 0-2 all-time against Utah State. The Miners and Aggies met on Feb. 20, 2016 at the DeMarini Desert Classic. UTEP fell 6-1 as Utah State allowed only one hit in the contest. Kaitlin Ryder scored the Miners' lone run on an error. 

The Aggies attended the Easton Invitational in Fullerton, Calif. to start of their season. Utah State finished the weekend with a record of 4-1, taking down Pacific, 5-3, North Dakota State, 2-1, Loyola Marymount, 9-5, and Cal State Fullerton, 7-3. The Broncos recorded their only loss of the weekend to Loyola Marymount, 3-1, on the last day. The Aggies hit .261, while scoring 24 runs. Paxton Provost led the Aggies with a .467 batting average (7-of-15), while Amanda Sheets and Sydney Hart each tallied a team-best four RBI. Kellie White posted a 2-0 record in 15.0 innings of work with only four earned runs (2.40 ERA). April Brown (1-0) threw 14.1 innings, fanning 10 and only walking two.    

UTEP is 4-9 all-time versus San Jose State. The Miners last defeated the Spartans, 7-4, on Feb. 12, 2010. The two faced each other on Feb. 20, 2016 at the DeMarini Desert Classic as the Spartans beat up on the Miners, 16-3 (five innings). The score was 5-3 in favor of SJSU heading into the fifth, but SJSU exploded for 11 runs to put the game away. Kiki Pepi finished the contest 3-for-3 with two RBI, while Kaitlin Ryder added another. Cortney Smith, Courtney Clayton and Pepi each scored runs. Clayton, Ryder and Smith each registered two hits in the game. 

The Spartans attended the Kajikawa Classic in Tempe, Ariz. to kick off their 2017 season. San Jose State left the weekend with a 3-3 record, taking games from Creighton, 7-3, Virginia, 1-0, and UC Riverside, 11-2 in five innings. The Spartans were defeated by Western Michigan, 5-1, no. 9 Oregon, 8-0, and no. 17 Utah, 8-5. Although the Spartans only had a .260 batting average as a whole, Casey Watt shined through at the plate with a .438 average and six RBI. Senior pitcher, Katelyn Linford, recorded her first two wins of season with 16 strikeouts. 

Seven new Miners saw game action this past weekend in Arizona as freshmen Mallorie Cross, Pamala Baber, Macey Brown, Bryanna Molina and Devyn Cretz experienced their first Division I action. Transfer student-athletes Mariah Ellis and Brianna Red saw the field for the first time in UTEP uniforms as well. Cross made three starts (two at catcher, one at the designated player) and hit .250, while registering her first career RBI. Cross added six putouts and an assist. Cretz pitched 3.2 innings, struck out four, walked two and allowed three hits with one earned run (1.91 ERA). Ellis went hitless and tallied three putouts in four starts in the outfield. Baber tallied one hit on eight at bats, while scoring a run and producing six putouts in four starts in the outfield. Brown, Red and Molina combined for no hits in six at bats. Red did tally a putout while playing second base. 

UTEP, after turning a school-record 30 double plays last year, keeping the defensive prowess in tact as it turned four double plays at the Kajikawa Classic. The Miners turned the second most double plays in Conference USA this past weekend (FIU turned five). Nationally, after the first weekend, UTEP ranks tied 12th in double plays per game (.80) and tied seventh with 14 other schools with four double plays turned. Campbell turned six DPs, while five other schools (FIU, McNeese, Virginia, Iowa & Georgia Tech) turned five DPs. 

Despite the slow start to the season, the UTEP defensive effort was evident as it fashioned a .976 fielding percentage in Tempe. The Miners only committed three errors in five games, while they tallied 36 assists - the third most of any Conference USA school during opening weekend. Last season, UTEP registered a .962 fielding percentage - the second best during a single season in program history. 

UTEP recorded 36 assists during opening weekend, as Kiki Pepi led the squad with 14 assists. Pepi set a school record by recording 134 in 2016. Courtney Clayton registered nine assists and Hope Moreno tallied seven. Moreno also tied her career best by dishing out three assists against Saint Mary's College on Feb. 10 at the third base position. 

Taylor Sargent and Ariel Blair each tied their career highs in hits during the weekend. Sargent went 3-for-3 against Saint Mary's College on Feb. 10 to tie her career best for the fourth time in her career, while it was the third time she went perfect in three at bats. Blair also tied her career best with a 3-for-3 outing against Virginia on Feb. 10. It's the first perfect performance on three at bats for Blair as registered a 3-for-4 day on Feb. 21, 2016. Sargent is hitting .385 (5-for-13) to lead the Miners and Blair is hitting .375 (3-for-8) to begin the campaign. 

Taylor Sargent started the first five games at first base, while leading the team with a .385 batting average to lead the weekend. Sargent also tallied 31 putouts, the seventh most by any Conference USA player during opening weekend. The junior also registered a 13-putout effort against Saint Mary's College, tied with FIU's Stephanie Texeira during a single game so far in 2017. 

Ariel Blair tied her career high with a pair of runs scored against Virginia after a 3-for-3 night on Feb. 10. It's the fourth time in Blair's career that the sophomore scored two runs in a single contest. The El Paso native last did it against FIU in the Conference USA Tournament on May 11, 2016. Blair scored two runs against Incarnate Word on Feb. 11, 2016 and another pair against LA Tech on May 19, 2016. 

Hope Moreno drew two more hit by pitches during opening weekend. The junior was actually hit twice in the 2017 opener against Stanford on Feb. 9 to tie a school record with 16 other players. Moreno has led the Miners in HBP during her first two seasons - eight in 2015 and 10 in 2016. Moreno has been hit 20 times in her career, tying Holland Simone four fourth on the program's all-time list. Amber Bennett was hit 27 times, while Ashley Ellis (26) and Chelsea Troupe (24) round out the list.

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