After three and half weeks of practice, the 2013 UTEP Softball season will get underway tomorrow afternoon. The Miners will begin with a doubleheader against Sacramento State (12:30 p.m. MT) and Fresno State (5:30 p.m. MT) at the Fresno State Kick-Off. Miner fans will be able to follow the games with Gametracker.
“We’re really excited to get started,” co-head coach Kathleen Rodriguez said. “All the girls have been working really hard. They’re ready to start competing against somebody that doesn’t have blue and orange on their chests. It’s an exciting time for us and we’re ready to see what we have.”
The Miners will be without 2012 sluggers Camilla Carrera and Chelsea Troupe, who combined for 51 home runs. But co-head coaches Kathleen and James Rodriguezwill kick off the program’s 10th season with veteran leadership and new, young talent.
The seniors include catcher/infielder Charissa Ballesteros, infielder Ashley Collazo, pitcher Joanna Krienitz, infielder Kayla Oranger, pitcher Cynthia Villastrigo and catcher Kayleigh Walts. Oranger finished the 2012 campaign third on the team in hitting (.346), while Villastrigo led in wins (7) and Krienitz was third on the team in wins (3). On defense Collazo led in assists (86) and Walts finished second in putouts (165).
Returning to the team as juniors are utility player Kayla Black, pitcher/infielder Colleen Hohman, and pitcher/utility player Laura Ramos. The Miners also found junior transfers in outfielder Erika Arcuri, infielder Alanna Leasau, and infielder Miraya Montiel. Black finished third on the squad in home runs (3) and RBI (30), while Ramos contributed eight runs and four RBI. Hohman led all pitchers in innings (147.2). Arcuri had 18 runs and stole seven bases during her sophomore campaign at Florida International. Leasau hit three home runswith 11 RBIs at Tallahassee Community College, while Montiel hit .378 with 19 RBI at Yavapai.
Miners returning for their second season are sophomore outfielders Ashley Eldridge and Tahla Wade, while former Coronado High School (El Paso) standout McKenzey Finley returns at catcher. Eldridge and Finley did not see much action their freshman years, while Wade finished second in stolen bases (4).
The Rodriguez’s brought in five freshmen for the new season. The new Miners include former Americas High School (El Paso) standouts Taylor Grohmann and Jade Rodriguez. Kawehiokalani Netane and Danielle Pearson both come from CypressCreek High School in Orlando, while Morgan Rasmason comes from Windsor, Calif. Grohmann (1.96 ERA) and Rodriguez (.77 ERA) helped Americas complete a 30-5 record in 2012. Netane hit an outstanding .536 with seven home runs and 36 RBI, whilePearson compiled 15 wins with a 1.92 ERA. Rasmason hit .535 with 27 stolen bases at Windsor High School.
“We’re excited,” co-head coach James Rodriguez said. “We got in a handful of freshman and three transfers and they’re all going to help out. We’re young but we’re going to be fun to watch.”
The Miners continue their weekend on Saturday Feb. 9 against UC Riverside (4:45p.m. MT) and UC Davis (9:15 p.m. MT). The tournament wraps up on Sunday against UC Riverside (10 a.m. MT). Local fans will have an opportunity to get theirfirst taste of UTEP Softball when the Miners face I-10 rival New Mexico State on Feb. 12 in Las Cruces starting at 5:30 p.m. MT, while the home opener is Feb. 23 versus New Mexico State (1:30 p.m. MT) at the Helen of Troy Softball Complex. Admission will be free for the home opener in conjunction with the2013 National Girls and Women in Sports Day.