The UTEP softball team dropped the final curtain of the 2011 campaign on Sunday afternoon with a loss to Tulsa crowning the Golden Hurricane Conference USA Regular Season Co-Champions with the win.
The game marked the final appearance of seniors Courtney Auger, Kia Moore and Becky Smith at the Helen of Troy Complex. All three saw starts in their final time in a Miner uniform with Auger in the circle and Moore and Smith in their usual places on the outfield.
UTEP finished the season with a 16-37-1 overall record and 1-22-1 in league contests while Tulsa improved to 41-12 and 19-5 to advance as the second seed of the Conference USA Championships. The Golden Hurricane will share the 2011 regular season title with the Houston Cougars as both concluded the season tied atop the standings with sweeps in their respective series this weekend.
Tulsa got right to work opening the game with two runs in the top of the first and keeping the Miners off the scoreboard for the third consecutive game. Auger shut out Tulsa through four innings before giving up two more runs in the top of the sixth. The Canada native matched Tulsa’s hurler with seven strikeouts a piece.
Golden Hurricane pitcher Aimee Creger went into the bottom of the seventh with a no-hitter having given up just one walk in the second frame. Sophomore Kayleigh Walts denied Creger the no-hitter taking the first pitch for a single to centerfield, but the Miners were unable to capitalize off the opportunity going down in seven with a final score of 4-0.
The game concluded a struggling season for the Miners that saw the Conference USA Preseason Player of the Year Camilla Carrera take a redshirt year following injury. The unfortunate event was the first in a string of injuries that plagued the Miners through the season including Chelsea Troupe. Troupe was the league’s leader in just about every hitting category at the time she was viciously taken out by Houston’s Brooke Lathan’s on a play at the plate. Lathan was ejected from the game, but the Miners were forced to finish out the season without their top hitter.
The Miners are the only team out of nine out of the Conference USA Championships, the last time the Miners missed post –season play was in 2007.