UTEP softball to host Invitational this weekend

KDBC
Thursday, February 20, 2014 - 6:05pm

Softball fans will finally get an opportunity to see UTEP softball games in the Sun City. The Miners (1-9) will host the UTEP Invitational (Feb. 21-23) at the Helen of Troy Softball Complex. All games will be free this weekend.

The Miners will open with Incarnate Word (3:00 p.m. MT) and Houston Baptist (5:30 p.m.) on Friday.

“(Incarnate Word) is making the transition to Division I, but Houston Baptist has played some really good teams and had some good wins,” first-year head coach Tobin Echo-Hawk said. “(Houston Baptist) played Louisiana Tech, who’s in Conference USA, and eight-run ruled them. They can hit the ball, so our pitchers have to come out and get a win for us.”

The Orange and Blue will play five games in El Paso, including Saturday rematches against Houston Baptist (3:00 p.m.) and Incarnate Word (5:30 p.m.). The Miners will close the weekend out with Incarnate Word on Sunday (1:30 p.m.).

“It’s nice to be at home, play in front of our home crowd, and be on our home field,” Echo-Hawk said. “The team is excited because we’ve done what we need to do in order to prepare and work on the things we needed to. Hopefully we can get some wins. I would love for the fans to come out and see what the team has done so far. I would love for the fans to see how hard they’ve worked and how hard they’ve played the game. It’s fun to watch them because they’re out there having fun and enjoying what they do and I think that has shown.”

The Miners are off to a slow start, including a winless weekend at the Easton Desert Classic in Las Vegas (Feb. 13-15). Pitching and defense has struggled, but the bats have come alive so far.

“If you look at our record, you wouldn’t necessary see the progress that we’ve made,” Echo-Hawk said. “We’ve done a great job offensively and have scored a lot of runs. We need to get better on defense and shut people down to get that key out in certain situations.”

UTEP has been in the lead in seven of its first 10 games, including 6-2 win over St. Mary’s on Feb. 7 in Las Cruces, N.M.

Other games on the slate include: Friday, Feb. 21 – Incarnate Word vs. NM State (10 a.m.) and NM State vs. Houston Baptist (12:30 p.m.); Saturday, Feb. 22 – NM State vs. Houston Baptist (10 a.m.) and Incarnate Word vs. NM State (12:30 p.m.); Sunday Feb. 23 – NM State vs. Incarnate Word (11:00 a.m.).

This Weekend’s Matchups

Series vs. Incarnate Word (0-0)
UTEP has never faced Incarnate Word in program history.

Scouting Incarnate Word
The Cardinals are currently 6-1 on the season.

Kellen Robles leads the squad in batting average (.478) and has tallied five RBI. Alex Alonzo has a team-high seven RBI, while Christy Trevino is hitting .444 and has paced the team with six stolen bases. The Cardinals have stolen 25 bases in their first seven games. Pitcher Mikaela Flores is 3-0, with a 1.20 ERA in 11.2 innings and has fanned 18 batters.

Series vs. Houston Baptist (1-2)
UTEP fell to Houston Baptist, 6-3, in its last meeting on Feb. 20, 2011. The Huskies scored five runs in the first three innings as Kendall Stiefel pitched a complete game to pick up the victory. Kiarf Moore was 1-for-3 with two RBI and a run scored for the Miners.

Scouting Houston Baptist
The Huskies are currently 4-6 on the season, including an 8-0 victory over Louisiana Tech in five innings. Houston Baptist also slaughtered Jackson State, 24-1, in five innings on 19 hits.

Shay Orsak lead the squad with a .472 batting average (17-for-36) and has two home runs and 12 RBI. Kristen Schwirtlich is hitting .424 and has a team-leading three home runs and 13 RBI. Pitcher Emily Mueller is 3-1 on the season with a 1.71 ERA in 16.1 innings and 14 strikeouts. Stiefel leads the team with 29 Ks in 28 innings.

Miners Notes

Eldridge has been Money
Ashley Eldridge is off to a fast start during the first 10 games of the season. The junior outfielder leads the team with a .379 batting average (11-for-29) and 11 RBI. The native of Las Vegas, Nev. has ripped out six doubles and two home runs, including a grand slam against Hawai’i at the Easton Desert Classic in her hometown.

Arcuri to be Honored
Erika Arcuri will be presented with the 2013 Conference USA Newcomer of the Year award between UTEP’s two games on Saturday. The senior outfielder was recognized after the 2013 season when she led her squad with a .347 batting average and 26 runs scored. Arcuri transferred from FIU prior to the 2013 campaign.

Alvillar Comeback
Samantha Alvillar has made an immediate impact in her comeback with the Miners. The junior utility player is hitting .333 (12-for-36) at the leadoff position and leads the team in runs scored (eight). The native of Torrance, Calif. was redshirted during the 2013 season.

Getting off the Schnide
Senior Colleen Hohman and sophomore Kawehiokalani Netane blasted their first home runs of the season at the Easton Desert Classic this past weekend. Hohman hit her first to left field during the second inning against Boise State (part of a back-to-back with senior Alanna Leasau). Netane hit one to left center during the sixth inning against Long Beach State.

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