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El Paso, TX — The UTEP softball team returns to Conference USA action as it will play a three-game series against Middle Tennessee April 12 and 13. Saturday’s doubleheader will start at 2 p.m. MT, while Sunday’s contest is a noon start at the Helen of Troy Softball Complex. All games are free admission.
“We had a long three weeks and a tough road series,” head coach Tobin Echo-Hawk said. “But (the team’s) energy has been great and that’s nice to see them bounce back and have that type of fire. They’re still in control of their own destiny – and they realize that – I couldn’t ask for a better week of practice.”
The Miners (12-27, 4-8 C-USA) are happy to return to the Sun City after a two-week hiatus, as they face the last-place Blue Raiders (7-33, 2-12).
“It’s a familiar setting in front of their friends and family,” Echo-Hawk said. “Hopefully they can get back on track and it’s nice not to be in a foreign place. It’s great to be at home and get a full week of practice.”
UTEP is vying for a spot in the C-USA Tournament in Boca Raton, Fla. (May 8-10). Conference takes eight of the 13 schools.
UTEP is one game behind Louisiana Tech (15-25, 5-9) – a team it swept on March 15 and 16 in Ruston, La. Florida Atlantic (25-20, 7-8) and Southern Miss (19-21, 7-8) are tied for the eighth and final spot. The Miners lost two of three to Southern Miss on March 8 and 9, and will take on Florida Atlantic (April 18 and 19) in Boca Raton.
Following the Florida Atlantic series, the Miners willreturn to Helen of Troy to take on UTSA (18-21, 6-6) on April 26 and 27, and will finish out the regular season at East Carolina (20-15, 9-6). Senior Day will be held on April 27.
Charlotte (15-16, 6-8) also stands in the way of the Miners, but programs will not play each other this season.
Ashley Eldridge leads the conference in doubles per game (0.42), while her 16 total is ranked No. 2 in the nation, one behind Nevada’s Megan Sweet. Her 27 RBI is a team best, while her batting average (.333) isranked second. Eldridge also leads the team in stolen bags (seven).
Erika Arcuri is hitting a team-best .376 (47-for-125) and leads the Miners in runs scored (25). Arcuri is ranked second in conference in toughest to strikeout, only fanning every 20.8 at bats. The senior is also batting .410 in conference play.
Tahla Wade is hitting .310 and has tallied three triples – fourth best in conference. Colleen Hohman is hitting .310 and is tied with Alanna Leasau with a team-leading six long balls, while each have recorded 20 RBI.
Kawehiokalani Netane has had a hot bat recently. The sophomore is hitting .364, with two long balls and six RBI during the last seven games. She’s hit three home runs and has tallied 14 RBI during the 2014 campaign.
In conjunction with UTEP Open House, all three contests will be free admission to the public.
Saturday’s game is the ‘Fiesta Game’ as 200 #MinerStrong maracas will be given out at the entrance. Also, The Alumni Association will host a tailgate with games, activities and prizes starting 12:30 p.m.
Military Appreciation Day will be on Sunday, as service members and their families are encouraged to come out and support the Miners. American Flags will be distributed at the gates, while the Fort Bliss ColorGuard will be on hand.
Series vs. Middle Tennessee
Game one of Saturday’s doubleheader will mark the first meeting between the two programs.
The Blue Raiders are in the midst of an eight-game losing streak, after being swept by Marshall (April 5 and 6) and recently falling to Austin Peay, 8-0, on April 9.
The team is batting .255 and has hit 17 home runs, while scoring 144 runs. Laura Dukes leads the squad in hitting (.383) and has tallied 21 RBI. Kayla Toney is pacing the Blue Raiders in home runs (seven) and RBI(29). LaRi Mitchell leads in runs scored (27) and stolen bases (18). Mitchell’s stolen bases ranks third in the conference and 48th in the nation.
In the circle, Jordyn Fisherback is 3-12 with a team-best 4.69 ERA. Shelby Stinnett is 2-13 and leads the staff with 43 Ks. Caitlin McClure (2-8) has pitched 94 innings, a team best.
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