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El Paso, TX — The UTEP softball team showed up to Helen of Troy Softball Complex determined to end a losing skid.
The Miners (14-27, 6-8 Conference USA) did just that and more, defeating Middle Tennessee, 5-3, in game one and then trouncing the Blue Raiders (7-34, 2-13), 13-2, during game two of Saturday’s doubleheader. The Miners connected on 27 hits and five home runs during the two victories.
“Our bats came to life,” head coach Tobin Echo-Hawk said. “When you hit the ball the way we did today, it’s hard to lose a game. We did a nice job with Colleen (Hohman) and Danielle (Pearson) mix-matching them andputting them in throughout the course of the game.”
Timely hitting and a solid one-two punch pitching rotation helped the Miners end their losing streak.
With the score 2-1 in favor of Middle Tennessee in the fifth inning, Ashley Eldridge crushed a three-run home run over the right field fence giving her team the lead. It was her first since Feb. 13 against Hawai’i in Las Vegas, Nev.
Tahla Wade got the rally started with an infield single, while Erika Arcuri used her speed to reach first on a bunt, setting up Eldridge’s go-ahead dinger.
In fifth, the Miners got an insurance run when Arcuri plated Miraya Montiel, giving her squad a 5-2 advantage.
Pitchers Colleen Hohman and Danielle Pearson combined for seven innings, seven Ks, only five walks and four hits. Pearson (6-10) earned the victory, while Hohman played closer and recorded her first save of the season.
Pearson was also effective at the plate, going 3-for-3 and Kawehiokalani Netane finished 2-for-2 during the early game. Arcuri recorded two RBI on a 3-for-4 performance.
UTEP set a school-record for hits (15) in and home runs (four) in one inning, as the Miners scored 13 runs during the record-setting second inning.
“It doesn’t get better than four home runs in one inning,” Echo-Hawk said. “I don’t think I’ve ever seen that as a coach, so it was nice to see them bust out and have that success.”
Pearson started the scoring frenzy with a sac-fly to left field that plated Eldridge, who started the inning with a single to left. Hohman then blasted a two run home run – but that was just the beginning.
Montiel reached on an error and Samantha Alvillar got off of mid-season slump, plating Montiel on a single to left field. Wade reached on a bunt single and Arcuri reached on a single to left to load the bases.
With the score 4-1 and bases loaded, Netane cranked a grand slam on a 0-0 pitch – her first grand slam of her young UTEP career and fourth home run of the season.
Eldridge made her way around the order and slammed herfourth long ball of the season – it was the first back-to-back home runs for the Miners since Leasau and Hohman hit a couple of shots against Boise State on Feb. 15 in Las Vegas.
Leasau continued the epic inning with a double to right center that set up another UTEP record. Hohman exploded for another long ball – her second of the inning to give the Miners an 11-1 lead.
The Miners would score two more as Kayla Black, who was inserted as a pinch hitter, sent Montiel home and Arcuri plated singled in Alvillar.
Hohman finished the impressive performance 3-for-3, with four RBI and two runs scored. Alvillar, Acruri, Netane, Edridge, Leasau alltallied two hits. Arcuri and Eldridge each recorded their 15th multi-hit game of the season.
The third game of the weekend series will start at 12 p.m. MT on Sunday at the Helen of Troy Softball Complex. Admission is free for all fans.
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