UTEP set to begin softball season Friday

KDBC
Wednesday, February 5, 2014 - 11:40pm

The UTEP softball team under the guidance of first-year head coach Tobin Echo-Hawk opens the 2014 season against No. 9 Nebraska on Friday (9:30 a.m. MT) at the Hotel Encanto Tournament hosted by NM State.

The Miners will also face St. Mary’s (11:30 a.m. MT) in the second game of the doubleheader.

“We are really excited to play,” Echo-Hawk said. “It’s been a long couple weeks of practice, and the kids are itching to get on the field and see how much their hard work has paid off. It’s going to be a tough weekend, we play Nebraska and Florida State – even New Mexico State – they’re all top teams in the country. It’s a good way to see where we stand. We want to see what things we are good at, and see what things we need to work on. The key is to make sure we get better each weekend and keep progressing as the season goes on.”

Echo-Hawk played at Nebraska from 1993-1996 as a thirdbaseman. She was a four-time All-Big XII Conference selection.

The Miners are coming off a disappointing 2013 season,winning 13 games, including only two Conference USA games. UTEP has missed the last three conference tournaments.

Returning Miners
Five seniors grace the roster during Echo-Hawk’s first season at the helm.

Alanna Leasau returns her team-leading eight homeruns and 40 RBI. The 2013 Conference USA Newcomer of the Year Erika Arcuri led the Orange and Blue with a .347 batting average and 26 runs scored, while striking out 11 times in 144 at bats. Kayla Black, a native of Clint, Texas, returns with five-career home runs and 52 RBI in three seasons with the Miners. Pitcher/infielder Colleen Hohman won five games in 2013, while hitting two home runs and tallying 13 RBI. Miraya Montiel started 39 games at shortstop, andcontributed five RBI, seven runs and 87 putouts.

Sophomore Danielle Pearson returns as the Miners leading pitcher in wins (six), strikeouts (73) and innings pitched (156.2). Sophomore Kawehiokalani Netane, a high school teammate with Pearson, comes back with a .277 battingaverage, two home runs, 10 RBI and six stolen bags.

Scouting Nebraska
The Cornhuskers are coming off a 45-16 season, a No. 8 final ranking and a seventh trip to the Women’s College World Series. The Cornhuskers return Taylor and Tatum Edwards, Emily Lockman, and Alicia Armstrong. Taylor hit a team-leading 13 home runs and tallied 54 RBI, while sister Tatum posted a 1.91 ERA, forged a 30-10 record (30 complete games) and struck out 229 batters in 253.1 innings. Lockman won 15 games with a 1.78 ERA, and Armstrong led the squad with a .346 batting average.

Scouting St. Mary’s
The Gaels finished 20-31 in 2013, including a 3-9 record on neutral fields. Sarah Lira returns her seven home runs and 24 RBI, while Lujane Mussadi posted a 13-13 record (20 complete games) and a 2.24 ERA her freshman season. Elizabeth Slaughter hit .288, one home run and pitched in six RBI last season.

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