EL PASO, Texas - UTEP softball needed a four-game sweep of Louisiana Tech in order to jump the Lady Techsters for four 4th place, and qualification for the conference Tournament, in the Conference USA. The Miners arguably outplayed the Lady Techsters in both games Sunday, but were only able to come away with one victory.
In Game One, UTEP starter Isabella Kelly three three innings of two-hit ball as the Miners built a 3-0 lead. But a three-run home run from Madi Green of Louisiana Tech with two outs in the 6th inning gave the Techsters a 6-4 advantage that they would hold onto for the final score.
In Game Two, UTEP Coach TJ Hubbard sent Kelly out to the circle once more to start game two.
“I felt like (Kelly) did a pretty good job in the first game,” Hubbard said. “We just had to navigate around the strike zone the way it was set up with the home plate umpire. … I felt like that was the best option for us going back-to-back with her.”
Kelly worked through the LA Tech lineup with ease, not allowing a hit until midway through the fifth inning. She finished her outing with five shutout frames and eight total on the day. Offensively, one run was all UTEP needed.
The Miners strung together three baserunners in the fifth inning: a hit-by-pitch from fifth-year infielder Bryana Molina, a Pate Cathey single and a walk from senior infielder Ariana Valles. With two outs, Zaylie Calderon fell into an 0-2 count and worked a walk to bring home UTEP’s only run.
“I felt like the way (Kelly) was throwing today, if we could just get one across, we could probably hold onto it,” Hubbard said.
Kelly tossed 1.1 more innings before Calderon entered the game and shut the door on five of the last seven LA Tech batters of the game for her fourth save of the season.
UTEP softball is in position to take its first C-USA series of the season in tomorrow’s double-header versus Louisiana Tech at 2 p.m. and 4 p.m. MT.
“If we want to be able to continue to be in a spot to go to the tournament, we’re going to have to be ready to go,” Hubbard said. “I like what we did in game two, and if we’re able to string a couple more hits together for separation on the scoreboard, I think we’ll be in good shape tomorrow.”