Feb. 5, 2009
UTEP Release - Week 1
EL PASO, Texas - The UTEP softball team will open its 2009 campaign on Friday at the Kajikawa Classic in Tempe, Ariz. The Miners will face Kansas and No. 7 Arizona on Friday, Oregon and Portland State on Saturday and tournament host No. 2 Arizona State on Sunday.
THIS WEEK IN MINERVILLE...
The Miners open their 2009 slate at the Kajikawa Classic in Tempe, Ariz. ... the Miners will face Pac-10 powerhouses Arizona, Arizona State (both ranked in Top 25 preseason polls) and Oregon as well as the Big 12's Kansas and Portland State from the Big Sky ... the Miners welcome back eight letterwinners from 2008, including All-Conference USA honorees Amber Bennett, Camilla Carrera and Stacie Townsend ... the Miners add eight new faces, seven freshman and one junior transfer, to replace seven seniors from the previous season ... the Miners are led by the husband and wife combination of Kathleen and James Rodriguez, who have been with the program since its inaugural start in 2004.
A LOOK BACK...
UTEP capped off its 2008 season with a 30-24 overall record and a 10-14 Conference USA finish to rank sixth in league standings ... the 30 wins were the most victories in UTEP's short softball history ... the Miners also advanced to the semifinals of the Conference USA Championships in their first appearance in a league tournament ... the Miners also split a doubleheader series with seventh-ranked Arizona at Helen of Troy ... the Miners captured their first conference series sweep on the road at East Carolina ... Camilla Carrera became the first player in the Orange and Blue to be named to two all-league teams - first team All-Conference USA and Conference USA's All-Freshman team ... the Miners continued their dominance on the offensive side of the ball, to finish the season ranked nationally in doubles per game (11th), home runs (36th) and 41st in scoring.
A LOOK FORWARD...
The Miners will next head down the street to I-10 rival New Mexico State to take part in the Troy Cox Classic, Feb. 12-15 ... the Miners open the tournament against the Aggies on Thursday, Feb. 12 at 6 p.m. ... the Miners will also face Saint Mary's [Calif.] and Central Michigan on Friday and Eastern Illinois on Saturday ... bracket competition is slated for Sunday.
Kansas finished 37-19, 7-11 in Big 12 play in 2008 ... Kansas returns eight starters and 13 letterwinners from last season.
Series History: Friday's game marks the first meeting between the two teams.
Pitching Staff: All three pitchers from a year ago return to the bullpen ... Kansas is led by Valerie George who ended 2008 with a 1.96 ERA ... she posted six shutouts and four combined and fanned 185 batters in 179 innings of play ... but that's not all - Sarah Vertelka and Allie Clark also posted winning records in the circle with 10-5 and 9-4 finishes, respectively.
At the Plate: Kansas returns their top three hitters from a year ago, Dougie McCaulley, Val Chapple and Liz Kocon ... the trio recorded a little less than half of the Jayhawk's hits, combining for 147 ... Chapple scored a team-high 40 runs for Kansas and was the team leader in home runs (9) and RBI (37) to bat .303 for the season and was 12 of 13 in stolen bases.
Arizona is ranked seventh in the both the ESPN/USA Softball and USA Today/NFCA preseason polls ... Arizona ended its 2008 slate with a 41-19 record en route to its 19th College World Series ... Arizona is led by All-American returnees Laine Roth and Brittany Lestrapes.
Series History: Arizona hold the series at 2-1 against UTEP.
Pitching Staff: Lindsey Sisk and Sarah Akamine return to the circle for the Wildcats ... Arizona loses ace pitcher Taryne Mowatt ... Sisk was 10-3 a year ago with an ERA of 1.62 and Akamine finished 2-1 in six appearances.
At the Plate: Five of Arizona's offense blasted double-digit long ball in 2008 ... of the five, four return (Jenea Leles, Roth, Stacie Chambers and Sam Banister) ... Lestrapes led Arizona at the plate, batting .364 in 2008 ... she also led Arizona in hits (68) and runs (52).
The Last Time Out: The Miners split the twin bill with Arizona in El Paso ... the Miners' five runs in the third inning and four runs in the fourth gave the Miners the stunning Game 1 victory ... the celebration was short lived as Arizona came back to win, 8-2, in the nightcap.
Oregon is coming off a 35-29 (5-17 Pac-10) 2008 season and a trip NCAA regional final in Oklahoma ... Oregon received votes in both the USA Today/NFCA and ESPN/USA Softball preseason polls.
Series History: The Miners are 0-1 against Oregon.
Pitching Staff: Melissa Rice and Brittany Rumfelt return to the circle for the Ducks ... Rice boasts Oregon's highest ERA from 2008 (2.31) but lose their strike out and victory leader Alicia Cook ... Rice finished 12-11during the 2008 campaign with 87 strikeouts in 139.1 innings of play.
At the Plate: Neena Bryant is Oregon's offensive leader at the plate ... she hit .330 a year ago while leading the Ducks in hits (64) and long balls (10) ... Sari-Jane Jenkins will also be a force with the bat, recording a team-leading 37 runs.
The Last Time Out: The Miners fell 8-0 in five innings to No. 18 Oregon on Feb. 19, 2006 ... Jennifer Davis, Amber Bennett and former Miner Sara Hernandez were able to connect for singles, but the Ducks tallied six runs in the third inning and a two-run homer in the fifth for the final.
SCOUTING PORTLAND STATE...
Portland State returns eight starters and 12 letterwinners from the 2008 campaign ... the Vikings finished 2008 with a 31-27 overall record and 13-7 in the Pacific Coast Conference.
Series History: Portland State leads the series 1-0.
Pitching Staff: The Vikings lose all-conference player Mandy Hill but return Nicole Latham who made 32 appearances for Portland State last season ... Latham finished 11-10 in the circle with 108 strikeouts in 138.2 innings pitched ... Portland State adds a pair of junior transfers and a freshman to the bullpen.
At the Plate: Look for Jana Rae Slayton and Arielle Wiser to lead Portland State offensively ... both hit over the .300 mark last season ... the two punched out over 50 hits each and combined for 53 runs, nine doubles, three triples and six long balls.
The Last Time Out: The Miners lost 6-3 to Portland State on Feb. 17, 2006 ... Portland jumped to a 5-0 score after five innings of play ... the Miners scored three runs in the sixth and seven innings but fell short of the comeback.
SCOUTING ARIZONA STATE...
Arizona State won its first NCAA Women's College World Series title in 2008 en route to a 66-5 overall record and a 18-3 record in Pac-10 play to capture the league title ... Arizona State was picked second in the USA Today/NFCA preseason poll and third in the ESPN/USA Softball poll.
Series History: The series is knotted at 2-2.
Pitching Staff: ASU lost two pitchers coming into the 2009 slate, including WCWS winner Katie Burkhart ... Megan Elliot is the lone hurler returning to the circle but had a flawless 20-0 record in 25 appearances and secured a 2.24 ERA ... in 131.1 innings of play, she fanned 108 batters while tossing six shutouts.
At the Plate: Named to the ASA Top 50 Watch list for Player of the Year and a three-time All-American, Kaitlin Cochran returns as the Sun Devils' hitting leader in 2008, batting .439 ... she connected for 86 runs on 76 hits, had 19 doubles, four triples and 14 long balls to tally 51 RBI ... she was also 11-of-14 in stolen bases.
The Last Time Out: The Miners swept Arizona State 5-4 and 8-7 on March 20, 2007 ... the Miners combined for just 12 hits compared with ASU's 21, but four home runs gave the Miners what they needed for the two-game upset ... Stacie Townsend laced a walk-off home run in Game 1 for the win, but the nightcap proved to be not as easy, as the game went to 10 innings before a single by Ashley Ellis drove the winning run home for the sweep.
UTEP VS. RANKED OPPONENTS...
The Miners are 3-23 all time against ranked opponents ... the Miners' last victory over a ranked opponent came in 2008 when UTEP defeated No. 7 Arizona, 9-6 at Helen of Troy ... all three of the Miners' victories occurred on UTEP's home field - Helen of Troy ... all three victories were against two teams from The Grand Canyon State - a doubleheader sweep over Arizona State in 2007 and one game versus Arizona in 2008.
THE MINERS IN SEASON OPENERS...
The Miners are 2-3 in season openers ... the Miners opened their inaugural campaign with a 9-1 home victory over Sul Ross State in 2004 ... the Miners defeated Sam Houston State at home in a 4-0 shutout ... the Miners' three losses were all on the road with one being in neutral territory ... last season, the Miners dropped a 3-2 decision in its season opener at Stephen F. Austin.
PRESEASON ALL-CONFERENCE USA...
Amber Bennett, Camilla Carrera and Stacie Townsend were tabbed preseason All-Conference USA ... UTEP's three selections were the second most in the league behind Houston's five ... Bennett, Carrera and Townsend were All-Conference USA honorees in 2008 ... the three selections marked another first for the Miners, as UTEP had never garnered more than preseason selection.
MINERS CONTINUE THE CLIMB...
UTEP's fifth season of softball in 2008 continued to bring a multiple of firsts ... the Miners garnered their first 30-win season ... the Miners participated in their first league championships ... the Miners advanced to the semifinal for the first time in history ... the Miners landed two players on the All-Conference USA first team .... the Miners' Camilla Carrera became the first Miner to be named to two post season team honors ... the Miners defeated a ranked opponent in back-to-back seasons for the first time in school history ... the Miners swept a series from a conference opponent for the first time in school history.
Kathleen and James Rodriguez begin their sixth season at the helm of the softball program ... the two are co-head coaches, one of three husband and wife combinations in the country (the Lotief's at Louisiana-Lafayette and the Weekly's at Tennessee) ... the two have brought the program a long way since being announced as the Miners' first head coaches of the UTEP's new intercollegiate program ... since being at UTEP, the two have tutored 14 all-conference selections, 15 NFCA Scholar Athletes, six academic all-conference and nine conference Players of the Week.
A YOUNG TEAM...
After losing seven letterwinners from the 2008 season, the Miners add eight new faces to the 2009 squad ... seven freshman (Ashley Collazo, Kelynn Frye, Kristin Lusby, Chelsea Mayer, Diana Parada, Chelsea Troupe and Courtney Ware) and a junior transfer, Becky Smith ... the freshman class hails just one pitcher after the Miners lost three, but add an arsenal of versatility as four of the seven can play multiple positions.
MINERS FACE TOUGH SCHEDULE...
The Miners will face on of their toughest schedules in the history of the program ... the Miners christen the 2009 slate with three NCAA regional qualifiers ... the Miners will take on defending national champion Arizona State, highlighting the 2009 schedule ... in addition the docket includes 10 NCAA tournament teams and five top-25 opponents from a year ago ... the schedule compares with that of UTEP's inaugural season, where the Miners squared off against five top-25 teams (No. 24 Georgia Tech, No. 2 Arizona, No. 12 Tennessee, No. 12 Fresno State and No. 25 Tulsa).
MINERS TO HOST CONFERENCE-USA SOFTBALL CHAMPIONSHIPS...
UTEP will host for the 2009 Conference USA Championship, May 7-9, at the state-of-the-art Helen of Troy Softball Complex ... this marks the first time in the history of the program the Miners will host league championships ... the championship game is slated for Saturday, May 9, and will be televised live by CBS College Sports for the fourth consecutive year.