I've been waiting most of this late winter and early spring to have something positive to write about Maryland's softball team. With Wednesday's 10-2 run rule win over the visiting Delaware State Hornets, at last I do. After coming from behind with a three run seventh inning to pull out a 4-2 win at Boston College Sunday, Wednesday's win marked the first time this season the Terps put together back to back victories.
Though their season record sits at 5-30 and 3-11 in the ACC, the two wins give Maryland some momentum heading into a weekend series with Virginia Tech. Nine of the Terps' final eleven games are against ACC foes and the top eight teams will make the ACC Tournament. Maryland still has some work to do if they are to appear in the tourney they are hosting. The Terps currently sit in tenth place - two and a half games behind eighth place Boston College.
Delaware State entered the game with a record of 22-12 and are the top team in their conference (Mid Eastern Athletic Conference) but the Terps jumped all over them. After Kaitlyn Schmeiser retired the side in order in the top of the first, Amanda McCann led off the bottom half of the inning with a line drive to right center that rolled all the way to the fence. McCann ended up on third with a lead off triple. Catcher Shannon Bustillos drove her home with a sacrifice fly to right.
But the Terps were far from done. Batting third, shortstop Lindsey Schmeiser smacked a liner to left that pierced the wind that was blowing from left to right for her fourth home run of the season. Freshman Kylie Datil followed Candice Beards' infield single with a two run bomb of her own giving Kaitlyn Schmeiser a four run cushion.
The visitors scratched out an unearned run in the top of the second and had the bases loaded with one out but Schmeiser got out of the inning with a key strikeout before inducing an inning ending tapper to short. Delaware State inched closer in the top of the fourth. After sandwiching two singles around a strikeout, Kaitlyn Schmeiser induced the second out of the inning on a pop to shallow center but her sister Lindsey and second baseman Juli Strange collided on the play. The younger Schmeiser left the field with an apparent knee injury and coach Laura Watten had no update on the sophomore's status. The next batter singled to center bringing home the Hornets' second run of the game but they did no further damage.
Putting the game on ice
In the bottom of the fourth, the Terps put together another four run inning. Strange got things started with a single to right and, after a failed sacrifice bunt attempt, freshman Erin Pronobis pulled a no doubt about it shot to right for the second home run of her rookie campaign. The third run of the inning came on McCann's "little league" homer. The ball was actually a soft liner down the left field line and, when McCann aggressively tried to stretch the hit into a double, Hornets' left fielder Nicole Gazzola's throw got past the second baseman and rolled into foul territory down the right field line. McCann was able to come all the way around to score. A Bustillos single followed by a double by Madison Martin and a sacrifice fly off the bat of Beards finished the Terps' scoring for the inning.
With the temperature dropping, the game came to a mercifully quick close when the Terrapins scored two runs in the bottom of the fifth. Jessica Warner opened the inning with a walk and pinch runner Sarah Calta stole second. Strange singled to center driving home Calta and advancing to third herself on an error by the Hornets' centerfielder. The game ending run scored on Corey Schwartz's bunt single.
Likely the biggest takeaway from the two game winning streak is the pitching of Kaitlyn Schmeiser. KK, as she is called, has given up only three earned runs over her last seven innings pitching to a 2.25 ERA. "We count on KK to be our ace," Watten said. "She's got to keep her confidence level up and stay strong and keep remembering how effective she can be." Schmeiser's next test will come Saturday when the Virginia Tech Hokies come to College Park in Maryland's penultimate ACC series.