Softball experiences wrong kind of record setting season

A rare sunny moment for Terps softball - S. McCann

For everyone associated with Maryland softball, 2014 is a season best forgotten and forgotten quickly. This could be a very short story: Bad start. Bad weather. Bad season. Masochists read on.

These are the joys of covering non-revenue sports for the University of Maryland: When I wrote the recap of the four sports I cover for the fall season, I  wrote about one Final Four (field hockey) and one national championship game appearance (men's soccer). Three winter sports added an NCAA Tournament appearance (gymnastics), the first Maryland wrestler to achieve a number one ranking and the first Terrapin to reach a national final in 45 years (Jimmy Sheptock), and another Final Four (women's basketball).

Now it's time to look back, one at a time, at four spring sports: We have a Final Four (men's lacrosse), a first time Super Regional appearance (baseball), and a National Championship (women's lacrosse). In eleven sports that's three Final Fours, one national title game, and a national championship. Toss in a wrestler in his individual national final, a sixth straight NCAA tourney for gymnastics, and the equivalent of a first ever Sweet Sixteen for baseball and one could say it's been a pretty good year.

Under visionary leadership from Pete Volk and Dave Tucker (no disrespect to Ben Broman), I had some terrific and nearly indispensable writing and analysis help from Andrew Kramer on baseball and Jake Nazar on men's lacrosse. When all of this combines to make Testudo Times the place to go for coverage of the non-rev (as we call them) sports, the year becomes that much better. For those of you who missed it, you can read Andrew's recap of the Terps' historic baseball season here or my somewhat more sentimental take on their journey to the Super Regional here.

Of course, one can not know joy unless one experiences sorrow. Thus, every rose bush must have its thorns and this spring the thorn and the sorrow came in the form of Maryland's softball team.

After seeing Maryland softball make three straight NCAA Tournaments before falling short in 2013, those of us who recalled nearly drowning under the 6-14 start last season were cut like a razor and left to bleed when the Terps lost nineteen of their first twenty games this year. The 2013 Terps bounced back to win 11 of the next 13 including a sweep of Virginia and a win over Florida State sowing a seed of hope. Perhaps too tender, the 2014 softball Terps failed to flower and left their fans with an endless, aching need only wins could fill.

More than the weather

Weather issues that caused the cancellation of eleven games in March may have played a role in Maryland's inability to build a recovery in 2014 similar to the push they made in 2013. The early string of cancelled games included a doubleheader with Delaware State and a weekend tournament that would have featured Princeton, Hartford, and Mount St. Mary's. The Terps also lost a scheduled mid-week doubleheader at Virginia and a home series against NC State. Many of these were winnable games that might have altered the state of the team but by the end of that month, the Terps' record sat at 2-24 and the season was effectively over. Chances weren't taken and with the dream of the dance gone, the Terps essentially slept through the rest of the season.

Maryland mustered only seven ACC wins. Three of those came in College Park in a meaningless series when the Terps swept Pitt on the last weekend of the season.  Of Maryland's five other home wins, one came in a makeup game against Delaware State a team with an RPI of 157 and two others came at the expense of Howard whose RPI was 288 of the 293 Division I softball teams.

The season was a lonely night on a long road. The Terps won one neutral site and two road games finishing the season by winning fewer games (11) and losing more games (35) than any softball squad in Maryland's history.

But there's a seed beneath these bitter winter snows and for the rest of my spring sports recaps, I'll be writing under the pseudonym Pharrell.

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