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Maryland softball splits twin bill with Dartmouth

The Terps dug themselves out of a deep hole in Wednesday's first game with Dartmouth and almost repeated the feat from a deeper hole in the second but still came away with a doubleheader split with the Big Green.

The Maryland Terrapins softball team hosted  the Dartmouth Big Green in a mid week doubleheader Wednesday evening in a pair of games between their first two Big Ten Conference series. The Terps split the pair with the Big Green winning the first 18-8 before falling in the second 8-5.

Game One - And the bats go BOOM!

Maryland's ace Kaitlyn 'KK' Schmeiser wasn't sharp to open the game as Dartmouth jumped out to a three run lead in the top of the first. Dartmouth put together back to back singles and, after recording the first out on a fly ball to center, Big Green catcher Karen Chaw lifted a three tun homer over the Under Armour logo in left field.

The Terps got two back in their half of the second when Juli Strange drew a two out walk and Kylie Datil drove a mammoth blast to left that cleared Paint Branch drive and landed in lot 4j. However, KK gave the two runs back in Dartmouth's next at bat. Starting pitcher Kristen Rumley helped her own cause with a two RBI line drive double to the fence in left center that followed a single and a walk.

Dartmouth added to their lead with a single run in the top of the fourth. Then, in the bottom of the fourth Dartmouth saw their 6-2 lead evaporate and transform into a 10-6 deficit as the Terrapins exploded for eight runs in the bottom of the fourth.

KK led off with a line drive single to right and Mandy Gardner followed with  Maryland second home run of the day going the opposite way over the fence in right center. When Strange followed with a single up the middle, it ended Rumley's day in the circle.

Breanna Ethridge fared even worse in relief for Dartmouth. Datil sacrificed Strange to second and Lindsey Schmeiser walked. Hannah Dewey hit a twisting low bloop that fell between the third baseman and the shortstop loading the bases. Strange scored on a wild pitch and the force was with Corey Schwartz who cleared the bases on a long fly that went nearly as far as Datil's second inning blast.

But the Terps still weren't done. With two out, Shannon Bustillos was hit by a pitch. KK followed with a bloop single to left and Gardner notched her third and fourth RBI of the inning with a double over the bag at third. That finally ended Maryland's scoring.

Dewey came in from center in relief of Schmeiser and recorded a scoreless top of the fifth. Maryland extended the lead in the fifth starting with Datil's second homer of the day leading off the inning. The Terps loaded the bases on three straight one out walks and Dewey scored on Bustillos' sacrifice fly. However, though they had two on and two out, it wasn't in the fifth that Maryland pushed enough runs across to secure a run rule win.

The possibility of the run rule win appeared to grow dimmer in the top of the sixth when Dartmouth scored two runs only one of which was earned. But that small outburst wasn't enough to slow the Terrapins.

Gardner got the inning started with a single to the fence in right center. Sarah Calta, running for Gardner, stole second and heard the "Calta" arms when she scored on Lindsey Schmeiser's single to left. The Terps put two more on the board on Schwartz's single to third and throwing error on the play. Bustillos ended the game on Maryland's fifth homer of the day a three run line shot to straightaway center. From 6-2 down, the Terps had an 18-8 run rule win.

Game two - And the stone rolled back down the hill

Sisyphus is a character from Greek mythology who was condemned to an eternity in which he had to roll a boulder up a hill only to watch it roll back to the bottom whereupon he had to start the task anew. This analogy is, in some ways imperfect, as analogies frequently are.

However, in the early innings of four of their last five games, Maryland's softball team has fallen behind by four or more runs. They have managed to push enough runs over the crest of the hill to achieve comebacks in two of those games but have fallen short in the other two including the second game of Wednesday's doubleheader against Dartmouth. So, while the neither the task nor the outcome have been purely Sisyphean, it is likely to become more so unless they find a way to break the pattern.

Catcher Shannon Bustillos said after the game, "We need to make more adjustments in at bats. Pitch to pitch and batter to batter." Added Kylie Datil, "Typcally, everyone goes through once and you get feel for the pitcher. As a team we need to focus on taking the first batter and learning from her at bat."

After two scoreless innings for both squads, Dartmouth reached second game starter Brenna Nation for five runs in an inning that started with a pitcher's worst enemy - the lead off walk. Dartmouth followed that with a pair of singles to load the bases with none out. After a line out to left, Morgan McCalmon drove a single to left that put the first two Big Green runs on the board. An error by shortstop Kylie Datil - the second of four Terrapins miscues in the game opened the door for three more Dartmouth runs which were all unearned.

The Terps clawed even in the home half of the fourth inning. Erin Pronobis opened the inning with a double lined to the fence in left center. McCalmon retired the next two batters but walked Mandy Gardner. With two on and two down, the Terps were the beneficiaries of a truly Strange play.

Terrapins third baseman Juli Strange lifter what is best described as a big league pop up to very shallow left. Dartmouth third baseman Kelsey Miller retreated two or three steps onto the outfield grass and appeared to be camped under the ball. However, she misjudged the landing spot and the ball fell to the turf several feet to her left. Pronobis scored and Gardner wisely stopped at second.

Datil, making up for her earlier miscue, smacked her third home run of the night over the wall in left and when Lindsey Schmeiser also lifted a ball that barely cleared the fence in left, the Terps had come all the way back. At the end of four innings, the score was tied at five.

Hannah Dewey, making her second relief appearance of the night, pitched a scoreless fourth and fifth for Maryland escaping a two on none out jam in the fifth. She was not so fortunate in the sixth. She gave up a lead off double to start the inning but struck out the next two batters. She seemed to be on the verge of escaping once again when Dartmouth catcher Karen Chaw punched a line drive to right.

However, right fielder Bridget Hawvermale misread the ball and took a step in before retreating toward the fence. She misplayed the ball for a two base error allowing a run to score. Chaw came around on McCalmon's double over Schmeiser's head in center. Tiffany Dyson led off the Big Green's seventh with a home run to lead off the seventh and put Dartmouth ahead 8-5.

Meanwhile, McCalmon settled down in the circle. She cruised through the final three innings giving up just two singles and seeing a third runner reach on Dartmouth's lone error of the game. She retired the side in order inthe bottom of the seventh to seal the win.

Talking about the doubleheader and the early deficits, Maryland coach Courtney Deifel said, "We're just giving way too much away. We did it a little bit in the first game. It was nice our bats came through but you can't expect to come through that much all the time. We keep making simple mistakes and we have to find a way to clean it up."

Maryland now stands at 20-13 on the season. The Terps are off tomorrow and have their next opportunity to clean things up when they open a three game series with the Ohio State Buckeyes in their first Big Ten home series scheduled to get underway at 6:00 pm Friday evening.