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Maryland softball getting closer to home, wins two in Harrisonburg

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Maryland's softball team continued to find ways to win games under the leadership of first year coach Courtney Deifel. Two cancelled games didn't prevent the Terps from picking up two wins in James Madison's weekend Tournament.

After having a Saturday doubleheader cancelled in Florida on the last weekend in February and being stranded in the Sunshine State until Tuesday night because of weather problems in College Park, the Maryland softball squad picked up an extra midweek game at 17th ranked University of Central Florida. The Terps homered twice in building a 6-5 lead over the Knights into the bottom of the seventh but a fielding error opened the door for a three run walkoff home run and the Terps fell 8-6.

They got back into action over the weekend with a single game Saturday afternoon and a Sunday doubleheader in the JMU Invitational.

Saturday - Let's play one! - Well, mostly one.

Weather problems continued to dog the Terps as a scheduled Friday doubleheader at James Madison also fell into the cancellation bin. Maryland finally returned to the field to take on the Rhode Island Rams Saturday afternoon. The Terrapins bats exploded as they put up 18 runs in an 18-3 run rule rout of the Rams.

The Terrapins put up five in the first, four in the second, three in the third and six in the fifth. Wild pitching by Rhode Island contributed to the Terps first inning outburst as Maryland scored five runs on just three hits. A pair of two run singles, first by Bridget Hawvermale and later by Shannon Bustillos highlighted the inning.

Lack of control on the mound continued to plague the Rams. The Terps scored four times in the top of the second without benefit of a hit. Four walks and a Rhode Island error aided the run scoring party.

More walks - to Hannah Dewey and Corey Schwartz - opened the Maryland third. One swing from the bat of Erin Pronobis cleared the bases and put the Terps up 12-0.

Hawvermale again provided the highlight in Maryland's six run fourth when she yanked a grand slam over the fence in left. It was, officially, the first home run of the senior's career.

Kaitlyn Schmeiser started the game and was credited with the win, her tenth of the season, after throwing two scoreless innings. Jaymi Bautista-Geiger made her second appearance and added two scoreless innings of her own. Sophomore Brenna Nation, coming off an elbow injury mopped up and expectedly showed a bit of rust as she surrendered three meaningless runs in her one inning of work. The win improved Maryland's record to 13-8 on the season.

Sunday doubleheader

Just enough blood from a Stony Brook

Maryland once again played the role of visitors as they faced the Stony Brook Seawolves in the first of two games scheduled for Sunday afternoon. The game played quite differently from Friday's as Stony Brook's Jane Sallen, described by a source as a lefthander with a herky jerky motion and a good change-up,  silenced the Terrapins bats particularly in key situations early in the game.

The Terps got on the board early with a two out first inning rally that started with a single to right by Corey Schwartz. Erin Pronobis doubled to left center and Schwartz scored from first. Walks to Mandy Gardner and Bridget Hawvermale loaded the bases but Juli Strange ground out to first leaving the bases jammed.

Maryland failed to take full advantage of a golden opportunity in the second when they loaded the bases with none out as Shannon Bustillos and Lindsey Schmeiser sandwiched a pair of singles around Kylie Datil reaching on a soft grounder when Bustillos beat the throw to second. Hannah Dewey walked to pick up an RBI and put the Terps up 2-0 with the bases still full but the middle of Maryland's lineup could do no further damage and Sallen escaped trailing only 2-0.

The Terps got a two out single in the third but didn't threaten again until the top of the seventh when Schmeiser got as far as third base with two outs after reaching on an error leading off the inning. She advanced no further becoming the eighth Terrapins runner left on base.

Fortunately for Maryland, the senior Schmeiser, Kaitlyn, was in the circle and was even more effective at shutting down Stony Brook's offense than Sallen was against the Terps. The Seawolves lone run came in the bottom of the third on a solo home run off the bat of Kim Ragazzo.

In the bottom of the seventh, it looked as though all the runners Maryland had left on base early in the game could come back to haunt them. The Seawolves had runners on first and second with two out courtesy of a single and a base on balls when Ragazzo singled up the middle. Hannah Dewey uncorked a perfect throw from center, however, to nail the runner at the plate and lock up Maryland's 14th win of the season - a 2-1 nail biter over Stony Brook.

Game 2 - JMU puts up their Dukes

The Terps went into the final game looking for their first weekend sweep of the season. Their opponent, the home standing James Madison Dukes, had received votes in the latest softball coaches poll, had dropped their earlier game to Stony Brook as the Seawolves rallied late for a 6-4 win. The Terps also fell behind early and rallied but fell short as JMU came away with a 10-5 win.

The home team made an early statement by putting four runs on the board in their first at bat. JMU's first four batters all reached base against Maryland starter Hannah Dewey on two singles, a double and a walk. A Terrapins error and two more singles added to the damage before Dewey recorded the final out.

Maryland got on the board in the top of the second on Mandy Gardner's solo home run to left center. The blast was the fifth of the season for the senior. After Jaymi Bautista-Geiger, pitching in relief of Dewey,  retired the side in order in the second, the Dukes expanded their lead in the bottom of the third on a three run homer by designated player Alyssa Buddle.

Trailing 7-1 entering the fifth, the Terps rallied with a four run inning of their own. A pair of one out singles set the plate for Lindsey Schmeiser's two RBI double. Dewey backed that up with a home run to left and the Terrapins were within two. After Corey Schwartz was retired on a ground out to short, Erin Pronobis and Gardner drew back to back walks bringing the possible go ahead run to the plate. However, Bridget Hawvermale, a hitting star earlier in the weekend, struck out to end the threat.

Facing the third Maryland pitcher of the day, Brenna Nation, the Dukes put the game on ice answering with  three runs in the bottom half of the inning. All the damage came after Nation had retired the first two batters and was stoked by two walks and a Maryland error setting  the final 10-5 margin. The Terps fell to 14-9 on the season while the Dukes improved to 10-6.

Maryland will play the last of 24 consecutive season opening road games Friday afternoon at George Washington. They will then finally get to play in front of their home fans when they host the Lafayette Leopards for a Saturday doubleheader scheduled to start at 11:00 am before hosting Princeton for a single game at 12:15 Sunday afternoon