Maryland softball had another losing weekend at the Highlander Classic in Riverside, Calif. The Terps went 1-3 and their record dropped to 4-18-1. The pitching staff was unable to replicate the consistency its had over the past couple of weekends. Both Hannah Dewey and Madison Martin struggled with walks, and the fielding issues continued for the defense.
Friday Morning: UT Martin 8, Maryland 2
The game fell apart for Maryland in the bottom of second inning. Martin started the second inning with a leadoff walk. It was the second straight inning the Skyhawks allowed the leadoff hitter to get on base. A sacrifice bunt gave the Skyhawks a runner at second with one out. The run came around to score after an error at second base. Maryland hurt themselves again by allowing another unearned run due to an error at short. The Terps had a difficult second inning allowing two unearned runs on zero hits, two walks and two errors.
After the Terps fell behind in the second, they were never able to catch up. They had three hits in the first inning, but they only had four over the rest of the game. The game was put out of reach in the fourth inning. UT Martin added four more runs to extend the lead to 6-2. Again, the Skyhawks were able to score runs by getting on base from errors by the Terps. The Skyhawks only had one hit in the fourth but Maryland helped contribute to the big inning with two errors. Maryland finished with five errors in the game, which led to four unearned runs.
Friday Afternoon: Iona 8, Maryland 4
The Terps started their second game Friday with Hannah Dewey in the circle. In the first inning, she gave up a two-run home run by Kristen Turner. Iona started the second inning with a leadoff walk and got another baserunner when Hailey Thompson was hit by a pitch. Dewey was removed from the game after she gave up back to back RBI singles up the middle that scored another run. Dewey pitched 1.1 innings and was charged with five earned runs including the runners she left on base. Lauren Graves walked her first batter of the game, then gave up a two-run single. Iona got three more runs on two hits and a sac fly.
Despite being put in a large hole, the Terps did not go down quietly. The Terps chipped away at the lead by scoring in the third and fourth innings. In the third, Kufta drew a walk with the bases loaded for a run. In the fourth inning, Brashear hit a sacrifice fly that scored the final run of the inning.
Down 8-2, Maryland had a rally in the top of the seventh inning. Ellazar was able to score Kufta on a double. The Terps scored their second run of the inning when Dillard hit another double to left center. The back to back doubles forced a pitching change. Kassidy Kross was able to get a walk off of Jessica Harkness, but the Terps went down in order after the walk dropping their record to 3-17-1.
Saturday Afternoon: Maryland 6, UC Riverside 3
Maryland picked up its first win of the tournament on Saturday, the team’s fourth of the season. Martin got the start in the circle and was able to hold the Highlanders in check for five innings. She allowed all three of UC Riverside’s runs, two of which were earned, in the sixth. Dewey closed the game for the Terps with a scoreless seventh inning for her first save of the season.
The Terps had another productive top of the first inning. Maryland had runners at second and third with one out. Destiney Henderson was hit by a pitch and Kufta hit a double to right field. Dillard drove in both runners with a double down the left field line with two outs. Dillard now leads the team with 10 RBI.
The Terps extended their lead when they scored three runs in the top of the third inning. With one out, Juli Strange hit a single to left that loaded the bases. A bases-loaded walk by Kross put Maryland on the scoreboard. Martin drove in the second run of the inning on a sacrifice fly that scored Dillard. Brashear drove in the third run of the inning on a single. The Terps added another run in the fifth inning when Martin drove in Cross on a single.
Sunday Morning: Weber State 6, Maryland 2
Maryland fell behind to Weber State in the second inning. With Dewey in the circle, Sydney White reached on a single with two outs. She then stole second and came around to score on a triple by Takesha Saltern. Weber State added three more runs in the third inning when KyRae Kogianes hit a three-run home run with two outs. After another hit, Martin was brought in to replace Dewey in the circle. Dewey pitched 2.2 innings, allowing four runs along with and three walks and six hits.
Martin allowed two runs in the fifth inning, but the Terps managed to get on the scoreboard in the sixth inning. Brashear hit a leadoff single in hopes of starting a rally. Henderson bunted her over to second in to put a runner in scoring position for the middle of the lineup. With two outs, Dillard hit a ball to left field and Brashear scored on the error.
The Terps didn’t go down quietly in the seventh. Strange hit a leadoff double and was driven in by pinch hitter Brigette Nordberg.
Scoring early may be key to success
The Terps offense responded after being shut out four times in the past two weekends. Not only did they score this weekend, but they scored early. While Maryland eventually collapsed Friday morning, the team scored two runs in the top of the first inning. Scoring early gives the team a better chance to win. The Terps scored two runs in the first again on Saturday and were able to hold onto the lead. The early lead takes pressure off the pitching staff and allowed Martin to pitch five scoreless frames before allowing three runs in the sixth. The three runs did not hurt the Terps as they managed to score more runs later in the ball game that extended the lead. By scoring early, Terps have more room for error if they continue to have defensive issues.
In the Circle
The pitching staff struggled on Friday when the Terps gave up eight runs in both games. While errors have hurt the pitching staff all season, this weekend the staff had issues with walks, especially to start innings. The game against UT Martin was filled with mistakes as the Terps had six walks and five errors. Even though the Terps won Saturday, they walked five batters and the defense made three errors. With that many chances given to opponents, it will be difficult for the Terps to win.
The Terps finally return for their home opener next weekend. At the Maryland Invitational they play Buffalo and Binghamton twice and James Madison.