Maryland softball had a long weekend at the Missouri Tournament, going 1-4. Aside from a blowout loss to No. 4 Oregon, Maryland was competitive in all of their games. Maryland played close games and beat their second ranked opponent of the season. The offense was quiet, with just 15 runs over the five games. The pitching staff was able to keep the Terps in games except for a couple of disastrous innings against Oregon and Missouri.
Friday Morning: Butler 3, Maryland 2
The Terps kicked off the Missouri Tournament against Butler. Hannah Dewey got the start for the Terps and pitched five innings. Her record dropped to 1-4 on the season even though she gave up only three runs. Dewey had the Terps in position to win their first game of the tournament as she held Butler scoreless through the first five innings of the game.
Destiney Henderson started the fifth inning for the Terps with a walk with the score tied at zero. The lead off walk forced a pitching change for Butler. Kacey Starwalt was replaced by Mikeila Boroff. Amanda Brashear moved Henderson to second after she grounded out to the pitcher. Skylynne Ellazar put the Terps on the board when she hit a RBI triple to center that scored Henderson. Anna Kufta took advantage of the runner in scoring position by hitting a sacrifice fly to center extending the lead to 2-0.
Dewey was able to shut down Butler in the bottom of the fifth after giving up a leadoff single. She got herself into more trouble in the bottom of the sixth when she gave up two straight singles to start the inning. Dewey was replaced by Madison Martin after Brandyce Sallee hit a double in the right-center gap that scored both runners and tied the score at 2-2. Martin quickly got the first out of the inning as she got Madi Christiansen to pop out to the catcher. However, she was unable to keep the game tied. Kaitlin Doud drove in the leading run on a single. Boroff was able to keep the Terps scoreless in the seventh as she earned her first win of the season.
Friday Evening: Oregon 14, Maryland 0 (5 innings)
Before Friday, Maryland had played well against ranked teams this year. Not only did they have the highlight of the season with a win over No. 1 Florida, but they also went into extra innings against then-No. 16 Minnesota in the season opener. Friday was a different story.
Martin started the game in the circle and struggled. Despite entering the game with a team low ERA, she only managed to pitch two innings and surrendered four runs, three of them earned. Dewey gave up three earned runs in an inning of relief. After the two key pitchers had struggled, Wright decided to try something different and brought in Lauren Graves. In a third of an inning, Oregon scored five earned runs against her. Wright was forced to make another change with the game already out of hand. Ari Jarvis pitched the final 1.2 innings of the game and gave up two runs, making the final score 14-0.
The Maryland bats were quiet against Miranda Eilsh and only recorded two hits and three walks. The Terps were overmatched this game on offense and defense.
Saturday Evening: Stephen F. Austin 5, Maryland 4
Maryland opened the game scoring two runs in the top of the first inning. Brashear opened the game with a lead off walk and Ellazar moved her to second with a bunt single. The Terps continued to play small ball when Kufta grounded out to second and moved the runners to second and third. Kristina Dillard drove in the first run when she hit a ground ball to second base scoring Brashear. With two outs, Martin hit an RBI single making the score 2-0. The Terps added another run in the second when Brashear drove in Kassidy Kross who reached on a bunt. The final run for the Terps was scored on a single by Henderson that scored Juli Strange.
The Terps entered the seventh inning leading 4-1. Martin was still in the game and attempting to pitch a complete game. Stephen F. Austin opened the inning with a double by Britt Lewis, and with one out Kiriany Hornberger drove Lewis in with a double to center. Wright decided to make a change after Martin walked the next batter. Jarvis entered the game with runners on first and second with one out. Jarvis was unable to limit the damage as she made an error that allowed a run to score and runners to move over to second and third. The tying run was at third and the winning run was at second for Stephen F. Austin. The Terps decided to load the bases with an intentional walk in an attempt to make a force play at home plate or try for a double play. Jarvis got a flyout for the second out of the inning, but she walked in the tying run. The winning run was scored by Stephen F. Austin when Madison Clements was hit by a pitch.
Saturday Evening: Missouri 2, Maryland 0
The Terps played their second ranked opponent of the tournament on Saturday. Missouri entered the game No. 25 with an 8-6 record.
Hannah Dewey started the game in the circle and was in a pitching duel with Madi Norman. The game was scoreless until the bottom of the fourth inning. The Tigers managed to get on the scoreboard after an error at short allowed a runner to score from third. The error hurt because there were two outs and the Terps should have been out of the inning. The Tigers scored their second run of the game from a RBI single from Kolby Romaine. Dewey pitched six innings and gave up both runs.
Sunday Afternoon: Maryland 9, Missouri 8 (9 innings)
The Terps scored the first run of the game in the top of the fifth inning. Strange hit a single with one out and moved up all the way to third after a throwing error by the catcher on a pickoff attempt. Kassidy Kross drove her in with a sacrifice fly to right field. Missouri challenged that Strange left early but was unsuccessful. Maryland had two more hits in the inning but was unable to add any more runs in the fifth.
Martin pitched a scoreless five innings for the Terps before running into trouble in the sixth. After a leadoff double, Martin began to unravel and Missouri had the bases loaded with zero outs. Paige Bange hit an RBI single up the middle to give the Tigers their first run of the ballgame. Dewey entered the game and gave up two sacrifice flies and the Terps fell behind 2-1. The game fell apart after Natalie Fleming hit a 3-run home run over the left field wall. The Tigers ended up scoring seven runs in the sixth inning.
The Terps began to rally in the seventh. They were gifted two runs on a wild pitch and an error. Dillard cut the lead to 7-5 after her double that drove in two runs. Martin cut the lead to one when she drove in Dillard. The Terps tied the game at 7-7 with Strange hitting an RBI single to right.
Martin re-entered the game in the seventh and held the Tigers scoreless.
In extras, Maryland attempted to move the runner placed on second to third with a sacrifice bunt, and the batter was ruled safe at first after an illegal substitution. With the leading run at third, Missouri moved one of their outfielders to the infield. The five-player infield worked and moved to the traditional formation after getting an out. Maryland took the lead after a sacrifice fly by Ellazar.
Missouri also opened their half with a sacrifice bunt, moving the placed runner to third with one out. Martin was unable to get the final out as Rylee Pierce hit a single up the middle that scored the tying run. Pierce was able to move up to second on a stolen base but never scored.
Maryland for the second straight inning had their leadoff hitter bunt to move the runner to third. Cross put Terps in the lead with a RBI single.
Missouri had a rough bottom half of the ninth. The Tigers had two quick outs after a popped-up bunt and Dillard threw out the runner at third. Martin got the final out of the game on a fly out to center.
Offense shut out twice for second straight weekend
The offense is struggling despite the fact that three hitters are batting over .300. Amanda Brashear is leading the team hitting .333 but that is far lower than Ellazar’s .399 mark last year. The team is also not driving in runs. Anna Kufta has the only three home runs and leads the team with seven RBI. If Maryland wants to become a true competitor in the Big Ten, then they have to start putting up big power numbers.
State of the Circle
Wright has been relying heavily on Dewey and Martin to keep the Terps in games. If either of those two struggle, the games tend to get ugly. Wright has and should rely heavily on the two starters, but the loss to No. 4 Oregon shows that she has to keep a long-term view of the program. The Terps are 3-15-1 this season and they have yet to prove they can go on a sustainable winning streak. It is important for Wright to depend on the two starters but it is also crucial to remember that Martin is a redshirt senior and Dewey is a senior. The future in the circle depends on the arms of Graves and Jarvis, who are both underclassmen. Wright needs to find ways to get those two quality innings but also not leave them vulnerable to big innings that can shake their confidence long-term.
Oregon was a good example of the two getting an opportunity against a top-tier opponent. Graves struggled, but Jarvis managed to finish the shortened game for them. While she surrendered the lead, the loss against Stephen F. Austin gave Jarvis a chance to close a competitive game. Maryland should always try to win as many games as possible, but with their current record they also have to look in the mirror and be honest with themselves.
Next weekend is the final tournament before the Terps return home for the Maryland Invitational. They travel to Riverside, California to play in the Highlander Classic. In the tournament they will play UT Martin, Iona, UC Riverside, and Weber State.