Maryland softball dropped all three games this weekend to Indiana as its record fell to 9-33-1 (2-13 Big Ten). Pitching dominated the series as the teams combined to score only 11 runs over the weekend. Madison Martin pitched 14 innings between her two starts and gave up just four runs, but she picked up two losses over the weekend due to a lack of run support.
Maryland had its schedule shifted last week due to weather. The doubleheader on Wednesday at Rutgers was moved to this upcoming Wednesday, and Saturday’s game against Indiana was moved to this Friday.
Friday afternoon: Indiana 2, Maryland 1
In the first game of the series, Madison Martin found herself in a pitching duel against Tara Trainer. Martin held the Hoosiers hitless until the third inning and scoreless until the fifth inning. Taylor Uden scored on a wild pitch for the first run of the game.
Despite recording six walks, the Terps could not seem to grab any momentum on offense until the seventh inning. Down a run in the seventh, Maryland tied the score when Sarah Calta drove in Kassidy Kross on an RBI double. Trainer managed to get out of the jam with the bases loaded to pitch a complete game.
An error at first put the Hoosiers in position to win the game in the bottom of the seventh. The error put runners at second and third with one out. Indiana just needed to put the ball in play to score the winning run and Bella Norton delivered, with a sacrifice fly to center that scored Uden.
Friday evening: Indiana 5, Maryland 0
The second game of the doubleheader was not quite the nail-biter the opening game was. The Hoosiers seemed to land the knockout punch in the first inning when Uden hit her fourth home run of the season against Hannah Dewey.
Indiana added three more runs before Dewey was pulled after the fifth inning. Lauren Graves pitched the sixth inning and had one of her best performances of the season. She pitched a scoreless inning and recorded a strikeout, while managing to walk only one batter. Walks had been an issue for Graves as she walked 27 batters in 14.1 innings prior to Saturday's appearance.
The offense recorded nine hits against Emily Kirk, but was unable to score any runs. The Terps had a chance to overcome the three-run deficit in the second inning, when Maryland loaded the bases with one out but failed to score any runs.
Sunday afternoon: Indiana 2, Maryland 1 (8 innings)
The Terps fell behind early again in the third game of the series. Uden picked up another RBI in the first when she drove in Gabbi Jenkins from second. Indiana loaded the bases in the inning, but Martin was able to hold the Hoosiers to one run.
Maryland quickly responded in the second inning when Anna Kufta scored on a passed ball. Kufta led off the inning with a single and advanced to second on a sacrifice bunt before advancing on two wild pitches. The Terps failed to record another hit in the inning.
The game settled into a pitching duel between Martin and Trainer. Both pitchers prevented any type of rally until Indiana loaded the bases in the sixth inning. However, Martin forced Rebecca Blitz to pop out to end the inning. Martin also ran into trouble in the seventh when the Hoosiers had the winning run reach second base, but she was able to force extra innings.
Maryland’s best opportunity to score before extra innings was in the fifth, but the Terps stranded Brigette Nordberg at third.
Martin almost had an opportunity to win the game herself at the plate in the eighth after she had already pitched seven innings, allowing only one run. She batted with runners at first and second with two outs, but struck out to end the inning.
The Hoosiers picked up their second walk-off win of the weekend Sunday on Blitz’s RBI single. Once again, an error late in the game hurt the Terps and allowed a runner to reach. What should have been a forceout became an error at third and put runners at first and second before they advanced on a sacrifice bunt. Blitz was the next batter and drove the winning run home on a single to left and completed the sweep of the Terps.
Maryland’s bats keep slumping
The Terps only scored one run Friday and two runs over the course of the entire weekend, the second straight weekend the offense has struggled. It was not a surprise that they would struggle last weekend considering No. 19 Michigan has two of the best pitchers in the conference. However, it was expected that the offense would show improvement against Indiana.
The Terps had 17 hits on the weekend, but could not convert them into runs.
On Friday, Julie Wright moved Sarah Calta up to second in the lineup. The senior responded going 4-6 in the doubleheader while driving in Maryland’s only run. After her strong performance Friday, Calta lead off for the Terps Sunday and had another hit.
Maryland’s offense failed to come through when Martin gave her team chances to win. The offense needs to reward the pitchers when they excel in the circle.
Maryland’s chances of making the Big Ten tournament remain slim heading into the final stretch of the season. The Terps face two opponents next week as they travel to Rutgers (12-31, 3-12 Big Ten) for a doubleheader Wednesday and return home Friday for a three game series against Penn State (20-26, 6-11 Big Ten).
This may be one of the most important weeks for the Terps this season. If they can sweep Rutgers, the Terps would only be two games back of 12th place in the Big Ten. The top 12 teams in the conference get into the tournament, which has a single-elimination format. If the Terps can get there, they’ve shown they can beat a ranked opponent.