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Maryland softball goes 1-4 in season-opening tournament at UCLA

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The Terps dropped their first four games before earning a win at the Stacy Winsberg Memorial Tournament.

Julie Wright Maryland softball Photo by Maryland Athletics

Maryland opened their season on the West Coast Friday in the Stacy Winsberg Memorial Tournament. The team played in five games, dropping the first four before picking up its first win of the season on Sunday.

Friday game one: Cal Poly 4, Maryland 3

Despite scoring the first three runs of their season opener, the Terps couldn’t hold on and lost by a run.

Maryland’s season got off to a fast start in the top of the first, when Skylynne Ellazar hit a home run to put Maryland up 1-0. The scoring didn’t stop there either, as the Terps added two more runs in the second inning courtesy of a JoJo McRae single and a groundout from Kassidy Cross to make the score 3-0.

Ryan Denhart got the start at the mound, making her collegiate debut. She held Cal Poly scoreless in the first two innings, but let Cal Poly draw even with a 3-run third inning. Denhart pitched four innings, giving up just those three runs before she was relieved by another newcomer to the team this year, Sydney Golden. The Cal State Fullerton transfer let in an unearned run in the bottom of the fifth to give Cal Poly a 4-3, which held until the end of the game.

Friday game two: No. 4 UCLA 5, Maryland 1

Golden picked up where she left off in the previous game and started against UCLA. But, she didn’t get off to a great start, giving up four runs in the first two innings. Golden was eventually relieved by Sami Main after two innings, and the junior allowed one run in the third before pitching two scoreless frames. Lauren Graves also pitched in an inning as well, but didn’t give up any runs.

The Terps didn’t get much help from their offense, as the team ended up leaving seven runners in scoring position over the course of the game. Despite out-hitting UCLA 5-4, Maryland was only able to get one run across the plate with a double from Bailey Boyd in the fourth inning.

Saturday game one: UC Riverside 5, Maryland 0

Maryland’s offensive cold streak continued on Saturday, as the Terps were shut out in their third loss of the weekend.

Maryland’s offense still couldn’t get anything going on Saturday, this time only mustering one hit against off UC Riverside’s Taylor Misfeldt. Ellazar had the only hit of the day—a leadoff single in the fourth—with Bridgette Nordberg and Kassidy Cross each pitching in walks.

Sloppy play extended beyond the struggle at the plate, as Maryland committed three errors in the field over the course of the game, two of which were committed by freshman shortstop Mikayla Werahiko.

Denhart got the nod on the mound for the Terps, pitching five innings. Her only misstep was in the second, when UC Riverside scored on an RBI triple and a two-run homer with two outs. Main and Graves each pitched an inning in relief, with neither letting in any runs.

Saturday game two: Cal Poly 4, Maryland 3 (8 innings)

Despite Ellazar playing her best game of the season, Maryland fell just short of the finish line in extra innings.

Ellazar was a perfect 4-for-4 at the plate, bringing in an RBI to boot. The rest of the team chipped in six hits as well, bringing Maryland to double-digit hits for the first time this year. However, the 10 hits only amounted to three runs, which ended up not being enough to match Cal Poly.

Golden and Denhart split the game evenly, each pitching four innings and letting in two runs.

Maryland was in prime position to end the game in regulation, as the score was tied in the bottom of the seventh and the Terps had runners on second and third base with two outs, but couldn’t get the game-sealing run across as catcher Anna Kufta struck out swinging.

Cal Poly added a run in the top of the eighth, as a single up the middle scored the runner placed on second to start the extra frame. Maryland couldn’t respond and lost its fourth consecutive game to start the season.

Sunday: Maryland 2, Middle Tennessee 1

After gaining leads and losing them earlier in the weekend, the Terps came back from a deficit to pick up their first win of the season.

Head coach Julie Wright decided to give Main, who had only pitched in relief previously in the weekend, the start on the mound. It didn’t exactly go as planned, though, as Main accumulated 24 pitches, and gave up two hits, two walks and run before she was relieved by Denhart. The freshman pitched through the second and third innings without letting any runs across before she was relieved by Golden, who held Blue Raiders scoreless as well.

Maryland’s offense couldn’t break through and get any runs across the plate until the top of the fifth inning, when Kassidy Cross put a ball over the fence to tie the game at 1-1. The real hero of the game, though, was freshman Hannah Eslick, who didn’t originally start the game but was a replacement for third baseman Bailey Boyd. In the top of the sixth, Eslick roped a double into left field to give Maryland a late 2-1 lead.

With the lead in hand, Sydney Golden shut the door in the final inning, finally giving Maryland their first win of the season after a long weekend in California.

The standouts

Skylynne Ellazar had the strongest weekend at the plate of any player, going 10 of 17 (.588) and chipping in 2 RBIs as well. Sophomore Kassidy Cross matched the senior with a homer and two RBIs during the weekend. They combined to knock in four of the Terps’ eight runs.

Ryan Denhart and Sydney Golden appear to be assuming the roles of Madison Martin and Hannah Dewey as the team’s leading pitching options, with Denhart throwing 15.2 innings and Golden 11.2. Both were effective, as Golden recorded a 1.20 ERA to Denhart’s 2.23 mark. Maryland had a 2.06 ERA as a team, and now needs the hitting and fielding to step up going forward.

Looking ahead

Julie Wright and the Terps are off for six days before they start back up in Auburn on Saturday when they take on Delaware. Maryland will also play No. 14 Auburn twice and St. Francis (PA) next weekend.