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Maryland softball takes 2 of 3 from Penn State to start Big Ten play

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The Terps got the better of a struggling conference foe.

Maryland softball Skylynne Ellazar Photo by Maryland Athletics

Maryland softball officially opened Big Ten play this weekend in a matchup of struggling squads, playing three games against Penn State, who entered the weekend 3-18 this season. The Terps played well against the lesser competition, winning two out of three games to take the series.

Saturday game one: Penn State 8, Maryland 3

It was freshman Ryan Denhart on the mound to start things off for the Terps, as usual. But it wasn’t Denhart’s best outing, as she gave up five runs in the first inning and two more in the second. She ended up surrendering eight runs on 11 hits to the Penn State hitters, but still pitched the entire game for Maryland.

Maryland’s offense was ineffective for most of the game, with the contributions coming primarily from Skylynne Ellazar, Anna Kufta and Bailey Boyd. Ellazar had an RBI single in the fourth, while Boyd’s RBI came on a fielder’s choice in the same inning. Kufta picked up an RBI in the top of the seventh, but the scoring stopped there and the Terps were defeated.

Saturday game two: Maryland 8, Penn State 0 (5 innings)

The Terps were able to quickly shake off their slow start to the series on Saturday, winning the second half of the doubleheader with ease.

It was a big game for the Maryland hitters, scoring eight runs for the first time in over a month. Kufta had a particularly strong outing, going 3-for-3 with two RBIs and two doubles. Ellazar continued her strong play, going 2-for-3 with two runs and an RBI. Amanda Brashear, Taylor Wilson, Bridgette Nordberg and Mikayla Werahiko each contributed RBIs as well.

The pitching for the Terps was also stellar in this game. Sydney Golden got the start, and like Denhart she pitched the entire game. Golden, because of the mercy rule, pitched five shutout innings, giving up two hits. It was an all-around performance for the Terps in what was a much-needed win after starting slow in the game prior.

Sunday: Maryland 4, Penn State 3

After blowing a 3-0 lead, Ellazar pushed the Terps ahead for good with a homer in the final inning, and Maryland held on for a gutty win to take the series.

Golden made her second consecutive start, again pitching well. She pitched a complete game while only giving up three runs on six hits. Golden was credited her second win of the weekend, improving her record to 6-10.

Ellazar finished off the weekend the same way she started it, going 3-3 with an RBI and a walk in the final game of the series. She came up clutch when the Terps needed her, hitting the go-ahead home run in the top of the seventh, giving Maryland the lead they needed to get the win. Kassidy Cross also made a major contribution coming off the bench, hitting a pinch-hit triple that scored two runs. Anna Kufta added another RBI to her strong weekend off a single as well.

In a game that could have gone either way, Maryland picked up a huge win to get their Big Ten campaign off on the right foot.

The standouts

Much like the first half of the season, Skylynne Ellazar continued to be the same effective player for the Terp offense. She finished 6-for-9 on the weekend and added three RBIs, including the big home run in the final game. Anna Kufta also had a solid series, going 4-for-9 and contributing four RBIs.

Sydney Golden played some of her best softball of the year this weekend. She pitched two complete games, and only allowed two runs and eight hits. It seemed as though Julie Wright was riding the hot hand, in this case Golden, when deciding who to start this week after Denhart’s poor performance in the series opener. Golden’s performance is encouraging, though, as the junior transfer struggled at times during tournament play.

On deck

The Terps (12-20, 2-1 Big Ten) will return home to College Park next weekend when they host the Iowa Hawkeyes (13-13, 1-1). The three-game series will begin on Friday at 6 p.m. ET.