Coming off a series in which Maryland softball was dominated by Indiana, the Terps had an opportunity to right themselves in the Big Ten standings with a midweek doubleheader against Rutgers. The Terps took care of business in both games, sweeping the Scarlet Knights to lift their record to 18-27 and 7-7 in the Big Ten.
Game 1: Maryland 5, Rutgers 3
Maryland’s offense came to play in the first half of the Tuesday doubleheader, as the Terps took Game 1, 5-3.
The bats got going early, bringing a run across in the first inning thanks to an Anna Kufta single. Things kept rolling into the second inning, as a Jacqui Pascual single followed by a Bailey Boyd double had the Terps set up with runners on second and third with no outs. But the two hits were followed by a quick three outs, and it appeared as though the Terps botched a possible game-deciding opportunity. It proved not to be a fatal error, though, as Pascual took matters into her own hands and drove in a run in the fourth, with three more coming in the fifth off a Kufta single and a poorly played fielder’s choice by the Rutgers infield.
Ryan Denhart was tasked with shutting down the Rutgers offense, and did a reasonably good job for the most part. She ended up pitching 6.2 innings, allowing six hits and three runs, but worked herself into a tough, bases-loaded situation in the top of the seventh and was taken out for Sydney Golden, who got the final out of the game.
“Ryan, when she gets a little tired will leave a ball in an area where they maybe could drive it,” Coach Julie Wright told reporters after the game. “[Sydney] was able to come in and get a couple pitches under her belt and she can go and attack that next kid, so it worked just exactly the way we wanted it to.”
It was a promising start to the doubleheader for the Terps, especially after the way they struggled against Indiana in the previous series.
Game 2: Maryland 8, Rutgers 7
In a game that lasted over two hours and featured a seven-run comeback capped by a walkoff hit, Maryland beat Rutgers 8-7 to complete the doubleheader sweep.
Golden started the game for the Terps and came out strong, allowing two runs through the first five innings before the wheels came off in the top of the sixth. She allowed three runs, and Sami Main inherited a bases-loaded, one-out situation and gave up three hits and two runs to push the deficit to 7-1. Denhart relieved Main, and would finish the game without allowing a run.
Maryland’s offense was stymied by Rutgers’ Cambria Keefer for the first five innings of the game, but broke through with back-to-back home runs by Skylynne Ellazar and Kufta, which cut the deficit to four. Keefer exited the game and Maryland kept the rally going, following up the home runs with a Mikayla Werahiko RBI double and a game-tying three-run home run by Amanda Brashear. After Denhart retired the Rutgers hitters without letting any runs across, Ellazar opened the top of the seventh with a double. A double by Bridgette Nordberg pushed Ellazar to third, then Pascual hit a double over the right fielder’s head to win the game and complete the comeback for the Terps.
“I wanted to barrel up to ball, even just get a pop-up to the outfield to score that run for the walk-off,” Pascual said of the game-winning hit.
Maryland will return to the field this weekend for a three-game series at No. 14 Michigan.