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Pitching woes doom Maryland softball in series sweep vs. Ohio State

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The Terps pitching rotation didn’t have a great weekend in Columbus.

Julie Wright Maryland softball Photo by Maryland Athletics

For the second consecutive series, Maryland softball was overmatched by its opponent to result in a three-game sweep. In each game it was either the pitching or the hitting that couldn’t get on track, ultimately leading to Ohio State being able to take all three games.

Friday: Ohio State 13, Maryland 5 (6 innings)

Ohio State’s offense was too much for the Terps to handle in the weekend’s first game, as the Buckeyes put 13 runs on the scoreboard. They scored six in the first two innings and added one in the fourth before scoring six more runs in the bottom of the sixth, turning a two-run game into a mercy rule-induced finish.

Ryan Denhart got the start for Maryland, but couldn’t seem to figure things out against the Ohio State hitters, pitching 5.1 innings but allowing 13 hits and 11 earned runs. Sami Main made a brief appearance too, recording one out in the sixth but allowing the final run to end the game.

Maryland’s offense had a decent day, generating five runs off of five hits. Bridgette Nordberg had an all-around strong performance, going 1-for-3 with an RBI and two runs scored. Hannah Eslick and Kassidy Cross both chipped in RBIs as well.

Saturday: Ohio State 9, Maryland 5

Maryland matched its game one run total in game two, but Ohio State’s offense was still too much. The Buckeyes put up two runs in the first and third innings, but went on to score five in the fourth to put the game away.

Skylynne Ellazar, Anna Kufta and Amanda Brashear made up most of the offensive production for Maryland this game. Brashear and Ellazar each went 2-for-4, with Brashear adding two RBIs as well. Kufta went 1-for-1 with two RBIs and two walks.

Julie Wright went with Sydney Golden for the second game of the series, and the junior pitched four innings and allowed six earned runs. It was also a game where Maryland committed too many errors, as three miscues led to three unearned runs for Ohio State. Denhart pitched the final two innings without allowing a hit.

Sunday: Ohio State 5, Maryland 2

Maryland’s offense was shut down in the final game of the series as Ohio State completed the sweep. The game was scoreless until Ohio State plated two runs in the fourth. Maryland responded with two runs in the fifth, but didn’t have a response for the three more runs scored by Ohio State in the bottom of the frame.

Denhart made her fourth consecutive pitching appearance by getting the start and pitched well, throwing six innings and only allowing two earned runs. However, as has been a recurring issue for Maryland, two errors in the field led to two unearned runs. Golden also pitched to two batters in the fifth, but allowed a pair of inherited runners to score before Denhart was brought back in.

The Terps were unable to get their hitters going against Ohio State’s Shelby McCombs, with the offense only totaling four hits with just two runs. Kassidy Cross and Bridgette Nordberg each had some success at the plate, Cross going a perfect 3-3 and Nordberg going 1-4 with two RBIs.

Three things to know

  1. Maryland is on a six-game losing streak. On April 17, Maryland swept Rutgers in a doubleheader, which was a moment where it looked like the Terps could build some late momentum entering the final half of Big Ten play. Since then, though, they haven’t won a game and have been beaten convincingly each time. While Maryland’s opponents have been among the best teams in the conference, that’s still not ideal.
  2. Ryan Denhart had a busy series in the circle. Denhart appeared in all three games this series for Maryland, starting two games and coming on in relief in the other. In total, Denhart pitched 13.1 of 20 innings over the course of the series. One thing that’s been consistent all season is that although Denhart is just a freshman, Julie Wright has no problem leaning on her and using her as a go-to option.
  3. Bridgette Nordberg keeps getting RBIs. In what has been somewhat of a breakout sophomore season, Nordberg continued her solid play in this series. She added a team-high three RBIs over the weekend to bring her season total to 17, good for second-best on the team behind Anna Kufta.

On deck

Maryland closes out its regular season with a series at home against Michigan State. The Terps are currently 10th in the Big Ten standings—the top 12 make the conference tournament—and this coming weekend will be crucial for seeding. The first game begins at 6 p.m. on Friday.