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Maryland softball swept convincingly by Illinois

After winning five straight games, the Terps had no answers for the Illini.

julie wright maryland softball Lila Bromberg / Testudo Times

Maryland faced one of its tougher tests of the season this weekend, facing the 22-13 Illinois Fightin’ Illini. Maryland didn’t respond to the challenge, though, being dominated throughly in all three games, losing each by six runs or more.

Friday: Illinois 11, Maryland 0 (5 innings)

The Terps’ five-game winning streak met a disappointing end, as they were dominated in the series opener.

It was a rough outing for Ryan Denhart and Sydney Golden, as both were lit up by the Illinois hitters to the tune of 10 runs after the first two innings. Denhart was given the loss after allowing eight runs on nine hits, moving her to 7-10 on the season.

Things weren’t going well for the Maryland offense either, as Illinois’ Taylor Edwards was in control all game long. The Terps were held to just one hit all game (a single by Jacqui Pascual), and only managed one other baserunner off a Skylynne Ellazar walk.

Saturday: Illinois 7, Maryland 1

Things didn’t get much better for the Terps in their second matchup against the Illini, losing this time 7-1.

Golden pitched the first four innings of the game, with Denhart pitching the final two. The Illini were able to get off to a hot start again, as they put up a quick three runs in the bottom of the first. Maryland was able to hold the Illinois offense in check until the fifth inning, when the Terps surrendered four more runs.

The Maryland offense remained stagnant again, still being stifled by Illinois’ Taylor Edwards. The Terps were able to register five hits, but could only bring one run across off a Skylynne Ellazar sacrifice fly. Ultimately, the Maryland offense just couldn’t shake off their stale performance from the previous day’s game.

Sunday: Illinois 20, Maryland 2 (5 innings)

This was Maryland’s most demoralizing loss of the season.

Ryan Denhart only lasted one inning, allowing five runs on six hits. Sami Main only pitched a single inning as well, giving up five runs on three hits before being relieved by Golden. Golden had the toughest outing of the trio, throwing the final two innings while allowing 10 runs off nine hits. Denhart was credited with the loss.

Maryland’s offensive funk continued into the third game of the series, but this time it wasn’t at the hands of Taylor Edwards. Illinois’ rotation of Emily Oestreich, Akilah Mouzon, and Erin Walker handled the Maryland offense, holding them to two runs on six hits. Amanda Brashear was responsible for the two runs, going 1-for-3 on the day.

Three things to know

  1. Maryland’s pitching was at its worst this series. After playing so well in the previous two series, it was almost shocking to see what Illinois was able to do. Whether it was Denhart or Golden, neither were able to have any kind of success this weekend. How they respond to this weekend will likely determine the trajectory of the rest of the season.
  2. The Terps offense continued to struggle. Maryland’s pitching has been the driving force of the team during the five-game winning streak. The offense had been doing just enough to get the team wins, but will have to step it up in the coming weeks if the pitching can’t hold up their end of the bargain.
  3. Maryland plummets down the conference standings. Maryland got off to a hot start in Big Ten play after going 5-1 their series against Penn State and Iowa, which put them at the top of the Big Ten standings. That changed after this weekend, since the three losses dropped Maryland to 5-4, good for seventh out of 14 teams now.

On deck

Maryland will be back home for the next seven games, matching up first with Saint Francis (PA), then Indiana over the weekend and Rutgers next week. The Saint Francis doubleheader begins on Wednesday at 3 p.m. ET.