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Maryland softball’s freshmen have been key to the Terps’ strong offensive start

Second baseman Taylor Okada and catcher Gracie Voulgaris have made immediate impacts at the top of the order.

Julie Wright Maryland softball Photo by Maryland Athletics

Maryland softball is off to a 9-6 start, its best in four seasons under head coach Julie Wright. The Terps had to overhaul their roster in the offseason, but the freshman class has adjusted well to the college game and been productive right away.

Second baseman Taylor Okada has been the Terps’ leadoff hitter from the onset of the season. Being the leadoff hitter is a tough task and comes with a lot of pressure for any player, especially a rookie. However, Okada has played excellent in this role for the Maryland offense.

“She doesn’t get too high, she doesn’t get too low. She is perfect for the game of softball,” head coach Julie Wright said Wednesday. “It’s not the end of the world if she gets out, and it’s not the greatest thing in the world if she gets a triple.”

Okada’s mindset has definitely helped her out at the plate, as she is flourishing in the leadoff spot, leading the team in batting average (.440), hits (22), triples (3) and runs scored (12). The second baseman has also recorded two stolen bases.

Teammates have also taken notice of Okada’s great play and her mentality.

“She does not play like a freshman,” sophomore Taylor Wilson said. “She plays well beyond her years.”

The other freshman that has put together an impressive start is catcher Gracie Voulgaris, who has faced a tough task on both the offensive and defensive side of things. The freshman has not only found herself hitting in the cleanup spot, but she’s caught nearly every inning for the Terps and has had to develop a connection with five different pitchers.

“The growth in [Voulgaris] has been tremendous,” Wright said. “She has just gotten better and better and better. I’ve just been thrilled with her production on the field.”

Voulgaris has posted a .316 batting average and .856 OPS, and she ranks second on the team in RBIs with 14. The catcher has also shown great discipline at the plate, drawing six walks for a .409 on-base percentage. Not only has she done a great job behind the dish, but she also has already shown some flashes of leadership on and off the field.

“She’s doing a great job, leading the defenders and communicating with the pitchers when they need help,” Wilson said.

Wright knows that there can be some bumps in the road with a young team, but she’s pleased with how the freshman class and team as a whole have performed so far.

“When you have youth and you have inexperience, comes inconsistency at times … losing games maybe you shouldn’t quite lose.” Wright said. “The freshman have played great. I think at times they’ve played like freshman, but most of the time they play like veterans.”

The Terrapins look to continue their success this weekend as they kick off the Carolina Classic on Friday.