When sophomore outfielder JoJo McRae was moved to the top of Maryland softball’s lineup as a result of an injury to freshman second baseman Taylor Okada, head coach Julie Wright only had to tell her one thing.
“It’s your spot,” Wright said. “Go get it done.”
Since the Okada injury, McRae has hit in the leadoff spot for 10 games. In this sample size, she possesses a .406 batting average and a .457 on-base percentage and has scored 12 runs. For the entirety of the season, the sophomore also leads the team in total runs scored with 30, and she ranks second in batting average (.337) and stolen bases (8).
In the beginning of the season, the sophomore was hitting near the bottom of the lineup, but now that she’s at the top, there hasn’t been much of a change in her mindset.
“I wouldn’t say that my approach has changed at all,” McRae said. “I think that my main focus is just doing whatever I can to get on.”
Being successful in the leadoff hole can be difficult, especially when the Okada was playing as well as any freshman in the country before her injury. However, McRae has stepped up to the challenge and has truly flourished in the spot.
“It is not a surprise to me that she is playing as well as she is,” Wright said. “She’s that good. She just kinda needed to find her way at this level, and I think she has.”
Not only has McRae been heating up on the offensive side of things, but the team as a whole is coming off an outstanding hitting performance. Last weekend, the Terps may have gone 1-2 against the Michigan State Spartans but there were some impressive accolades recorded. In an 8-7 extra-inning loss to the Spartans, the Terps tallied 16 hits, which were their most in a Big Ten game since 2015. Maryland also tallied 36 hits, their most in a Big Ten series since 2015, and the Terrapins also scored 21 runs, which is the most they’ve scored in a Big Ten series this year.
The Terps’ offense looks to stay hot as they travel to Bloomington, Indiana, this weekend to face the Indiana Hoosiers. The Hoosiers currently hold a 28-13 record, and while they’re off to just a 3-6 start to Big Ten play, Indiana has an impressive pitching staff that boasts an ERA of just 2.80. That’s well ahead of Michigan State’s 4.61, but the Terps will be looking for subtle differences.
“They can be a little more elevated in the zone and just throw a little bit more firm than Michigan State,” Wright said.
Indiana’s strong arms will set up for an intriguing showdown between solid pitching and hot offense. The series starts Friday at 6 p.m. ET.