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Maryland softball salvages 1 of 3 in weekend series vs. Penn State

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Costly mistakes on defense resulted in a series loss against the Nittany Lions.

julie wright maryland softball Lila Bromberg / Testudo Times

Maryland softball committed too many mistakes this weekend, and Penn State was able to take advantage. After a couple of games with quiet bats and defensive mistakes, the Terrapins cleaned it up for the series finale to cap off a 1-2 weekend. Maryland now moves to 20-23, with a 4-11 record in conference play.

Game summaries

Saturday Game 1: Penn State 12, Maryland 1

Defensive miscues hurt the Terps in the first game of the series, as Maryland committed four errors. The mistakes on defense gave Penn State multiple opportunities, and the Nittany Lions were able to capitalize.

Penn State got things started with some small ball. The leadoff batter, senior Toni Polk, got on base after a ground ball hit off the glove of sophomore first baseman Taylor Wilson. The following batter recorded a bunt single, to put runners on first and second. Junior Destiny Weber ripped an RBI single up the middle to plate the first run of the game, and a few batters later, Penn State added another run on a sac fly.

Trailing 2-0 in the first inning, the Terps got on the board with a two-out solo shot over the left field wall by junior Anna Kufta. However, this home run was the only run scored by the Terps as they were shut down Penn State, recording just three hits.

Senior Sydney Golden started in the circle and didn’t get much help from her defense. The ace pitched just three innings, allowing seven hits and recording two strikeouts. The Nittany Lions scored six runs off Golden, but none of the runs were earned. In most situations, Golden was able to get out of tough spots, including a bases-loaded jam in the second inning, where the senior only allowed one run.

However, Penn State broke the game open once Golden was taken out. Senior Sami Main came into the game in the fourth inning after Golden allowed an RBI single, giving Penn State a 5-1 lead. Main came in with a runner on second and was able to record two quick outs. The following batter drew a walk, and Penn State made Main pay. With two out and two on, junior Delaney Elling clobbered a three-run homer over the left field wall to give Penn State an 8-1 lead.

In the seventh inning, Main found herself in some more trouble. After hitting the leadoff batter and allowing back-to-back singles, the senior walked in a run. With two outs and bases loaded, Main walked another batter, allowing the Nittany Lions to plate a run. The following hitter, freshman Anna Deshaies, capped off the inning with a two-run double to make it 12-1. The Terps went down in order in the bottom of the frame to seal the deal.

Saturday Game 2: Penn State 9, Maryland 3

Penn State jumped out to an early start in the second game of the doubleheader. The Terps were forced to use three different pitchers in just the first inning.

Polk led things off for the Nittany Lions with a solo homer over the center field wall for an early 1-0 lead. Redshirt freshman Victoria Galvan started in the circle, but only faced seven batters and gave up four runs before she was taken out. Junior Kiana Carr came on in relief, but walked the only two batters she faced before being relieved by Main. The senior was put into a bases-loaded jam and was able to induce a fly ball out to get out of the inning without surrendering a run.

With a 4-0 lead, Penn State tacked on some more runs in the following inning. Main walked the leadoff batter and surrendered a two-run home run to freshman Chelsea Bisi, extending the lead to 6-0. With two outs in the frame, Main walked the bases loaded but was able to get out if it without allowing another run.

The Terps got on the board in the third inning after a couple of singles by freshman Regan Kerr and sophomore JoJo McRae. A few batters later, Kufta drew a walk to load the bases for Wilson, who hit an RBI groundout. The following batter, sophomore Sammie Stefan, hit a bloop single into right field, plating McRae and Kufta, cutting the deficit to 6-3. However, this would be the only inning that the Terrapins scored in.

In the fourth, Penn State put together a two-out rally to plate an additional insurance run on an RBI single by freshman Melina Livingston to go up 7-3. In the following inning, another walk issued by Main allowed the Nittany Lions to put a runner into scoring position. Penn State tacked on two more runs after recording back-to-back doubles to extend the lead to 9-3.

The Terps went scoreless for four straight innings after scoring their only three runs of the game, finishing with just seven hits on the day.

Sunday: Penn State 4, Maryland 5

Maryland played a much cleaner game in the series finale, as the Terps didn’t commit an error. They also got the bats going, totaling five runs on nine hits.

Penn State jumped out to an early 1-0 lead after Polk took Golden deep over the right field wall in the third inning. But the Maryland ace was able to bounce back after the homer and record two quick outs to limit the damage.

Besides the one run scored, Golden bounced back from her last start and threw a solid game. The defense behind her was much better in this one, allowing the senior to toss four innings, surrendering just one run on three hits.

The Terps answered back in a big way in the bottom of the frame, scoring three runs. The inning started with Kerr reaching first on an error at shortstop. Kerr put herself into scoring position by swiping second and moved over to third on a McRae single. McRae stole second on the following pitch, giving Maryland runners on second and third. Sophomore Shelby Younkin poked one into left field, plating Kerr. The big blow came a few batters later when Wilson roped a double into left, scoring McRae and Younkin and giving the Terps a 3-1 lead.

In the following frame, Maryland tacked on some insurance runs. Freshman Gracie Voulgaris drilled a leadoff double into left field to put herself in scoring position. A few batters later, Kerr followed up with a double of her own to bring home Voulgaris. The Terps loaded the bases after a McRae single and a Younkin walk, but they were only able to score one on a walk by Wilson, extending the lead to 5-1.

In the fifth inning, Golden was taken out and was replaced by Main. The senior right-hander recorded two quick outs, but similar to her last appearance, she was hurt by walks. Main walked two consecutive batters to set up a three-run home run off the bat of Bisi, cutting the Maryland lead to 5-4.

In the top of the seventh, the Nittany Lions put runners on second and third with two outs after a hit and a walk. Main settled down and got Bisi to fly out to deep left field to secure the lone win of the series for Maryland.

At the plate

The Terps scored 9 runs on 19 hits in this series, which was a big improvement from their four total runs scored last weekend against Indiana. McRae recorded a .400 average during the weekend, scoring two runs and picking up two stolen bases. Kerr only started in two games but went 3-for-5, scoring three runs and driving in one. Wilson continued to display her situational hitting as she picked up a team-high four RBIs during the weekend.

“I think Penn State was doing a good job of keeping us on our toes,” Kerr said. “They threw a lot of pitchers … and I think that when they saw we were adjusting well to one of their pitchers, they put a new one in right away, which I think they did really well.”

In the circle

Defensive errors, walks and miscues that didn’t show up on the scorecard severely hurt the Terrapins in this series. Golden, Galvan, Main and Carr combined to issue 20 walks. To put this number into perspective, the Nittany Lions’ pitchers only issued four. Main had the most trouble with control this weekend, as the senior gave out 13 free passes. Golden tossed seven total innings and surrendered seven runs, but only one of those runs was earned.

“It wasn’t really about the walks, honestly,” head coach Julie Wright said. “It was about the defense. We just didn’t bring it defensively, and we just cannot have that many errors and expect to win a ballgame. Lots of people say defense wins ballgames; I personally believe defense loses them.”

On deck

Maryland will travel to New Jersey to take on Rutgers in a midweek doubleheader. The Scarlet Knights are currently 22-20 (6-9 Big Ten). The first game of the doubleheader is slated to start Tuesday at 1 p.m. ET.