Hoping for a winning season under the guidance of a new coaching staff, Maryland softball started its first tournament of the season on a sour note.
The Terps, competing at the Texas Classic hosted by the Texas Longhorns, started a five-game weekend Thursday, going up against Wichita State and Texas. They were defeated in both matchups and start the season with an 0-2 record.
And the losses weren't close. Maryland didn’t record a single run in either matchup, losing by a combined 25 runs.
Maryland vs. Wichita State
In their first game of the 2020 season, the Terps debuted their work under new head coach Mark Montgomery but struggled to keep up with the Wichita State Shockers, losing 8-0 in a six-inning game.
Wichita State, Maryland’s first opponent of the tournament and of the season, put together a winning season in 2019 with a record of 32-24 and 12-9 in the AAC.
Freshman pitcher Courtney Wyche started the season off in the circle for the first three innings. Although she struggled to find the strike zone at first, she quickly found her rhythm. However, the Terps’ defense struggled to keep up with Wyche’s attempts to keep Wichita State from scoring.
The Shockers were up 3-0 by the end of the third inning, then they finished the game strong with five runs in the final two innings, defeating Maryland by way of mercy rule . Senior infielder Ryleigh Buck led the charge for Wichita State, scoring three runs on three at-bats.
Redshirt senior pitcher Bailey Lange dominated for the Shockers, limiting the Terps to only two hits through six shutout innings. Maryland’s senior infielder Anna Kufta and sophomore catcher Gracie Voulgaris were the sole Terps to get a hit during the game.
After electing to start with Wyche, Montgomery and the coaching staff put sophomore Amelia Jarecke in for 1.2 innings and senior Kiana Carr for 1.1 innings. But the duo still couldn’t halt the Shocker offense, allowing a total of seven hits and five earned runs.
Maryland vs. Texas
In their second game of the tournament, the Terps took on the Texas Longhorns — a team ranked No. 6 in the preseason Top 25 — and ultimately fell once again. Maryland couldn’t mutter any offense for the second time Thursday and lost 17-0 to the Longhorns in a five-inning game.
Longhorns sophomore pitcher Shealyn O’Leary stayed on the mound for all five innings, only giving up one hit to sophomore infielder Regan Kerr in the second inning. The Terps’ opposition was more successful, finishing with 15 total hits.
The Terps immediately found themselves in a whole, as Texas got off to a 3-0 lead after just one inning. But while their pitching staff was able to keep the Longhorns relatively contained for the next couple innings, the dam finally broke in the fourth.
As part of an eight-hit frame, Texas put 11 runs across the plate in the fourth against the trio of Jarecke, Carr and freshman Trinity Schlotterbeck, though many were unearned due to an abundance of errors.
Senior pitcher Miranda Elish served as the primary source of offense in the inning, as she had a pair of hits — a double and a homer — and drove in five runs. On the day, she finished a perfect 4-for-4 with a pair of runs and six RBI in addition to her five shoutout frames on the mound.
Redshirt senior outfielder Reagan Hathaway also had a solid day at the plate, hitting a homer in the second inning, scoring twice and driving in a pair of runs.
Maryland’s pitching once again let the team down, allowing a whopping 15 hits in just four innings of work. Schlotterbeck specifically had a debut to forget, as she surrendered 10 hits in two full frames. However, the staff had no help from its defense — of the 17 runs given up on the afternoon, only eight were earned due to four errors.
The tournament will continue Friday with the Terps facing off against Colorado State at 5:30 p.m. Maryland will go up against Lamar and Texas A&M-Corpus Christi Saturday, completing its first weekend of games in the season.
Three things to know:
- Maryland hasn’t scored yet this season, but hope is not lost. This is the first time since 2011 that Maryland softball didn’t score a single run in its first game of the season. That year, the Terps lost their first two games, failing to score in both. However, the team went 40-19 overall during the 2011 season, overcoming its bad start to the year.
- The Terps are still trying to find their groove. Montgomery said these first games of the season will be about the team analyzing its new strengths and weaknesses. With an entirely new coaching staff, the Terps will continue to search for effective winning strategies and figure how the pieces of the squad come together.
- It’s unclear which players will lead this year’s team. Senior infielder Anna Kufta led the team in RBI last year, and sophomore catcher Gracie Voulgaris led the team in on-base percentage with a .389 mark. The team’s upcoming games will show how Montgomery chooses to proceed and define players’ roles.