Maryland softball traveled to Tempe, Arizona, for its fourth weekend tournament of the season. The team went 3-2 in the Sun Devil Classic, facing off against Southern Utah, Arizona State and Wisconsin.
The Terps’ record is now 8-10, and they will compete in two more weekend tournaments before Big Ten play begins.
Maryland starts weekend with 3-2 win over Southern Utah
In the bottom of the first inning against the Southern Utah Thunderbirds, sophomore Taylor Okada hit a single before senior Anna Kufta stepped up to bat.
Kufta fired a two-run home run to right center field to give Maryland a 2-0 lead to start the Sun Devil Classic Friday.
Freshman pitcher Trinity Schlotterbeck spent just over five innings in the circle for Maryland. The Thunderbirds got a couple hits in during the first and fifth innings, but the Terps’ defense was able to send Southern Utah back to the dugout without any successful runs until the sixth inning.
Maryland also didn’t see much action in the middle of the game. But in the top of the sixth, freshman Taylor Liguori singled to shortstop before stealing second base. Then it was junior Shelby Younkin’s turn at bat.
Younkin singled and advanced on a throwing error by the Thunderbirds’ defense. Liguori made it home to secure a 3-0 lead for the Terps.
Southern Utah made a solid attempt to come back from its deficit in the sixth, with a home run from sophomore Makall Whetten and an unearned run by junior Paige Reynolds resulting from a center field error by the Terps.
Schlotterbeck was replaced for senior Kiana Carr, who struck out the final Thunderbird at bat and kept the score managed at 3-2. She was given the save — her first of the season.
The seventh inning was less dramatic than the sixth, with one hit for each team but no runs scored, leaving the Terps on the top for a 3-2 score to start their weekend in Arizona.
Terps blown out by No. 23 Arizona State, 8-0
In their second game of the Classic, the Terps fell 8-0 to No. 23 Arizona State Friday. The Sun Devils were able to score eight runs in the third inning, dooming Maryland to a mercy-rule five inning loss.
The first two innings were relatively uneventful, with only two hits for each team and no runs scored. However, the bottom of the third started tough for the Terps.
Sun Devil senior Kindra Hackbarth hit a home run to start the inning off. Coming back to the plate soon after, she hit a two RBI ball, bringing the Sun Devils’ lead to 3-0.
At this point, the Terps switched freshman pitcher Courtney Wyche for sophomore Amelia Jarecke in an effort to stop Arizona State’s scoring streak.
Senior Maddi Hackbarth, Kindra’s twin sister, advanced to third on a wild pitch and made it home. Then, junior Kiara Kennedy hit a three-run homer, bringing the score to 7-0.
Maryland switched pitchers again, putting Wyche back in the circle. In case the Hackbarth sisters hadn’t had enough action already, Kindra Hackbarth singled to left field at her next at-bat and was brought home by junior Bella Loomis.
The Sun Devils finished the third inning with a whopping 8-0 lead.
Maryland managed to get two runners on base in the fourth inning, but ultimately left both stranded. Arizona State loaded the bases in the bottom of the fourth, which could have potentially brought its lead even higher, but couldn’t manage to score any runs with Carr in the circle.
The game ended after the top of the fifth in a disappointing game for Maryland, falling 8-0.
Maryland earns another 3-2 victory over Southern Utah
The Terps went up against Southern Utah for the second time Saturday morning, coming out on top again with another 3-2 win.
Maryland started the first couple innings of its second faceoff against the Thunderbirds with a couple of hits but no major movement towards home plate.
However, the fourth inning saw much more excitement.
Junior Brooke Brown hit a two-run homer for Southern Utah, putting her team in the lead. It seemed like the Thunderbirds would keep going, with runners on second and third bases, but Wyche was able to strike out the final hitter and keep Southern Utah’s offense in check.
Maryland started to come back in the bottom of the fourth. Liguori hit a double and advanced to third on a single from junior Taylor Wilson. Sophomore Gracie Voulgaris hit a flyout to right field, giving Liguori time to score a run and bring the score to 2-1 going into the fifth.
Maryland tied the score up in the fifth inning with an unearned run by sophomore Regan Kerr. Southern Utah had two errors in this inning defensively, giving the Terps a golden opportunity to recover.
The Terps finally came out on top in the seventh inning, loading the bases. Voulgaris hit a single to left field, bringing sophomore Taylor Okada home to secure a second 3-2 win against the Thunderbirds for Maryland.
Maryland gets the job done in 5-4 win over Wisconsin
In another come-from-behind victory, the Terps were able to surpass the Wisconsin Badgers in their fourth game of the Sun Devil Classic, 5-4.
The Badgers started the game strong, with three hits and two runs in just the first inning. And it looked like Wisconsin would keep its two-point lead, until some fourth inning magic by the Terps.
After Maryland loaded the bases at the bottom of the fourth, sophomore Gracie Voulgaris hit an RBI, bringing freshman Taylor Liguori home. Then, redshirt junior Micaela Abbatine was hit by a pitch, bringing junior Shelby Younkin home for a second run.
A two RBI swing down the left field line gave Abbatine and Voulgaris time to get home, bringing the score to a lead for the Terps, 4-2, going into the fifth inning.
But the Badgers weren’t eager to lose their lead. In the top of the fifth, they tied the score up at 4-4 with two batters reaching on fielder’s choice and scoring two runs with two errors from the Maryland defense.
Maryland came back fighting at the bottom of the sixth to push ahead of its competition though. Kerr reached on an error by the Badgers’ defense and freshman Campbell Kline made it home for the last run of the game, just enough for the Terps to come out ahead of the Badgers with a final score of 5-4.
Schlotterbeck stayed in the circle for all seven innings, the first time this weekend that the coaches have kept a consistent pitcher for the duration of a game.
Terps embarrassed in 16-2 loss to No. 23 Arizona State
Any hopes Maryland had of redemption against No. 23 Arizona State were crushed in its second meeting with the Sun Devils, in it lost in another mercy-rule five inning game, 16-2.
The Sun Devils didn’t waste any time, scoring two runs in the first innings. The Hackbarth twins, seniors Kindra and Maddi, played tough offensively in the bottom of the first, with Kindra scoring a run and Maddi hitting flyout RBI to left field.
Arizona State continued this streak into the second, scoring three more runs. After a two RBI hit from Kindra Hackbarth, the Terps switched pitchers from Schlotterbeck to Wyche. But it didn’t slow down the Sun Devils quite enough. Maddi Hackbarth hit another RBI flyout, bringing her sister back home.
Redshirt senior pitcher Cielo Meza for the Sun Devils didn’t make life easy for Terps hitters as Maryland wasn’t able to get any hits in the second, third and fourth innings.
In the third inning, the Maryland defense couldn’t keep up with Sun Devils hitters. An error from senior Amanda Brashear allowed two Sun Devils to score unearned runs. Junior JoJo McRae, at left field, also made an error allowing a runner to advance for Arizona State.
The Sun Devils scored six runs in the third, bringing their lead to 11-0 and making a chance of a Terps recovery far out of reach.
The Sun Devils got three home runs in the fourth inning, two of them being two RBI swings, by freshman Jordyn Vanhook, junior Halle Harger and sophomore Olivia Miller.
Maryland did get some offensive action at the last minute in the fifth inning, though.
An impressive two RBI swing from sophomore Taylor Okada brought freshman Campbell Kline and junior Taylor Wilson home. The Terps got more hits – four – in just the fifth inning than they did in the rest of the game combined.
But it wasn’t enough to overcome the nightmarish 16-0 deficit they began the inning with and the Terps fell to the Sun Devils for a second time with a final score of 16-2.
Three things to know
1. Anna Kufta stood out in Maryland’s matchup against Southern Utah. Kufta, a senior who led the team in RBIs and doubles last season, scored her first homer of the season in the Terps’ first game against Southern Utah. Kufta has hit eight RBIs and scored nine runs for Maryland this season.
2. The Terps seem to be improving. Going into the weekend with a 5-8 record, Maryland seems to be moving closer to its goal of having a winning season, as new head coach Mark Montgomery has stated. If offensive work, like in the Terps’ game against Wisconsin, continues, the team has a real shot of improving from past seasons.
3. There’s more work to be done (of course). Although the Terps conquered Wisconsin, which is currently ranked No. 27 in the NCAA, Maryland (ranked No. 134) struggled against No. 23 Arizona State in both games against the Sun Devils.
These tournaments are a great opportunity for the Terps, a team with multiple new players and an entirely new coaching staff, to find their strengths and weaknesses and address them as a team before heading into league games in a couple weeks.