Maryland softball travelled to Miami, Florida, over the weekend to face off against Ball State, Tulsa, Florida International and Samford in the Panther Invitational.
The Terps went 4-1 in one of their most successful weekend tournaments thus far in the season, defining more clearly the roles of individual players and the dynamic of the team as a whole.
Maryland begins invitational with shutout against Ball State, 3-0
The Terps, looking forward from a 3-2 record in Arizona last weekend, opened the Panther Invitational with a shutout game against the Ball State Cardinals.
Pitcher Trinity Schlotterbeck stayed in the circle for the entire game for the third time this season, allowing four hits and recording her sixth winning game in her freshman campaign. Senior third baseman Anna Kufta helped Schlotterbeck in the first inning to send the Cardinals back without any hits.
As far as its offense, Maryland found its groove early, loading the bases in the first inning with the first three players in the lineup. Then, freshman Taylor Liguori smacked a ball to center field, bringing sophomore Regan Kerr in for the first run of the game. Two Terps were left on base, though, after a defensive play by the Cardinals caught Kufta before she could make it home.
In the third inning, the Cardinals seemed to have a chance of overcoming the Terps’ early 1-0 lead with the bases loaded. But a pitch from Schlotterbeck ended Ball State’s chances and kept the team scoreless.
Maryland then came back, scoring two runs in the bottom of the third.
After an error by Cardinals freshman third baseman Haley Wynn, senior Amanda Brashear hit an RBI single that brought home Liguori for the second run of the day. Then, another error from the Cardinals brought junior Sammie Stefan home, bringing the Terps’ lead to 3-0 before the next two batters struck out.
For the remaining innings, both teams were able to a couple hits but were never able to make it all the way home, securing Maryland’s first win of what would turn out to be a successful tournament for the Terps.
Terps can’t overcome early deficit, drop only game to Tulsa, 4-0
In their only loss of the weekend, the Terps faced an early deficit against the Hurricane that they couldn’t recover from, losing 4-0 in their second game Friday.
With freshman Courtney Wyche in the circle, Tulsa had a strong offensive start. In the bottom of the first, the Hurricane were able to get three hits with no outs right off the bat.
Wyche was eventually able to strike out the last Tulsa batter and end the inning, but this came after the Hurricanes put up four easy runs.
The second and third innings seemed to give the Terps some hope, with two hits during each. However, two runners were left on base in both innings with strikeout pitches from Tulsa’s junior Samantha Pochop. Pochop struck out six Terps throughout the game compared to Wyche’s two.
Maryland managed to outhit the Hurricanes, 7-6, but it wasn’t enough to combat its shortage. Late in the game, the Terps continued their habits from the second and third innings into the fifth, where they once again left two runners in scoring position without bringing anyone home before returning to the dugout.
The Hurricane also failed to score any runs for the rest of the game, but their early success doomed Maryland to lose for the first time of the weekend.
Maryland takes second game against Tulsa, 5-0
In the second game of the tournament, the Terps came back against their opponents from the first day with a vengeance, defeating the Tulsa Hurricane 5-0.
In the bottom of the first inning, Kerr singled before stealing second, — her team-high 12th steal of the season. An RBI from Kufta to left field brought the sophomore home, starting the Terps off on the right foot — unlike their previous matchup with Tulsa.
Maryland came back to score again in the third when redshirt junior Micaela Abbatine brought freshman Campbell Kline in for the Terps’ second run of the day and for her second RBI of the season.
Schlotterbeck once again held down the defense against the Hurricane, only allowing Tulsa to notch one hit for her second shutout in the invitational.
The sixth inning was crucial for the Terps to secure their victory against the Hurricane.
Junior JoJo McRae, pinch running for Kufta, made it home on a left field hit from junior Sammie Stefan.
Two more Terps — junior Shelby Younkin and senior Amanda Brashear — made it home as well, bringing Maryland’s lead to 5-0.
Maryland’s win streak builds to two with 5-3 win against Florida International
The Terps went up against the Panthers for their second game on Saturday, coming out on top 5-3 with a strong offensive position.
At the beginning of the game, an error by the Panthers sophomore pitcher Alexys Lawson allowed sophomore Taylor Okada to reach second base and Kerr to score a run. Okada scored an unearned run on a flyout to center field from Liguori’s bat.
The Panthers loaded the bases in the first inning with Wyche in the circle to start. However, Maryland replaced Wyche with senior Kiana Carr in an effort to slow FIU’s batters. The Panthers scored one run before a great throw from Kline, who was in placed in center field, to sophomore catcher Gracie Voulgaris helped Carr end the inning, sending Florida International back to the dugout.
But Maryland didn’t mess around. Coming back to bat in the second inning, senior Amanda Brashear made it home on an RBI from Kerr and Kline scored a second run for the Terps, bringing Maryland’s lead to 4-1 going into the third inning.
Kerr scored her second run of the day in the top of the fifth on an error by the Panthers.
Florida International attempted to come back in the fifth as well with two RBI hits to right center and to left field, bring the score to 5-3.
Schlotterbeck came into the circle for Carr, pitching a final ball, which lined out to Okada on second base and closed the Panthers’ most successful inning on offense to an end.
Both teams found little luck at bat for the remainder of the game, allowing Maryland to obtain its third win of the weekend.
Terps finish strong with 11-3 victory against Samford
In a mercy-rule five-inning game, the Terps secured their final victory of the Panther Invitational against the Samford Bulldogs, 11-3.
Okada started the Terps off in the first inning by scoring a run on a sacrifice fly ball from Kufta. The Bulldogs came back fighting, though, with three hits on Schlotterbeck and two runs — her only runs allowed the entire weekend — starting Samford off with a 2-1 lead.
However, the Terps didn’t let that last long with Kerr smacking a hit left center field, scoring her team three runs at the top of the second.
Samford answered in the next inning with a home through the left side in the third inning — its last run of the game.
The Terps made the Bulldogs miserable in the fourth inning. Okada began with an RBI walk, Kufta added an RBI single, and junior Shelby Younkin brought home two more on a double to extend Maryland’s lead to 8-3.
Although they left three runners on base at the end of the game, Maryland’s batters continued to succeed in the fifth. Kline made it home on a wild pitch. Kufta’s third RBI of the game brought McRae in. The last run of the game was scored by Kerr on a left field flyout by Liguori.
The Bulldogs couldn’t manage to get any hits in the bottom of the fifth, ending the game early in an exceptional 11-3 game.
Three things to know
- Freshman pitcher Trinity Schlotterbeck is getting more time in the circle. Schlotterbeck pitched during all four of the Terps’ winning games this weekend, only allowing only 11 hits and three runs across the three-day tournament. She improved to 6-5 on the season, looking good for the Terps in her first year with the program.
- Anna Kufta is proving to be a strong leader. The senior infielder is currently the team’s leader in batting average, with a .424, in hits (28) and in RBIs (12). She went 7-for-14 during the Panther Invitational and played a key role in the Terps’ victory over the Samford Bulldogs, hitting three RBIs.
- The Terps have seen progress. The team now has a winning record, 12-11. Their 4-1 weekend is starkly different from the first two tournaments of the season, 1-4 and 1-3, respectively. They have one more weekend before Big Ten games start up, and are definitely seeing the team dynamic become more concrete.