It was a tough weekend for Maryland softball at the Georgia State tournament in Atlanta. The Terps went 1-4, with two of those losses coming by a single run. Here’s what you need to know:
The Terps were agonizingly close to pulling off an upset. Junior Hannah Dewey was sharp on the mound, hurling 5 innings and giving up a single unearned run in the top of the fifth (alhough it was her error that let the leadoff hitter reach base). As stellar as she was, however, Crimson Tide pitcher Sydney Littlejohn was better. She held Maryland hitless through 4 innings and yielded just 2 overall.
Alexis Osorio entered the game for Alabama in the sixth, but the Terps threatened in the bottom of the seventh. With one on and two outs, Jordan Aughinbaugh walked and Destiney Henderson singled to load the bases. With the game on the line, star shortstop Lindsey Schmeiser stepped to the plate. She popped up to the catcher to end the rally and cap off an 0-for-4 day at the plate.
Somehow, this loss was even more heartbreaking. The Terps scored their first run of the tournament on a Skylynne Ellazar RBI single in the top of the first. Georgia State grabbed the lead with 2 runs in the bottom of the fifth, an inning lowlighted by Madison Martin coming in for Brenna Nation, throwing three illegal pitches, and being relieved by Nation. The Terps reclaimed the edge in the top of the sixth on RBI singles by Hannah Dewey and Corey Schwartz.
Maryland entered the final frame with a 3-2 lead, but the Panthers’ leadoff hitter reached on an error by Schmeiser and advanced to second on a sacrifice bunt. After a walk and a wild pitch, Reagan Morgan knocked a walk-off, two-run single to left. Brenna Nation threw 6.1 strong innings, but it wasn’t enough.
Hannah Dewey gave up 3 runs on 3 hits in the top of the first, but settled in to shut out the Bears through the next 3 frames. Lindsey Schmeiser put Maryland on the board with a solo shot in the second inning. The homer was her first hit of the tournament and her program record-tying 30th career blast. Mercer maintained a 3-1 lead through 4 innings and added another in the fifth on Madison Martin’s 4th balk of the weekend. Corey Schwartz drove in a run in the bottom of the fifth with a bases-loaded, two-out walk. But the Terps’ next hitter, sophomore Jacqui Pascual, struck out swinging to end the threat. Mercer scored a run in the top of the sixth, but Maryland countered with 2.
However, the Terps still entered the final frame down by a run. Lindsey Schmeiser started things off by reaching on an error, and then Jordan Aughinbaugh singled two batters later. Kylie Datil tied the game with an RBI double, and Destiney Henderson slapped the walk-off single through the left side. Freshman pitcher Sami Main recorded the win in her college debut, as she faced and retired the only batter she faced. It was a dramatic victory for the Terps, and surely felt even better after a healthy dose of heartbreak on Friday.
The Terps had a short turnaround from one game to another, and appeared to run out of steam. Miami scored an unearned run in the bottom of the third and held on to the 1-0 lead until catcher Lauren Anderson pounded a two-out, two-run homer off Brenna Nation in the fifth. Main entered in the sixth, but was relieved by Dewey after giving up two quick hits. Dewey hit a batter to load the bases but then recorded a pair of outs. With two down, the Redhawks scored four runs on back-to-back hits and blew the game wide open. Maryland scored its first run in the seventh via a Dewey single and Kristina Dillard RBI double. The Terps would load the bases on two hit batsmen, but a Haley Clements strikeout and Destiney Henderson lineout ended the rally and the game.
Maryland loaded the bases with one out in the top of the first, but only scratched out a single run on a Hannah Dewey bases-loaded walk. The Crimson Tide responded with 2 runs in the first and 3 in the second against Brenna Nation. The Terps clawed back with runs in the third, fourth and fifth to cut their defecit to 5-4. But with two outs in the fifth and the tying run on third, Sarah Calta lined out to first base. After Alabama tacked on 2 more runs in the bottom of the frame, Lindsey Schmeiser responded with a solo homer in the top of the 6th. It was her 31st career home run, the new program record. The Terps trailed 7-5 halfway through the sixth, but Alabama pulled away with 3 more runs in the bottom of the frame.
1. Lindsey Schmeiser is Maryland’s new all-time leader in career home runs. Her sixth-inning blast on Sunday passed Shannon Bustillos for the Maryland record. However, she said she didn’t realize her accomplishment before it was announced; she was focused on the game at hand, in which the Terps had cut their deficit against Alabama to 2 runs. Schmeiser hit the homer with two strikes against one of the nation’s best pitchers in Alexis Osorio, which head coach Julie Wright said “adds to how special her record really is.” The senior already has 4 homers in 10 games thus far, so look for her to extend the record over the rest of the season.
2. Skylynne Ellazar and Kristina Dillard stayed hot. Both players went 6 of 16 (.375) to tie for the highest average in the tournament. They were the only two Terps to record a hit in each of the 5 games. Going back to last weekend at the Kajikawa Classic, both players are riding 9-game hitting streaks.
3. Destiney Henderson shined in Saturday’s win. The sophomore right fielder went 3 for 5 and poked the game-winning single to left field against Mercer. It was Maryland’s only 3-hit performance this weekend. She hit leadoff all tournament after staying at the very bottom of the order in Arizona.
1. Brenna Nation is now 0-6. The junior has started 6 games and been charged with the loss in all of them. She hasn’t exactly been awful, as her 5.62 ERA would have been second on the team last season. However, she’s been slotted as the Terps’ ace, and she’s not an ace. She pitches to contact, which is less effective in softball than it is in baseball because so many slapped grounders become base hits. Nation didn’t strike out a single batter in her last two outings this weekend, but she walked 7. Of course, a pitcher’s win-loss record doesn’t tell the whole story, but it is often the first stat brought up at the mention of their name. And 0-6 isn’t a good first impression.
2. The Terps’ defense wasn’t sharp, and their opponents capitalized. Maryland committed 6 errors this weekend, which led to 3 unearned runs. The only runner to score in the first Alabama game reached on a Hannah Dewey error. A miscue by Schmeiser started Georgia State’s seventh-inning rally. Errors obviously weren’t the sole reason the Terps lost those two Friday games, but they never help.
3. The senior middle infielders weren’t the offensive forces we’ve come to expect. Schmeiser hit two homers, but had just a single hit in her other 15 at-bats. Meanwhile, second baseman Corey Schwartz was just 3 for 14 (.214) in the tournament. Both will look to make adjustments in practice this week.
The Terps, now 3-7, will travel to the Florida Atlantic tournament in Boca Raton, Fla. this weekend. They will play Boston University and Columbia on Friday, Stony Brook and host Florida Atlantic on Saturday, and Columbia again on Sunday. Maryland won’t square off against any powerhouse programs, although FAU is in the poll purgatory of “others receiving votes.”
Destiney Henderson on her clutch single against Mercer: “[With the infield playing in,] Coach told me to find the gap, and I just found the gap between short and third. It’s really the same as I’ve been doing all year.”