Maryland softball played its first home games of the 2016 season at the Maryland Invitational, but the Terps went 0-3 in front of the home fans on a cold, rainy weekend. Here’s what you need to know.
The Terps had this game in the bag, up 4-0 through 5 innings. They scored a run in the third, two in the fourth and one in the fifth. But a great start from Hannah Dewey turned sour late. UMass scored a pair of runs in the sixth and loaded the bases with two outs, but Dewey got out of the jam. The seventh inning wasn’t so lucky. Thanks to two outfield errors and a pair of singles, the score was tied with no outs. Taylor Carbone drove in the go-ahead run with a sacrifice fly, and in a flash, Maryland was trailing 5-4. The Terps went down in order in the "dead man walking" bottom of the seventh.
Putting the collapse against UMass in the rearview mirror was easier said than done. North Dakota State systematically dismantled Brenna Nation and the Terps, scoring two runs in the first, second, fourth, fifth, and sixth. Shortstop Logan Moreland was the ringleader, going 3-for-3 with 2 RBIs and 3 runs scored. Maryland’s only run came in the bottom of the fifth on a Hannah Dewey RBI double. After that hit, the last four Terrapin hitters went down and the game ended early.
The Terps were slated to square off against Boston and Ball State, but both games were rained out. Some of the earlier games featuring other squads still finished, though.
Maryland struck first on Kristina Dillard’s two-run single in the bottom of the third, but the Bearcats responded with a rally of their own. With the bases loaded, one out and Nation on in relief of Dewey, freshman pinch hitter Makenzie Golumba laced a three-run triple down the right field line. Binghamton scored five in that inning, and added three more in the top of the fifth. Each team would tack on another run in the sixth, but Maryland never really threatened.
Bearcats pitcher Cara Martin recorded the complete-game victory, which disappointed Maryland coach Julie Wright.
"We were prepared for what she did," Wright said. "We worked the down change all week, so it was a lack of execution on our part."
No place like home
After 24 games in five weekend tournaments, the Terps finally played their first home games of the season. Of course, the weather was miserably cold, but there’s something to be said for sleeping in your own bed instead of a hotel, as well as playing in front of a pro-Maryland crowd.
I was finally able to attend a game on Sunday, as my spring break drew to a close this weekend. The Binghamton game wasn’t much fun to watch, but it was refreshing to experience the sights and sounds (and the relentless dugout banter) of a college game. It was also incredibly cold, and even the covered press box could only provide so much of a respite. But at least I didn’t have to play a meaningful game in these conditions.
"For outfield, [adjusting to the cold] is more about trying to take the time you have in between innings to really keep yourself warm, and keep your arm warm because you’re making long throws," junior right fielder Sarah Calta said. "So just focusing on that and staying moving between the pitches."
The box scores will show familiar strengths and weaknesses for the Terps. The pitchers weren’t able to put teams away, and the offense couldn’t turn a rally into a big inning. Not a lot of positives can come from an 0-3 showing against mid-majors at home.
Ready or not, it’s time for conference play! The Terps will visit Ohio State (currently in the "receiving votes" purgatory of the polls) for Friday, Saturday and Sunday contests. Friday's game will be televised on Big Ten Netwoek, while the last two games of the series can be streamed on BTN Plus.
"It’ll be nice because we’ll be preparing for one team all week," Wright said. "It’s a lot easier than preparing for four to five, so that will be the focus. It’s the start of the second season in a sense, because it’s the Big Ten, so we’re putting this first half behind us and we’ve gotta move forward."
Julie Wright, on the 7-20 start to the season:
"Inconsistent preparation and approach, not doing the little things you need to do to win ballgames. Plain and simple. We have to play the game a little bit cleaner, a little bit harder, and with a lot more passion."