With Maryland softball clinging to a one-run lead in the fourth inning against UT-Martin, pitcher Sydney Golden was up for the challenge.
Golden had shut down the Skyhawks’ lineup all game, and she continued the trend by striking out the side to end the fourth frame and ensure the Terps held onto their 1-0 lead.
But while Golden hit her stride in the middle innings, the shutout quickly dissipated in the sixth frame with the Terps up 2-0. After Golden hit UT-Martin first baseman Gracyn McBride following a fielding error, coach Julie Wright swapped Amelia Jarecke into the circle with two runners on.
The freshman couldn’t get Maryland out of the jam, due in part to two walks and two wild pitches, and UT-Martin capitalized to take the game, 3-2. Though the Terps finished the Stetson Invitational 2-3, they were able to secure two wins Saturday through strong pitching and defense.
“Today, it was kind of a tough one to lose that game,” Wright said. “On Saturday, we played really well after struggling on Friday to finish some games, so I was pleased with that growth.”
The tournament was the final nonconference road test for the Terps, who will host the Maryland Invitational starting Thursday.
For most of the weekend, Maryland’s offense was lacking the power it had displayed early this season. Barring a four-run inning to start the game against Fairfield on Friday, offense did not come easy for the Terps.
“It will come back,” first baseman Taylor Wilson said. “I don’t think that’s something we are really concerned about. I think we still put together a pretty good offensive performance this weekend.”
Maryland (12-11) came into the weekend having pulled off a 10-run inning to crush UNC Greensboro at the Carolina Classic. Second baseman Taylor Okada was hitting a team-high .448, and shortstop Bailey Boyd and third baseman Anna Kufta weren’t far behind with .352 and .333 batting averages, respectively.
And though Okada notched two hits on Sunday, the leadoff hitter had struggled earlier in the tournament to get on base. On Friday against UT-Martin and Bethune-Cookman, Okada went 0-for-7 — a rarity for the freshman.
In both the fourth and sixth innings against the Skyhawks, the Terps had opportunities to break the game open in two-out, bases-loaded situations. But both times, the Terps stranded all three runners to end the inning empty-handed.
“We left a lot of people on base,” Wright said. “We’re going to focus on making sure that we clean up … When you have that many runners out there, you want to play them.”
Wilson went 3-for-3 with a single, a double and a solo homerun, which gave the Terps a 2-0 lead in the top of the sixth inning. But the sophomore’s impressive showing was not enough to propel the Terps to their third win of the tournament.
Maryland relied on its pitching for most of the Stetson Invitational to pull out narrow victories, including a 5-4 win over UT-Martin and a 3-2 win against Bethune-Cookman on Saturday.
“They kept us in a lot of ball games, so that we could tear our way out of some things or hit our way into a lead,” Wilson said. “They’re doing a really good job of giving us quick innings so we can get back in and hit.”
Pitcher Sami Main notched a career-high eight strikeouts in the Terps’ extra-inning loss to Stetson on Friday. Against Bethune-Cookman, she pitched a one-hit complete game.
“I was just staying relaxed,” Main said. “I knew I had my defense behind me, so it was just a matter of getting the girls behind me to get themselves out.”
The Maryland defense only had one error against the Skyhawks, an improvement from the four they had against Bethune-Cookman. But in the end, the Terps couldn’t shut down the UT-Martin comeback.
“It’s a little disappointing that we didn’t get more wins,” Main said, “but I think we’re in a good spot to keep moving forward and have a great season.”