Coach Julie Wright said before the Maryland softball team’s season opener that Anna Kufta would emerge as one of the leaders this spring. The junior infielder quickly lived up to the billing in the Terps’ doubleheader Friday.
Kufta’s two hits and two runs against Murray State in the first game propelled Maryland past the Racers, 6-3, and her late home run against Troy in the nightcap brought the Terps within one run after the Trojans put together a four-run fifth inning.
The Terps could not overcome the deficit, though, falling to Troy, 4-3, and splitting opening day.
While the Terps’ offense erupted for 13 hits in game one and mustered just six in the second outing, both matchups featured a mid-game pitching change.
Facing Murray State, Maryland was winning 4-2 in the bottom of the fourth inning, but the Racers had runners on second and third base with no outs. When outfielder Lillie Goetz singled through the right side — one of her two hits — Murray State drew within one run.
So, the Terps opted for a pitching change with the Racers still threatening. Redshirt sophomore Victoria Galvan, a South Carolina transfer, swapped in for senior Sami Main in the bottom of the fourth, and immediately got her first strikeout as a Terp.
The switch made an immediate impact, as Galvan only allowed two hits for the remainder of the game.
And the Terps offense was on a roll in the season opener from the first inning.
Third in the batting order, Kufta’s first hit was good for a double and got the Terps off to a much-needed fast start. The next two hitters — catcher Gracie Voulgaris with a single and infielder Sammie Stefan with a home run — gave Maryland an early 3-0 lead.
Kufta would go on to get her second hit of the game in the top of the third inning and got her second run off a single from senior infielder Bailey Boyd after stealing second base. Kufta also had a sacrifice flyout in the fifth inning that helped bring sophomore outfielder JoJo McRae home and give the Terps a 5-3 lead.
Kufta was not the only Terp with a multiple-hit game, as freshman infielder Taylor Okada and Voulgaris each had two hits in their first-career games.
Senior Sydney Golden took the circle to begin the second game, and her outing was spotless for most of the time. Then, the fifth inning rolled around, and suddenly Troy’s hitters came to life. With runners on first and third base, a single from infielder Bailey Taylor brought one runner in to take a 1-0 lead.
Just two hitters later, Golden surrendered a double that brought in three more runners.
The Terps turned to Kiana Carr, the junior transfer from Phoenix Community College, in the bottom of the fifth.
Okada and junior outfielder Amanda Brashear both hit key singles in the sixth inning against Troy, setting the stage for Kufta’s three-run homer that kept the game close. And while Carr did not give up any more hits or runs in the circle, the Terps were unable to complete the comeback, splitting Friday’s season-opening doubleheader.
The Terps will be back in action Saturday at 10 a.m. to face Alabama, followed by a rematch with Troy at 4 p.m.