With no outs in the seventh inning Saturday against No. 18 Michigan, Maryland softball pitcher Hannah Dewey allowed an RBI double that trimmed the Terps’ lead to one. So, pitching coach Lisa Norris walked to the circle to talk to Dewey and catcher Kristina Dillard.
Dewey held Michigan scoreless through six innings and allowed just two hits before giving up the double. But a walk to the next batter put the Wolverines’ winning run on base, causing coach Julie Wright to remove Dewey from the game.
Madison Martin allowed a single in relief, but outfielder Destiney Henderson threw out the potential game-tying run at the plate. When Martin induced an inning-ending groundout to seal Maryland’s 2-1 win, she walked off the mound and smiled.
“How about that?” Wright said of Martin’s performance. “She is very steady-eddy. We don’t ever worry about her emotions getting the best of her. … She did some really good work on her mechanics this week, and she felt very confident coming into this game.”
Maryland’s pitching staff, meanwhile, credited the defense for the upset victory. In the seventh, Henderson set up her outfield assist with a veteran move. As she charged the bloop single to right, she leaned down to make the runner rounding third think she would make the catch.
The savvy fake slowed down the Wolverines baserunner and enabled Henderson to record the out at the plate.
“Defense was awesome today,” Dewey said. “That alone for a pitcher helps. You don’t feel afraid to pitch to your defense. … I’m not necessarily a strikeout kind of pitcher. I use my defense, I get ground balls. It’s really, really nice to see them execute the plays.”
With the win, the Terps (9-29-1, 2-9 Big Ten) have now registered three top-25 victories this season. Plus, they won their first tilt against Michigan (30-9-1, 10-2) since joining the Big Ten.
During practice this week, coach Julie Wright stressed the need for “team softball” against the Wolverines. In particular, she emphasized the importance of productive outs.
In the first inning, infielder Juli Strange led off with a double to left field. Outfielder Amanda Brashear moved Strange to third with a groundout, and infielder Anna Kufta shortened her swing with two strikes to poke a run-scoring single to right field, her 17th RBI of the year.
Michigan pitcher Tera Blanco tossed three scoreless innings before Strange hit her second home run of the season to center field, giving the Terps a 2-0 lead in the fifth.
“[The home run] gave us a little bit of insurance,” Strange said. “It really couldn’t have come at a better time, I don’t think. We believe we can win the game, but when you get insurance that belief just builds from there.”
Pitching with a slim advantage, Dewey handled the typically explosive Wolverines. They entered the contest ranked 23rd in the nation in batting average (.318) and 28th in scoring per game (5.92). On Saturday, though, Dewey held them to a pair hits through six frames before faltering in the seventh.
But Martin recorded the final three outs to complete Maryland’s second Big Ten win. The triumph came in front of 1,015 fans, a Maryland Softball Stadium attendance record.
“Without [the fans] today, I don’t know if we would’ve won that game,” Wright said. “I was just so excited to have such a great fanbase here. They were just tremendous, they brought us a lot of energy.”