With two UT-Martin runners on first and second and Maryland softball clinging to a 2-0 lead in the sixth inning Sunday, pitcher Amelia Jarecke stepped into the circle for Sydney Golden, who had surrendered just two hits in 5 ⅓ frames up to that point.
On her first batter, Jarecke threw a wild pitch that advanced the runners to second and third base. The pitching miscues didn’t end for the freshman, as she walked two straight batters, leading to the first of three unearned runs that gave the Skyhawks the lead.
The Terps were unable to reclaim the edge at the plate and dropped their final game of the Stetson Invitational, 3-2, to UT-Martin.
The pitching miscues and an inability to drive in baserunners throughout the tournament proved to be Maryland’s downfall en route to a 2-3 record on the weekend. But despite the disappointing showing, confidence is high among players and coach Julie Wright ahead of the Maryland Invitational starting Thursday, the team’s first home tournament this year.
“We just had a couple games that just didn’t fall our way,” Wright said. “I’m really not worried about that at all. We’ll just do the things that we’ve been doing and try to stay tight on defense.”
[Read more: Maryland softball falls to UT-Martin, 3-2, to close Stetson Invitational]
Maryland’s hitters have consistently been the focal point of the young team, notably infielder Taylor Okada in the leadoff position. The freshman, who leads the team with a .417 batting average, has consistently reached base this season to provide opportunities for her teammates.
But Okada failed to record a hit Friday against Fairfield or Stetson, and the Terps fell in both games.
Maryland managed just two runs Sunday despite outhitting the Skyhawks 7-2, and the meager production wasn’t enough to keep UT-Martin at bay. Even so, it was just a small bump in the road for the Terps.
“We still put together a pretty good offensive performance this weekend,” infielder Taylor Wilson said. “That’s not something we’re really concerned about.”
Wilson, who went 3-for-3 against the Skyhawks on Sunday, believes that the Terps’ firepower will return in time for their home opener against UMBC on Thursday — and so does Wright.
“This team has a lot of confidence hitting,” Wright said. “They just feel like they’re going to get it done. They don’t ever really feel out of a game.”
[Read more: Maryland softball bounces back with 2-0 day against UT-Martin, Bethune-Cookman]
Throughout the tournament, the Terps struggled with leaving runners on base. In five games, Maryland stranded 29 runners, and in the squad’s final matchup with UT-Martin, it left nine on base.
Wright will work with her team to clean up that aspect of their game in the hopes of capitalizing on hitters like Okada, who consistently gets on base. Maryland had chances in the fourth and sixth innings against UT-Martin to extend its lead, but left the bases loaded both times.
The mistakes were evident on the mound as well. Pitcher Sami Main struck out eight Stetson batters Friday, but watched the Hatters score a run in the eighth inning for a walk-off 6-5 win. She wants to work on limiting her walks after allowing eight against Stetson.
The flurry of miscues and missed opportunities contributed to three one-run losses on the weekend, but Maryland is hardly worried it will carry over into their first home game of the year.
“I don’t foresee that being an issue in the future,” Main said. “I think we just need to clear up our defense and keep attacking offensively and have no mercy with that.”