In the first two games of its weekend series, Ohio State bashed the Maryland softball team with a deluge of extra-base hits, slugging to a pair of dominant victories.
On Sunday, Terps starting pitcher Ryan Denhart prevented the Buckeyes from another such outburst, allowing just four hits and one double.
Still, Ohio State capitalized on its opportunities, going 3-for-8 with runners in scoring position and scoring three runs in the fifth inning to sweep the series with a 5-2 win.
“Ryan and [pitching coach Tori Tyson] made some adjustments, and her pitches were much sharper and through the zone,” coach Julie Wright said. “She also worked more down in the zone than she did on Friday.”
The teams entered the bottom of the fifth tied at two, but Denhart allowed the first two batters of the frame to reach, and Wright replaced her with right-hander Sydney Golden.
Golden gave up RBI doubles to each of the two batters she faced. With her team suddenly trailing by three runs, Wright went back to Denhart, who got the final six outs without incident.
“[Denhart] was able to adjust physically from Friday to do what she needed to do with all of her pitches,” catcher Anna Kufta said.
Denhart held the Buckeyes scoreless through three innings Sunday, but they broke through for two runs in the fourth on a double by catcher Becca Gavin.
The Terps struck back in the fifth. With two outs and two on, third baseman Brigette Nordberg missed a home run by about a foot, tying the game with a two-run double off the wall in right-center field.
In the next half inning, though, the Buckeyes took the lead for good with the doubles off Golden.
Despite being swept, the Terps had an offensive rebound against the Buckeyes. After scoring just nine runs in the last three weekend series combined, Maryland plated 12 runs against the Buckeyes.
“We were attacking pitches on the plate and getting ahead in the count,” Kufta said. “We were getting our pitches and doing something with them.”
The Terps have lost six consecutive games, having been swept in each of their last four weekend series and been run-ruled at least once each of those weekends. The last two games were their closest Big Ten losses.
“We’re a young team, so when you suffer some losses, at time you can mentally break,” Wright said. “Now they’re seeing they are capable of winning any game at any time. They’re fighters, and I think they’re starting to really own that identity.”