For the second game in a row, infielder Taylor Okada started the Maryland softball team with a bang against Portland State on Sunday.
Just as she did Saturday against UC Riverside, the freshman led off with a triple and scored later in the inning. Unlike against the Highlanders, though, the Terps kept their momentum from their early advantage.
Maryland opened a 10-run lead over the first four innings and withstood a huge comeback attempt from the Vikings to secure a 12-9 win, avenge an earlier loss to Portland State and earn a winning weekend.
“[Okada] is one of those kids you don’t come across very often because she’s just this quiet, confident hitter,” hitting coach Vicky Galasso said. “She knows exactly what she needs to do to get on base, mixes it up whenever she wants, and it’s really fun to watch her and her process.”
On Saturday, Okada’s first-inning run was immediately answered with three runs from UC Riverside in the bottom of the inning, and Maryland went on to lose, 7-2.
But in their rematch with the Vikings on Sunday, the Terps hitters could not be stopped.
Okada continued her success at the plate against Portland State, going 3-for-4 and scoring twice, and shortstop Bailey Boyd hit 3-for-3 and scored three runs. The Terps scored 11 runs in the first four innings, led by a four-run third.
Maryland had dropped a 13-8 game to the Vikings on Friday, and after Portland State scored four runs apiece in the fifth and sixth innings Sunday, suddenly the Terps were in danger of another loss in a high-scoring affair. Instead, pitcher Sami Main put the Vikings down quickly in the seventh to slam the door.
Okada’s RBI single in the second inning pushed Maryland’s lead to 4-0, and in the third inning, a three-run homer from catcher Gracie Voulgaris and a single from infielder Regan Kerr made it 8-0.
“When we get momentum with runners on base, we’re a very good, high-energy team,” Galasso said. “We just get more excited, more confident, and we just get the ball rolling with those big innings.”
After the Vikings got on the board in the top of the fourth, Anna Kufta hit a two-run double and came around to score in the bottom of the inning to make it an 11-1 game.
In her third start of the tournament, pitcher Sydney Golden had held the Vikings to one run through four innings. But their bats came alive for four runs in the fifth frame, cutting the lead to 11-6.
“We tried to stay calm and collected and just play our game,” Stefan said. “We knew that we were able to hit off what they were giving us, so it was just trying to stay confident and get more runs to win the game.”
Main entered in the sixth and allowed four more, and Maryland’s lead was down to two runs. A triple from Voulgaris in the bottom of the sixth scored Boyd and provided some insurance, and Main threw a 1-2-3 seventh inning to secure the win.
Maryland moved to 9-6 on the season after a 3-2 weekend in California. The tournament put on display what can be a high-powered offense, often facilitated through Okada. But with an inexperienced roster, the two losses by a combined 10 runs show additional room for growth.
“As a team, we learned that winning takes a lot more than what some of us thought,” Golden said. “As a young team, there’s a lot that we still need to improve on even though we did win a lot last weekend.”