Entering the fourth inning tied Sunday, momentum seemed to be shifting in Maryland softball’s favor. After plating a run to take the lead, the Terps were threatening with two runners on, forcing Michigan State to make a pitching change.
But with no outs, right-hander Jordan Watson entered and was up for the challenge. She pitched her team out of the jam and set her offense up for a seven-run fourth inning — partly due to two Terps errors.
Michigan State’s fourth-inning onslaught was too much for the Terps to overcome, and the Spartans captured the series with an 11-3 win in five innings, as pitcher Sami Main — the third Maryland pitcher of the game — walked three batters in ⅓ inning to close out the weekend.
“It just wasn’t necessarily going our way,” catcher Gracie Voulgaris said. “Later in the game, we did pick it up offensively. I just think the game cut us short.”
The Terps struck first as they did in the previous two games, as center fielder JoJo McRae scored on third baseman Anna Kufta’s 39th RBI of the seson. But the Spartans answered right back. With two outs, Michigan State first baseman MacKenzie Meech doubled before a two-run homer from left fielder Ebonee Echols put the Spartans up 2-1.
Despite giving up a big first inning, pitcher Sydney Golden recovered quickly. The senior walked two hitters in the bottom of the second but kept Michigan State off the board through the third. The Terps tied the game at two in the top of the third after Kufta scored on a Michigan State throwing error.
Maryland briefly regained the lead in the top of the fourth before its collapse in the bottom half. Voulgaris led off with a single, then first baseman Taylor Wilson hit an RBI double to send her home. The Terps forced a pitching change after Alli Walker walked left fielder Micaela Abbatine, but Watson entered the circle and immediately shut down the Maryland offense.
Shortstop Caitie Ladd led off the inning with a double to left center — the first of six Michigan State hits. A double from third baseman Kaitlyn Eveland was just out of reach of McRae’s glove and sent Ladd home. Then, an errant throw on an Eveland steal attempt allowed Michigan State to take a 4-3 lead, which they wouldn’t surrender as the Terps’ mistakes began to mount.
“We did have a few errors, and those do build up,” McRae said. “It just happens sometimes.”
After second baseman Melanie Baccay singled home another two Michigan State runs to go up 6-3, coach Julie Wright put Kiana Carr in the circle to try and stymie the Spartans’ momentum.
Carr, however, had no such luck, and Echols closed out the Spartans’ seven-run rally with her second two-run homer of the day.
“[Michigan State] had some big hitters,” Voulgaris said. “Defensively, I don’t think we had a bad weekend, I just think we needed to not allow their quick runners to get the next bag, because they’re an aggressive team.”
The Terps, unable to chip away at the Spartans’ six-run lead, had one last chance to stay in the game with Main headed to the mound after Carr walked two in a row.
Maryland got one out on a sacrifice bunt, but three straight walks from Main — two of which plated runs — ended any hope of a comeback.
“They had a big inning and we didn’t get to play the full game [today],” shortstop Bailey Boyd said. “So it’s just tough to come back offensively in that situation. We just need to have better at-bats and slow the game down.”