Trailing Penn State 6-0 in the bottom of the third, Maryland softball again found itself in an early hole, needing a sign of life on offense to keep pace in game two of the doubleheader after dropping the first, 12-1.
The Terps hit back-to-back singles to lead off the inning, and after third baseman Anna Kufta walked to load the bases with one out, Maryland had its chance to climb back in it. A ground out from first baseman Taylor Wilson put one run on the board, and designated player Sammie Stefan drilled a two-RBI double to cut the Nittany Lions’ lead in half.
But it was all the Terps would muster.
The three-run rally fell far short, and Maryland’s chances of winning its first Big Ten series of the season slipped away with a 9-3 loss to cap the doubleheader sweep Saturday.
The Nittany Lions offense, which set the tone of the day with two runs on pitcher Sydney Golden in the first inning of game one, totaled 21 runs on the day to Maryland’s four runs.
The Terps answered back with Kufta’s solo homer in the bottom of the first, but her sixth blast of the season was Maryland’s only run of the game.
Golden kept the game close at 3-1 in the bottom of the third, forcing the Penn State to strand two runners. But soon after, Penn State’s offense caught fire.
Left fielder Toni Polk drove a leadoff double to right center, and later scored on a wild pitch and an off-target throw from catcher Gracie Voulgaris to third base. Another Maryland error — this time from second baseman Regan Kerr — allowed second baseman Claire Swedberg to reach first, before being driven in on an RBI single from right fielder Chelsea Bisi.
Right-hander Sami Main entered in relief for Golden after Penn State opened the 5-1 lead, but the senior could not stop the momentum. A two-run homer from first baseman Delaney Elling capped off the Nittany Lions’ five-run inning.
Though Main and the Maryland defense forced Penn State to go three up, three down the next two innings, the Terps’ offense was held in check by pitcher Kylee Lingenfelter. She notched five strikeouts while allowing two hits in five innings of relief.
In the final frame, the Nittany Lions scored two more on walks from Main, then sealed the 12-1 win with a two-RBI double from designated player Anna Deshaies.
Coach Julie Wright turned to redshirt freshman pitcher Victoria Galvan in the nightcap, but the Terps couldn’t buck the early woes in the circle.
Galvan immediately fell victim to Penn State’s firepower, giving up a leadoff homer to Polk. The Nittany Lions plated three runs off Galvan, prompting a pitching change. Kiana Carr entered the circle for the Terps, but after two straight walks, one leading to another run for Penn State charged to Galvan, Main entered as the third Terps pitcher in the inning.
Maryland fought back from a 6-0 deficit in the third inning with three runs, but Penn State’s offense extended its lead with an RBI single in the fourth and two RBI doubles in the sixth inning. The Terps generated only three more hits the rest of the way, resulting in the 9-3 loss.
Maryland will look to foil Penn State’s chances of a sweep in the series finale Sunday at 1 p.m.