Following competitive losses to Clemson and Pittsburgh in its first two games of the Big Ten/ACC Challenge, Maryland softball was afforded another shot at the Tigers in its third matchup.
But the Terps went on to suffer their worst loss of the season in a 21-2 blowout defeat to Clemson — the team’s most runs allowed since March 2017.
In its first game of Saturday’s doubleheader, Maryland fell behind early against Pittsburgh but quickly tied it up in an impressive two-inning comeback. Still, the Terps eventually lost their grip on the game and fell, 8-5.
Pittsburgh struck first in the opening inning, loading the bases after a double from outfielder Hunter Levesque, a walk for infielder LoLo Sanchez and a hit batter. Then, a walk for infielder Hope Alley pushed Levesque home to put the Panthers on top, 1-0.
Both Pittsburgh and Maryland had big second innings, scoring four runs apiece. Infielder Morgan Batesole walked, and Levesque followed with a single to advance Batesole to third. Sanchez walked and Batesole scored on a wild pitch, pushing the score to 2-0.
Pitcher Kiana Carr entered for pitcher Amelia Jarecke to try and stem the bleeding.
With Levesque and Sanchez on base, though, outfielder Katlyn Pavlick stepped up to the plate and smashed a three-run homer to make the score 5-0 in the second inning.
But Maryland was ready to retaliate. Infielder Taylor Okada opened with a single and was able to advance to second on a wild pitch by Pittsburgh’s Abby Edwards. Catcher Gracie Voulgaris walked, and outfielder Amanda Brashear singled to load the bases. The Terps’ scoring run began with infielder Regan Kerr reaching after being hit by a pitch, sending Okada home.
Maryland continued to take advantage, as outfielder Campbell Kline reached and sent Voulgaris home to make the score 5-2. Infielder Anna Kufta then singled to second base and Kerr and Brashear both scored to put Maryland back in the game at 5-4.
Pittsburgh turned to pitcher Brittany Knight to finish the game.
But the Terps didn’t go away, and a homer from Voulgaris — Maryland’s first this season — tied the game at five. Despite climbing back from the five-run deficit, the Terps’ failed to hold on.
They went scoreless the rest of the way while Pittsburgh kept its momentum.
Hannah Bach singled to shortstop and advanced on a passed ball and later scored on a single by Batesole. Pitcher Courtney Wyche replaced Carr, and Levesque singled down the left-field line, batting in Batesole and giving the Panthers their seventh run of the game — a lead they would ride to the game’s conclusion.
In the sixth, Kruger doubled to left field and advanced to third on a ground out by outfielder Connor McGaffic. Alley singled through the left side to bring Kruger home for Pittsburgh’s final run of the game.
Immediately after the 8-5 loss, the Terps took to the diamond again in the afternoon to play Clemson.
Freshman Trinity Schlotterbeck started on the mound for Maryland against the Tigers, looking to avenge her two previous starts in which she allowed a combined 15 hits and nine earned runs over eight innings.
But Clemson got to Schlotterbeck early, opening with a pair of singles from outfielder Grace Mattimore and infielder MK Bonamy. Designated player Marissa Guimbarda hammered her third home run of the season to put the Tigers up 3-0 early.
Clemson exploded in the second inning for 14 runs scored before the Terps could notch the second out. RBIs from Mattimore, outfielder Valerie Cagle and Bonamy added three runs to the board, making the score 6-0.
The second inning also saw two grand-slams, one apiece from outfielder Bailey Taylor and Cagle, which helped balloon the score to 17-0.
Maryland had three pitching changes during the second inning. Carr and Jarecke both stepped into the circle and Schlotterbeck took to the mound again to finish the inning.
In the second inning, Maryland coach Mark Montgomery was ejected for visiting the mound for a third time in the frame without making a lineup change.
In the third inning, Clemson struck again. Infielder Cammy Pereira batted Taylor in to make the score 18-0, Tigers. Cagle continued her streak of dominance, belting a three-run homer.
The Terps did not register a run until the fifth inning, when back-to-back RBI doubles from Kufta and Liguori ensured it wouldn’t be a shutout. Regardless, the game ended in the fifth inning in a 21-2 mercy-rule loss.
With the meager offensive output, poor pitching and five errors in five innings against the Tigers, Maryland struggled in all phases as its record dropped to 1-7 with Saturday’s doubleheader defeat.
The Terps play Pittsburgh again tomorrow morning in their last game of the ACC/Big 10 Challenge.