Maryland softball goes above .500 with 4-1 weekend at Panther Invitational

Outfielder Micaela Abbatine puts a ball in play for Maryland softball against Penn State in April 2019. (Julia Nikhinson/The Diamondback)

Maryland went 4-1 this weekend at the Panther Invitational, taking down Ball State, Tulsa, Florida International and Samford.

Maryland fell only once this weekend after Tulsa had a big first inning and the Terps were unable to claim a lead. Maryland’s offense had 24 runs on the weekend while only allowing 10 on defense. And after beating Samford, the Terps had a 12-11 record with their wins surpassing their losses for the first time this season.

“All three elements of the game have gotten better,” coach Mark Montgomery said. “We’ve gotten better pitching, we’re playing better defense, and we’ve hit the ball a little better. … When you get all three elements on the field, it’s hard to beat.”

Friday – Maryland, 3 | Ball State, 0

In the first inning, with infielders Regan Kerr, Taylor Okada and Anna Kufta on base, infielder Taylor Liguori singled to center and brought Kerr home for the first run of the game.

[Read more: Back in her home state, Regan Kerr came through at the plate for Maryland softball]

The Terps scored again in the third frame. With Liguori and infielder Sammie Stefan on second and first, outfielder Amanda Brashear reached on an error by Cardinals infielder Haley Wynn. Liguori was able to score on the error, making the score 2-0. Stefan made it home on an error by Cardinals catcher Delanie Johnson, putting the Terps further ahead, 3-0 — a lead they would ride to the finish line.

Friday – Tulsa, 4 | Maryland, 0

Later on Friday afternoon, the Terps took on Tulsa but couldn’t come away with a win despite out-hitting the Golden Hurricanes, 7-6.

Tulsa scored all four of its runs in the first inning. Outfielder Mikayla Whitten singled followed by a triple from outfielder Kari Briggs to send Whitten home and put the Golden Hurricanes on the board, 1-0.

Infielder Alexis Perry brought Briggs home with a single to left field to push Tulsa’s lead to 2-0. Perry advanced to second on a wild pitch, infielder Sarah Briers tripled to the right side and Perry scored. Tulsa’s final run of the game came when infielder Aubree Seaney was thrown out at first base and Briers was able to score on the play. Maryland failed to generate a run in the affair as Tulsa won, 4-0.

“Sometimes the ball finds some holes and we just found ourselves down, and unfortunately it makes you play a little different. You’re playing for a big inning instead of manufacturing a run here or there, so I think it’s just unfortunate that we fell down for nothing,” Montgomery said.

Saturday – Maryland, 5 | Tulsa, 0

After losing to Tulsa on Friday, the Terps got revenge in their second matchup of the series on Saturday.

Maryland struck early in the first frame. A single from Kerr followed by a steal and a passed ball put her on third, and she was sent home by Kufta for the Terps’ first run of the day.

[Read more: Maryland softball’s Taylor Okada is back from injury and ready to make an impact]

In the third, outfielder Campbell Kline reached on a fielder’s choice and stole second and advanced to third on a throwing error by Hurricanes shortstop Kylie Norwood. Outfielder Micaela Abbatine reached on a fielder’s choice, sending Kline home to double Maryland’s lead.

The Terps padded their lead in the sixth, with Jojo McRae, Shelby Younkin, and Grace Voulgaris coming in to score.

And pitcher Trinity Schlotterbeck shut the door, notching her fifth win of the season after pitching a complete-game one-hitter.

Saturday – Maryland, 5 | Florida International, 3

Kerr singled in the first and stole second, and when Okada reached on an error, Kerr came home to give Maryland an early edge. Okada would soon come around herself, courtesy of a Liguori sacrifice fly.

The Panthers also scored in the first — infielder Jocelyn Alonso batted in outfielder Alexis Johns to put the Panthers on the board.

In the second, with Brashear, Kline and Abbatine on base, Kerr singled and batted Brashear in. Kerr was caught stealing shortly thereafter, but Kline scored on the throw.

In the fifth, Kerr scored the Terps’ final run of the day after a double followed by a throwing error by Panthers catcher Annmarie Cooker.

The Panthers scored again in the fifth as well, but could not make up their deficit, Maryland toppling them 5-3.

Sunday – Maryland, 11 | Samford, 3

The Terps played Samford in their final game of the Panther Invitational on Sunday afternoon.

In the first, Okada singled and advanced to second on a throwing error by outfielder Maddie Dorsett. Okada stole third and made it home on a sacrifice fly by Kufta.

Samford established a lead in the bottom of the first. Infielder Whitney Hinton singled up the middle and infielder Timberlyn Shurbutt doubled down the left-field line, sending Hinton home to put the Bulldogs on the board. The Bulldogs pulled ahead when catcher Kathryn Jackson singled to right field and Shurbutt was able to score. Samford led 2-1 in the bottom of the first.

In the second, with Brashear, Kline and catcher Katie Dustin on base, Kerr doubled to left-center to put Maryland back in front at 4-2.

The Bulldogs struck again in the third with Hinton homering to pull them closer, 4-3. But they couldn’t regain a lead, and Maryland’s bats came alive.

In the fourth, Abbatine came in for Dustin on the basepaths, scoring on an Okada walk with the bases loaded. Then, Kufta singled home McRae to push Maryland’s advantage to three.

Younkin doubled down the left-field line, batting Okada and Kufta in to make the score 8-3, Terps.

And the Terps padded their lead in the fifth, with Kline, Hinton, and Kerr coming in to secure a run-rule victory, 11-3.

Kerr shined this weekend with eight hits, five runs and four RBI.

“Regan Kerr, probably her second impressive weekend in a row, she’s done a really good job, especially in the leadoff spot for us,” said Montgomery.

Maryland will play close to home next weekend at the Cherry Blossom Classic in Fairfax, Virginia.

Conference play begins on March 19 in Iowa against the Hawkeyes, and Montgomery believes they’re ready.

“We’re really excited about the challenge and the opportunity,” Montgomery said. “The kids have really performed well and I think they’re excited about what lies ahead.”

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