Maryland softball lost eight of its first 11 games last season. Three of those losses were mercy-rule concessions.
In two of those blowouts, Trinity Schlotterbeck stood in the circle, getting whacked by the prolific bats of Texas and Clemson. After her squad’s eighth defeat, her ERA stood at 5.73.
But this season, Schlotterbeck is undefeated. She has shown confidence in commanding the spotlight, attacking hitters and relying on her teammates to pick her up.
And it’s worked. The Terps only allowed more than two runs once in the opening weekend, while Schlotterbeck sports a sterling 0.63 ERA.
“I definitely couldn’t have done it on my own, the defense was phenomenal,” she said. “I can’t ask for anything better than that as a pitcher.”
Maryland entered the offseason last year with two freshmen in the bullpen, including Schlotterbeck. Their youth showed up in the circle, inconsistencies in pitches and failures to limit big innings harming the Terps’ chances of winning.
But with a 50-week offseason, Schlotterbeck has had time to step up her game.
“Over quarantine, over summer, I was really working hard on our summer program, hitting the long toss, working on my spins, really just focusing on hitting my spots and mastering my different pitches,” she said.
Schlotterbeck put all of her efforts over the offseason into practice last weekend. She carried Maryland to three wins, firing 12 strikeouts over 22.1 innings. Schlotterbeck pitched all eight innings of the weekend’s final game against Wisconsin, finishing the contest with only one earned run allowed.
After a rough start to last season, Schlotterbeck had many mental hurdles to clear as a young player on the Big Ten stage.
“I just worked on my mental growth and everything that comes with pitching on the mental side,” Schlotterbeck said. “I really just worked on having confidence in myself and having confidence in my abilities.”
And her newfound contributions are helping a bolstered bullpen. Coach Mark Montgomery picked up Jennifer Brann and Haley Ellefson as transfers in the offseason.
They bring a new level of experience and depth to the young pitching staff.
“We’re all different types of pitchers,” Schlotterbeck said. “JB is a rise ball pitcher, Haley is a drop-ball, left-handed pitcher, Courtney [Wyche] throws 70, I throw low to mid 60s, so I think we all can bring each other different perspectives.”
Brann, a senior transfer from Penn, led the Ivy League in wins while finishing second in strikeouts and third in ERA in the conference last season.
Despite her success, Brann didn’t feel at home there.
“When looking to transfer for my last year, I wanted an opportunity to make an impact on a program,” Brann said. “After talking to coach and hearing more about the program and what he’s trying to do and turn this program around, I felt like I could make a big impact on this program from a pitching standpoint [and] a leadership point.”
And she did just that in her debut weekend as a Terp. Brann recorded 16 strikeouts and started in two games for Montgomery’s squad.
Schlotterbeck said having two more experienced pitchers in the bullpen has helped her grow and find success in the circle. And she hopes to carry that forward to even greater heights.
“I think we shocked a lot of people,” Schlotterbeck said. “I’m super excited to just work ahead and keep going and keep pushing.”