Maryland softball was in a jam for the second time against Ohio State on Sunday afternoon. But the squad didn’t get out of it this time.
With Lindsey Potter on third and Mariah Rodriguez on second, Courtney Wyche hurled a pitch that got away from catcher Katie Dustin. Potter made it to the plate before Dustin got control of the ball and Rodriguez reached third.
After a single from Tegan Cortelletti, Meggie Otte popped up to the infield and shortstop Ruby Butler ran to get under it. She misjudged the drop and the ball hit the ground. Rodriguez dashed from third and crossed the plate for Ohio State’s fourth run of the day.
With Cortelletti and Otte on base, Niki Carver smoked a three-run homer over the center field fence to clear the bases. There was still just one out against the Buckeyes.
Later on in the fourth frame, Ashley Prange scored on a single by Katilyn Coffman. The Buckeyes had a six-run inning, and the Terps couldn’t bounce back.
“When you start finding yourself down two or three or four runs, pressure starts to come into play,” said head coach Mark Montgomery. “It makes playing defense tougher. It makes hitting tougher. It makes all of it tougher, and we’ve got to figure out how to not let that affect us.”
The Buckeyes asserted themselves in the first frame. With Carver on base, Prange doubled to left center to put both runners in scoring position.
Wyche fired a high pitch to Dustin at the plate. Dustin jumped and reached to control the ball, but it deflected off of her glove, and Carver took off toward home.
Wyche ran up to cover the plate, but Carver reached it first, putting the Buckeyes on the board early in the contest.
“I think it was, unfortunately, defense that allowed their offense to get better,” said Montgomery. “Then that puts pressure on your offense because now you’re trying to hit a five-run homer with nobody on base.”
Micaela Abbatine quickly answered back for the Terps, though.
Abbatine singled through the left gap, and Dustin followed her at the plate. Dustin hit a bouncing single to the infield, and shortstop Carley dove to cover second. The ball bounced off of her glove and rolled into the outfield, Abbatine took advantage. She sprinted from first and rounded second to put herself on third.
At first base, Dustin was taking huge leads. She was nearly thrown out on her first attempted steal and was forced back to first. On the next pitch, Dustin extended her lead and got caught between the bases.
Before Dustin was tagged, Abbatine saw her chance. She took off to the plate and slid home to tie the game for the Terps.
The Terps were in a jam in the third inning. Rodriguez scored on a single by Otte to take back the lead for the Buckeyes. Later in the frame, the bases were loaded with only one out, and the pressure was on for Wyche.
Sam Hackenbrecht popped up to the infield, and Regan Kerr caught the ball to give them their second out with the bases still loaded.
Coffman stepped into the batter’s box looking to clear the bases. And she came close. Coffman crushed the ball to deep center field, but Jaeda McFarland got under it and got the Terps out of a dangerous situation.
After the fourth-inning explosion from the Buckeyes offense, they struck again in the fifth. Rodriguez reached on a bobbled ball by Taylor Okada. She advanced to second on a ground out by Cortelletti.
Otte stepped into the batter’s box. She knocked a single into right field and hit Rodriguez home to finish the game at 9-1 in the fifth inning.
This is the second consecutive mercy-rule concession for the Terps. They’re hoping to regain positive momentum when they play in College Park for the first time next weekend.
“I think we’re all excited about being at home playing in front of. . . friends and family,” Montgomery said, “getting the chance to play where we practice, where we know the nuances of the field. . . I think that’ll be a great atmosphere.”