It was the fifth inning, and Maryland softball was one run shy of finishing the game early. The Terps were ahead of Michigan State by seven and sought revenge after a game one loss.
Taylor Liguori took the plate looking to end it for the Spartans. And with one swing of the bat, she did.
Ruby Butler took off from third. She crossed the plate and finished the game in five innings, earning Maryland its first mercy-rule victory, 9-1. The victory, paired with a 2-0 loss earlier in the day, helped the Terps split yet another doubleheader.
Maryland got on the board early in the nightcap, with Jaeda McFarland scoring from third on a fielder’s choice in the first frame.
And in the third, McFarland helped break the game open for the Terps.
With JoJo McRae on, McFarland smoked a triple into right field. McFarland scored McRae and put herself in scoring position for Taylor Okada.
And Okada delivered, slapping a double into left center field to send McFarland home.
[Maryland softball is slowly building toward a home series win]
Trinity Schlotterbeck stepped into the batter’s box two batters later, looking to continue the offensive streak.
She knocked a hit into the infield and Okada sprinted down the basepaths. Shlotterbeck was eventually thrown out, but not before scoring Okada and advancing Campbell Kline into third base.
Kline soon came around to join the scoring party. Regan Kerr crushed a triple into right field, scoring Kline and securing a four-run inning for the Terps.
Maryland’s bats stayed alive for the rest of the game. Okada singled into left field and scored McRae and McFarland again to put the Terps ahead by six in the bottom of the fourth.
And the contest came to a close in the fifth. Butler scorched a triple into right field to score Kerr. Liguori batted Butler in on the next at-bat to send Maryland home happy with a 9-1 win.
Early in game one, though, Courtney Wyche wasn’t hitting her target. She uncorked a wild pitch and saw another ball get past catcher Katie Dustin, and the Spartans sent two runners home in the first inning.
Then, Wyche hit her stride. She puzzled Michigan State’s batters, surrendering no hits or runs after that first frame.
[Maeve Nelson powers Northwestern past Maryland softball, 9-4]
But the Terps struggled to get past Spartans ace Ashley Miller, who shut down each of Maryland’s comeback chances.
In the second inning, Kerr stepped into the batter’s box with two outs. She crushed a double to left field to put herself into scoring position for Michaela Jones. But Jones couldn’t make something of the chance, grounding out to third base.
In the third, McFarland and Okada stood in scoring position for Kline. But her looping pop fly to shallow left-center was snagged by a diving Joanna Bartz, saving the lead for Michigan State.
That was as close as Maryland would get. Miller stepped out of the circle in the sixth inning with six strikeouts and just three hits allowed, keeping the Terps off the board.
After an hour-long weather delay, Sarah Ladd came in and finished off Maryland. She worked around two baserunners in each of the final two innings, sealing a 2-0 Spartans win.
But the Terps responded with vengeance, running away with the second game to leave the Maryland Softball Complex with momentum for Saturday’s doubleheader.