It was tied at one in the fifth inning. Maryland softball was playing a close game against Michigan, the leaders in the Big Ten.
Until Sierra Kersten took the plate for the Wolverines. Kersten doubled into left field. Lexie Blair singled to the right to advance her to third. Natalia Rodriguez grounded out to third to push Blair into scoring position next to Kersten.
And Lou Allan hit them both home, singling up the middle to score both Kersten and Blair.
No. 22 Michigan would bring one more run across in the frame, carrying that mini-outburst to a doubleheader sweep of Maryland, 2-0 and 5-1. The Terps fell twice on Saturday due to the Wolverines’ dominant pitching.
In the first contest of the day, Maryland stared down the Big Ten’s most intimidating pitcher. Alex Storako entered Saturday with a 0.47 ERA, 140 strikeouts and 11 wins, each figure leading the conference.
While they couldn’t secure a win, the Terps made contact against Storako. Maryland had three hits to Michigan’s five. But after the first inning, Storako and the Wolverines hit their stride. From the second to the sixth inning, Storako retired 15 consecutive batters.
The only runs of the first contest came in the second frame.
[Early home run not enough for Maryland softball in 4-2 loss to No. 22 Michigan]
Lauren Esman sent a double deep into the left gap, just out of the range of Jaeda McFarland and Campbell Kline. After moving to third on a bunt, Taylor Bump smoked a double off the right field fence to plate Esman and give Michigan a lead.
Then, Blair bounced a single to the left side of the infield. It bounced off Ruby Butler’s glove and into shallow left field, allowing Bump to score from second.
After those fumbles, Courtney Wyche and the Terps shut down the Wolverines, holding them to just two runs. But Maryland couldn’t score, eventually dropping the contest, 2-0.
In the second game, though, the Terps were able to get ahead of Meghan Beaubien early. In the second inning, Beaubien gave up a rare walk that sent Butler to first. Taylor Liguori then smoked a single to right, allowing Butler to reach third.
Michaela Jones then pinch-ran for Liguori and was ready to steal. She took a chance and ran to second. But Michigan catcher Hannah Carson caught her.
Carson hurled the ball to Rodriguez, and Jones was caught in a rundown. But Butler used that distraction to run home and give Maryland the game’s first score.
[Maryland softball showcased its potential in series win over Michigan State]
In the first two innings, Beaubien fired 40 pitches compared to Trinity Schlotterbeck’s 17 pitches. But the Terps couldn’t hold onto their lead.
In the third inning, Bump ripped a home run over the right-center field fence and into the bleachers, tying the contest at one. And in the fifth inning, the Wolverines took control.
With two runners in scoring position and one out, Allan knocked a hard single up the middle, bringing Kersten and Blair home to send Michigan in front for good.
And the Wolverines weren’t done. Julia Jimenez grounded a ball to Butler, who launched the ball to first baseman Regan Kerr. But her throw sank to the ground, allowing Jimenez to reach safely and another run to score on the error.
In the sixth, Michigan extended its lead again. Haley Ellefson walked Thais Gonzalez, putting a runner on for Blair.
She laced the ball into the right field corner, sending Gonzalez sprinting around the basepaths. JoJo McRae fired it to Gracie Voulgaris at the plate, who went for the tag. But Gonzalez dove and tapped the plate with her hand under Voulgaris’ arm, giving the Wolverines their decisive 5-1 edge and sealing a doubleheader sweep.