Maryland softball couldn’t have asked for a much better opening inning to its 2023 campaign. The Terps’ offense scored five first-inning runs, garnering serious momentum in their first game of the Puerto Vallarta College Challenge.
Maryland used its 5-0 lead in the first to secure a 7-3 upset win over No. 22 Oregon in their opening game of the season.
Senior Courtney Wyche took the pitching circle for the Terps fresh off a 14-7 record in her 2022 campaign, coupled with a career low 1.95 era.
Wyche also finished last season with 139 strikeouts, and it did not take long for her to strike out her first opponent of the season. A rise ball set down Oregon’s second batter for the first Terps strikeout of the season.
The top half of the opening inning ended with a Maryland strike-them-out, throw-them-out. Junior catcher Kiley Goff whizzed a throw to second base to end the Oregon threat.
Meanwhile, the Ducks started sophomore Stevie Hansen. Hansen finished last season with a 3.27 era, earning her third-team all PAC-12 honors.
[Maryland softball announces 2023 schedule]
However, Maryland broke through in the first inning due to Hansen’s lack of control. The Ducks starter walked four batters to bring home a Terps run, putting Maryland up 1-0.
Moments later, senior Trinity Schlotterbeck drilled a single up the middle to bring home two more runs, putting Maryland up 3-0.
Then in her first career at-bat, freshman Madison Runyan blooped a ball down the right field line, landing in no-man’s land for a bases-clearing double to increase the lead to 5-0 in the bottom of the first.
Hansen was pulled after 0.2 innings, surrendering five runs, four base-on-balls and two hits.
Hansen struggled to find the location of her fastball, forcing her to try and throw off-speed pitches for strikes. Instead, they continuously missed the zone, allowing Maryland to score five runs in the inning despite only two hits.
The Terps’ offense consistently put pressure on the Oregon defense. The Terps put three more runners on in the second inning before scoring on a double-steal with junior Jaeda McFarland stealing home to give them a 6-0 lead.
The Ducks broke the scoring drought in the third inning. Paige Sinicki was thrown out trying to steal second, but Kai Lusher dashed home from third on the throw down.
[Mark Montgomery signs five-year extension to stay with Maryland softball through June 2027]
Wyche limited the damage as the ace shut down Oregon hitters with a variety of pitches. She finished the day with 5.2 innings pitched, three earned runs, four strikeouts and eight hits surrendered.
Oregon’s Elise Solosky was also efficient, only giving up two runs in 5.1 innings pitched. Solosky retired eight Maryland batters in a row at one point to keep the Ducks in the game.
Oregon’s first real threat of the game came when the Ducks put the first two batters on base in the fifth inning. But Goff helped prevent any Oregon runs as she lasered a throw to third to throw out her third base-stealer of the game.
Wyche then struggled in the sixth, as she surrendered a bases-loaded situation with two outs. A passed ball brought Oregon within four, 6-2. Wyche then got the groundball she was looking for, but a tough hop overwhelmed freshman shortstop Sammi Woods, giving Oregon another run.
That would end Wyche’s day, as freshman Keira Buche replaced the senior.
Pinch hitter freshman Sydney Lewis chose a good time to secure her first collegiate hit in the bottom of the sixth inning. The first baseman roped a single into center field, giving Maryland an important insurance run to put them up 7-3.
Buche was placed in a big spot for her first appearance, asked to secure a save over a ranked team. The freshman delivered, garnering Maryland its first season-opener victory over a ranked opponent since 2008.