Oftentimes in softball, the home run or the double in the gap is what gets fans and players excited alike. However, it was small-ball and strategy that allowed Maryland to take the lead over BYU in the third inning, one they would never surrender.
The Terps mercied the Cougars 10-2 in just five innings Friday, putting them at 2-0 on the young season and undefeated in the Puerto Vallarta College Challenge.
Coming off an electric upset win over No. 22 Oregon, Maryland looked to continue its first inning dominance on the offensive side.
Instead, it was a pitching masterpiece that occurred in the opening inning and would continue on throughout the day from senior Trinity Schlotterbeck.
Senior Trinity Schlotterbeck was a big part of that huge first inning against Oregon, as she drove in two runs with an RBI single. On Friday, she took to the pitching circle for the Terps and proved to be just as important.
The senior was a pitching mainstay for the Terps last season, as she led the team in innings last season (147), including seven complete games. Schlotterbeck finished the year with a 3.71 ERA on the season, which was good for second on the team.
Meanwhile, freshman Kaysen Korth pitched for the Cougars. BYU’s pitching was the story of its opening game in Mexico, as Korth pitched a complete game shutout while only surrendering three hits to the Badgers.
[First inning outburst propels Maryland softball to season-opening win over Oregon, 7-3]
BYU threatened to open the scoring in the second inning. The Cougars put runners on first and second with only one out, but Schlotterbeck induced two ground-balls to get out of the inning with no runs allowed.
Maryland would do the same in the bottom of the second. Schlotterbeck showed she can do more than just pitch, as her single to the right-field gap gave the Terps runners on first and second base with just one out.
But Korth blew a heater right by sophomore Kamryn Davis at the top of the zone, and prevented the Terps from responding.
A little small ball from the Terps helped them gain the first run of the game. Freshman Sammi Woods laid down a perfect bunt, then stole second to give Maryland a runner in scoring position with no outs.
Then junior Megan Mikami squirted a ground ball up the middle to bring home Woods, putting Maryland up 1-0 in the third inning.
Mikami, who stole bases on all 30 of her attempts last season, then took second base to facilitate another run. Junior star Jaeda McFarland knocked a single to right field to score Mikami, making it 2-0 Terps.
That forced BYU to go to its bullpen, as sophomore Alyssa Aguilar replaced Korth.
It did not take long for Maryland to open up its lead as senior Mackensie Greico smashed a double into the left field gap, plating two to give Maryland a 4-0 lead.
[Maryland softball announces 2023 schedule]
A sacrifice fly and a Woods bloop to right field followed, stretching the Terps’ lead to 7-0.
Maryland’s defense continued to shine in the fourth after BYU put two runners on with nobody out. A sharp ground ball to third turned into a dazzling double play for Maryland, helping Schlotterbeck continue her shutout after she got out of the inning with a strikeout.
The onslaught continued in the fourth, as pinch-hitter senior Taylor Liguori timed up an off-speed pitch to bring home another Maryland run. Then junior Michaela Jones had another infield single to plate another run, making it 9-0.
Schlotterbeck was pulled from the game in the top of the fifth, as the senior finished with a line of four innings pitched, four strikeouts, no earned runs allowed, and only three hits surrendered.
The Cougars avoided the mercy rule in the top of the fifth inning, as a two run double off of freshman Keira Bucher prevented Maryland from closing the game in five innings.
However, BYU couldn’t do the same in the bottom half of the inning, as sloppy defense by the Cougars allowed the Terps to end the game early. A throwing error gave Maryland a 10-2 dominant win over the Cougars.