Maryland softball trailed four times over the past weekend.
The Terps were down one run entering the sixth inning in the second game and down two with three innings left in the fourth game. But they managed to respond each time en route to a 4-0 weekend against North Carolina and Virginia.
The games showed the resiliency the Terps have displayed so far in this young season. Time and time again, coach Mark Montgomery’s team found itself trailing in the late innings but fought back into games.
“They have grit,” Montgomery said. “They know that they can score. As long as we’re within three runs, we always feel confident because three runs is a walk, a bloop and a blast … we can draw that anytime … anywhere in the lineup.”
That resilient nature hasn’t always been prevalent in Montgomery’s tenure.
Last season, Maryland came from behind in eight of its 29 victories. So far in 2023, the Terps have victories in five games in which they trailed in.
What changed? Montgomery pointed to a newfound process-level mindset, and this year’s squad’s added experience.
“We came back to the next inning, and it was two very quick outs … normally that will take a team and have them be like, ‘Oh crap, well just not our day.’ And this team doesn’t,” Montgomery said on the team’s response to giving up three runs to the Tar Heels.
A deeper back half of the lineup has led to the offensive success as well. Hitters, including senior Taylor Liguori and senior Trinity Schlotterbeck, all have increased their offensive output.
“The bottom of the lineup has a lot of upperclassmen and seniors and leaders on the team who have been seeing this kind of pitching for a while now,” Schlotterbeck said.
No player has impacted the offense’s resiliency more than sophomore Amelia Lech. The power-hitting first baseman had her first two career home runs at critical points in games.
Against No. 3 Oklahoma State, she stepped up to the plate with the bases loaded and the game tied at two. She provided the punch, drilling a ball over the wall for a grand slam.
Two games later, she stepped up to the plate against Virginia with her team trailing 1-0 in the sixth inning. Maryland had just one hit on the day until then; the Cavaliers’ pitching had completely shut down the Terps offense.
Lech changed that. Her second home run was just as crucial as the first, giving Maryland a 2-1 lead in the late innings and its first win in the ACC/Big Ten challenge.
“Not too many kids are pure hitters. [Lech’s] a pure hitter, the ball just explodes off her bat,” Montgomery said.
The comeback wins have helped the Terps jump out the gate this season. They’re ranked in the top 25 and are off to the program’s best start since 2012. There’s still a long way to go, but Montgomery and his gritty lineup hope to keep finding ways to win — blowouts and comebacks alike.