Amelia Lech finally caught up to a Dariana Orme fastball and struck the pitch into left field, but Taylor Strain came charging in and made a diving grab to save a no-hitter for Orme in the final frame.
Mackense Greico struck out in her next at-bat and Orme’s teammates rushed her at the pitching circle for her second no-hitter in a week — the junior threw a perfect game against Stephen F. Austin on Feb. 17.
No. 23 Maryland softball (9-2) had already defeated one premier opponent earlier this season in Oklahoma State, and had a chance to do it again on Friday. Instead, a Terps offense that was dominant in their win against the Cowgirls couldn’t figure out Orme, losing 5-0 to No. 22 Baylor (9-1).
For Maryland, another Big 12 opponent in Baylor proved to be a significant measuring stick for its own abilities. The Bears had already defeated then-No. 1 Oklahoma and their only loss of the season came to then-No. 7 Arkansas.
Traveling to Waco to take on Baylor in its home ballpark gave Maryland another chance to prove its legitimacy to the rest of the country. It also was a significant rise in completion for an offense that scored ten runs against Texas A&M Commerce earlier on Friday.
“The difference between the two games was the pitching we faced,” coach Mark Montgomery said.
[Maryland softball has notched multiple comeback wins early in the season]
Trinity Schlotterbeck was perfect in the Terps’ 10-0 win against the Tigers. The senior allowed no base runners, albeit it in five innings due to the mercy rule, for the first perfect game by a Maryland pitcher since 2013.
However, Schlotterbeck’s performance was not the only incredible showing in the circle on the day, as the Bears put on a pitching clinic of their own in the afternoon matchup.
Baylor’s starter, Orme, was an All-Big 12 second selection team last season and recorded an ERA of just 0.82 in four appearances this year. That caliber of arm proved to be tough for Maryland, as the Terps were no-hit by the Fresno State transfer.
“She’s one of the first aces that we have faced, that threw a really good game against us,” Montgomery said.
Orme utilized her fastball to blow Maryland hitters away up in the zone. The junior had 17 strikeouts in 17 innings pitched coming into the game, and continued her hot start by dominating the Terps’ bats.
Montgomery said that his lineup’s over-aggression also played a large role, with hitters chasing pitches well out of the zone.
The pitcher struck out four of her first seven batters by establishing the count early in the at-bat before utilizing the top of the zone. Not only was the transfer’s heater working, but her ability to keep Maryland hitters off balance with her breaking pitches was critical. Orme utilized a nasty changeup in pitcher counts en route to a career-high 11 strikeouts.
[Trinity Schlotterbeck, Courtney Wyche form experienced pitching duo for Maryland softball]
“I think that [Orme] is legit good, but we were swinging at balls [that] as soon as they left her hand we were making our decision,” Montgomery said.
While the Terps struggled offensively, the game against the Bears also gave senior Courtney Wyche an opportunity at redemption against a ranked Big 12 team. Wyche faltered in her outing against Oklahoma State, surrendering ten hits and six runs to the Cowgirls.
Instead Wyche continued to struggle, allowing four runs in four innings. This time, the Maryland offense failed to muster any run support as it could only reach base twice all game, on an error and a walk.
A three-run homer by sophomore Shaylon Govan proved to be too much for the Terps to overcome, and the Bears tacked on another run in the bottom of the fifth to coast to an easy 5-0 win in front of their home fans.
“That’s what changed the moment, you know if we had gotten out of that inning with just one other run scored we would have been fine,” Montgomery said. “The kids then lost confidence in the plate and the game itself changed.”
Maryland will return to action on Saturday, where it’ll take on its first Big Ten opponent of the season in Minnesota at 11 a.m.