A long at-bat in the opening inning from Peyton Blythe was extended when Maryland catcher Kiley Goff dropped a foul ball. As is often the case in softball, that mistake proved to be costly, as Blythe ended up smashing a ball down the right-field line for an RBI-double.
Two pitches later, senior pitcher Trinity Schlotterbeck hung a changeup down the middle and Texas Tech made her pay. Ellie Bailey smacked the ball off the right-center field wall for the Red Raiders third RBI of a three-run first inning.
That opening frame was all Texas Tech needed to top Maryland on Friday, 6-1. The Terps defeated North Dakota earlier on Friday in their home-opener.
For Schlotterbeck, three runs in the first frame was the most she had surrendered in an inning all season. Entering the game with a 1.63 ERA, the senior had been nearly unhittable.
So when the Red Raiders were crushing her pitches into the gaps, it seemed to rattle the star. Perhaps it was an off day for Schlotterbeck, or perhaps she had not faced an offense like the caliber of Texas Tech.
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Ranking first in the Big 12, the Red Raiders had scored 205 runs on the season entering into Friday. Their lineup also has significant power, as they now lead the Big 12 in home runs with 50.
“That’s not by accident, they’re legit,” coach Mark Montgomery said. “They hit the ball really well.”
Therefore, it was not surprising that Schlotterbeck struggled against a lineup with seven players hitting above .300 on the year. What was surprising was how quickly the game spiraled out of control for the senior.
Schlotterbeck was only able to complete two innings before being pulled. Freshman Keira Bucher replaced her. Schlotterbeck finished with a line of two innings, seven hits, and four runs allowed.
The Red Raiders consistently were on time to the senior’s pitches and nearly every off-speed pitch was taken for a ball. A step up from Maryland’s recent opposition, Texas Tech made the Terps pay for every mistake.
“[Trinity] struggled in the first inning and then she struggled in the second and we felt like we had to make a change,” Montgomery said.
Yet, Bucher seemed to stump the Red Raiders lineup. The freshman threw a variety of slow offspeed pitches that the Big 12 opponent was constantly early on.
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Bucher kept the Terps in the game, holding the Texas Tech lineup scoreless for four innings. However, Maryland’s offense was never able to provide its pitching with any sort of help, going scoreless until the final frame.
Senior Kendall Fritz almost shut out the Terps, ending the night with a line of seven innings, one run and only four hits allowed.
Similar to Texas Tech, Maryland had a great scoring chance in the first inning. Unlike the Red Raiders though, the Terps failed to capitalize. Amelia Lech had runners on first and second with just one out, but she struck out and then Mackense Greico grounded out to end the threat.
“[Amelia] and Mackense both, two of our run-driving-in kids, didn’t get it done then,” Montgomery said.
Texas Tech would finish the game by showing off its power with a two-run homer in the seventh off Kyra Pittman to make it 6-0. Sidney Lewis hit a solo run to make it 6-1 in the final frame, but the bomb was merely a footnote in a sleepless offensive performance.
Ultimately, the first inning was the only real scoring chance that Maryland had and proved to be the story of the game. When Texas Tech was provided with a scoring chance, they delivered. Maryland never did.