Maryland softball had runners on second and third base with just one out in the first inning Wednesday against Maryland Eastern Shore. With the heart of the Terps lineup coming up, it seemed like they would jump on the Hawks early.
Instead, a strikeout and a lineout right at the second baseman ended the Terps’ scoring threat, continuing Maryland’s inability to land the first punch. Coach Mark Montgomery preached patience after the game.
“We just kind of had an unfortunate strikeout with Sydney [Lewis] … Then Amelia [Lech] hits a line drive to the second baseman, if that ball gets up or has any lift to it, it’s a double and we score two,” he said.
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His patience was rewarded, as the Terps’ offense exploded against Michigan State. Maryland swept the Spartans and scored a combined 22 runs in the series. Fifteen of those 22 runs came in the first two innings, and six came in the opening frame.
Extra-base hits propelled the lineup early Friday. Michaela Jones tripled to bring in three runs, the only ones of the game.
On Sunday, the Terps’ bats took an extra inning to erupt. They scored four runs in the second inning and displayed strong base-running, consistently taking extra bases as Michigan State overthrew the right player.
“When you can put a crooked number up early, you play more relaxed,” Montgomery said.
The beginning of the lineup features a diverse group of skill sets — Megan Mikami and Jaeda McFarland bring elite speed, catcher Kiley Goff has great bat-to-ball skills and Lech brings serious pop.
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It was the type of early and potent offensive showing what Montgomery wanted after a poor weekend in Indiana. While the Terps scored 12 runs in the series against the Hoosiers, many came in the later innings with Maryland facing steep deficits they couldn’t overcome.
“We kind of got behind the eight ball, and we panicked a little bit,” Montgomery said.
The Terps look to extend their three-game Big Ten win streak against a Rutgers team that ranks fifth in the conference in pitching. The Scarlet Knights have a combined 2.60 ERA, including a 2.21 ERA from ace Raimy Gamsby.
It will be paramount that Maryland continues to have strong offensive starts if it wanta to continue climbing the Big Ten standings. That puts heavy pressure on the top of the Terps’ order to produce.
If this past weekend is any indication, they can handle the load.