By Drew Owens
Courtney Wyche had dominated the pitching circle in the first leg of Maryland softball’s doubleheader against Rutgers Wednesday. The ace had yet to cede a hit through six innings as the Terps held a comfortable 3-0 advantage.
But disaster struck in the final inning.
After Rutgers senior Kiersten Withstandley singled up the middle to break up Wyche’s no-hit bid, Wyche loaded the bases and ceding a run on the ensuing three at-bats. That forced coach Mark Montgomery to bring on freshman Keira Bucher, who couldn’t mitigate the damage.
[Early offensive surges helped Maryland softball sweep Michigan State]
Bucher walked Payton Lincavage as the Terps’ lead was cut to just one before a Morgan Smith single into left field scored two more Scarlet Knights runners to seal the improbable win. Maryland (26-10, 3-5) lost both matchups against Rutgers (29-12, 6-2) on the road, losing 4-3 in the first matchup before falling again just hours later, 5-2.
The Terps struck early in the first inning. Sophomore Amelia Lech hit a sacrifice fly into center field, allowing Kiley Goff to score from third base.
Maryland’s offense took a dip in the next few innings — the Terps went hitless for the next three frames. Rutgers pitcher Morgan Smith struck out multiple Maryland players, allowing enough room for the Scarlet Knights to attempt to take a lead.
The Terps’ offense turned a corner in the fifth inning as Trinity Schlotterbeck and Sammi Woods both drew walks to put runners in scoring position. Junior Megan Mikami hit a single to score Schlotterbeck before a Goff flyout scored Woods on the next at-bat.
But the Terps’ pitching struggles in the final inning let a Big Ten victory slip out of the team’s grasp.
[Maryland softball captures first Big Ten victory of season in 3-0 win over Michigan State]
Maryland had an opportunity to avenge its loss in the second leg of the doubleheader, but head coach Mark Montgomery’s team suffered the same fate in the second go-round.
The Terps went scoreless until the fourth inning, when Liguori smashed an RBI single to score Schlotterbeck and Campbell Kline laid down a bunt that scored Michaela Jones to take a 2-1 lead.
The Scarlet Knights retook the lead just a half-inning later, scoring two runs of their own in the bottom of the fourth frame. Two more insurance runs in the sixth inning put the game further out of reach, and Maryland moved to 3-5 in conference play on the season.