By Drew Owens
Maryland softball battled with Penn State throughout Friday’s conference game, one that wasn’t settled through seven innings.
But Nittany Lions’ first baseman Lexie Black took Courtney Wyche deep for the second time in the top of the eighth inning, helping Penn State beat the Terps in College Park, 3-2.
“The kids played hard tonight, they just came out on the wrong end of the scoreboard.” coach Mark Montgomery said.
Maryland (30-14, 6-9 Big Ten) kicked off its series against Penn State after blowing out UMBC Wednesday in a nine-run explosion. There would be no such offensive fireworks against the Nittany Lions.
Wyche started strong, striking out two in a scoreless top of the first. The Terps managed two walks in the bottom of the inning as Kiley Goff and Mackense Greico got on base against Nittany Lions’ pitcher Kylee Lingenfelter.
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But pop-ups from Amelia Lech and Trinity Schlotterbeck ended the Maryland threat in a recurring theme — it finished the game 1-of-9 with runners in scoring position.
“At the end of the day, we’ve got to find a way to get more hits,” Montgomery said.
Wyche allowed one hit in the second and two in the third but came up big with two strikeouts each in both innings to hold Penn State scoreless.
In the bottom of the second, freshman Sammi Woods and outfielder Megan Mikami both hit singles. Mikami’s hit, combined with a Penn State throwing error, allowed Woods to advance to third. But once again, the Terps couldn’t bring in a runner in scoring position as Goff grounded out.
In the third inning, Jaeda McFarland was hit by a pitch and stole second. She advanced to third because of another error by Penn State. A sacrifice fly from Lech scored McFarland for the first run of the game and gave Maryland an early lead.
The Terps’ offense threatened again an inning later — bringing a runner to second before a strikeout ended the fourth.
[Maryland softball’s late-game struggles could impact NCAA tournament hopes]
The inability to extend its lead hurt Maryland in the fifth inning as Wyche faltered. She allowed a single to Penn State’s Cassie Lindmark before Black hit her first home run. The two-run shot put the Nittany Lions up one.
But Maryland responded. McFarland doubled into the outfield in the bottom of the fifth and Schlotterbeck brought her home with a game-tying single.
“[McFarland] is an impact player for us. We’re very fortunate she’s on our side and loves Maryland as much as she does,” Montgomery said.
Wyche pitched a scoreless seventh and gave Maryland a chance to win the game. In the bottom of the inning, McFarland doubled. But once again, the Terps couldn’t bring home a runner as Greico and Lech grounded out to send the game into extra innings — where Maryland lost.
“We’ll just come out and play our hearts out tomorrow,” Montgomery said.