The numbers three, eight, 14, 18 and 42 were sprayed in the Maryland softball outfield with fresh white paint on Saturday, each holding a unique meaning to the Terps’ program.
Those are the numbers of the five seniors — Trinity Schlotterbeck, Campbell Kline, Mackense Greico, Taylor Liguori and Courtney Wyche — who were honored this past weekend, with each of them playing a paramount role in Maryland’s doubleheader against Wisconsin.
Each player’s first season matched Mark Montgomery’s inaugural year at the helm, apart from Greico. Each player has gone through a different journey, but they all are a big reason for the program’s recent resurgence.
Saturday’s doubleheader featured each player making an impact. In the first game, Schlotterbeck had one of the best outings of her career. The senior threw seven innings of one-run ball, including four strikeouts. Only in the seventh frame was Wisconsin able to scratch across a run, spoiling the start of Schlotterbeck’s senior day with a loss.
The first matchup saw only two seniors start the game, but all five played a role in the second. In a game that had potential NCAA tournament selection implications, Montgomery chose to rely on his veterans.
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“We played them all in this game. I mean, we could have gone with a few others but we chose to get them all in today, they’ve been an integral part of what we’ve been doing,” Montgomery said. “I’m not always promising I’m gonna play the seniors on senior day, but today it seemed appropriate so we did and they did a great job.”
Every senior started, including Wyche in the circle. She put on an ace-level performance.
Wyche only allowed two runs, tallied seven strikeouts and threw a complete game. After failing to do so in Saturday’s first game, the Terps’ lineup delivered for their pitcher.
“It’s what I’ve seen even in the losses, [Wyche is] battling, she’s given us everything she’s got in the circle, we’ve got to score more runs than the other team,” Montgomery said. “When [Wyche] is going out and holding them to one, two or three runs, we should win games.”
It was a little-used senior who delivered the first run of the game for Maryland. Kline, who has only started in 20 games this season, came through with a two-out RBI.
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But Kline showed some of her inexperience after the single, when she thought she heard an out call being made on the close play. Running back to the dugout, she did not realize it was a fan who said it, not an umpire.
She was tagged out, but the single gave Maryland its first run of the game in an unorthodox manner.
The next run was scored in a much more traditional manner, as Greico hit her third home run of the year in the fourth inning.
Greico returned to her home state to play her final two seasons after transferring from Furman University. She has been a mainstay in the lineup and started 32 games this season.
The winning run in the fourth came from another senior leader in Liguori. The second baseman laid down a perfect safety squeeze with a runner on third base, sacrificing herself in order to give Maryland the lead.
The bunt symbolized everything Montgomery and the Terps love about Liguori, a player who freshman Sammi Woods calls an “automatic leader.”
In a game that Maryland desperately needed to stay alive in the NCAA tournament race, it was its senior class in its final Big Ten home game that kept the Terps’ fleeting hopes alive.