Mackense Greico’s homer in Friday’s game against Illinois put the finishing touches on a dominant Maryland softball victory. She replicated that on Saturday, as the senior hit her second home run in as many days to deliver another knockout punch to the Fighting Illini.
Greico’s fifth-inning home run was the finishing touch on another dominant win for the Terps, one that was also powered by pitcher Trinity Schlotterbeck. Maryland (35-16, 10-11 Big Ten) clinched a series victory in its penultimate regular season game against Illinois (28-15, 6-15 Big Ten) with a 8-1 win on Saturday.
“We have a chance to win every game we play just because [Schlotterbeck and Courtney Wyche] are doing such a great job [pitching],” coach Mark Montgomery said.
The Terps got the scoring started in the second inning as Greico continued her hot start to the weekend. She led off the frame with a single, and that paired with some small ball got Maryland its first run of the game.
With runners on first and third, Schlotterbeck took off to second hoping to draw a throw from Illinois’s catcher. It worked to perfection as the catcher’s throw sailed to second base, allowing Greico to swipe home.
[Five-run fourth inning lifts Maryland softball past Illinois, 6-2]
“We ran exceptional first and third plays today,” Montgomery said.
There were even more scoring chances for Maryland in the second, but it squandered a strong opportunity. Schlotterbeck was beaten by a throw to home on a fielder’s choice and then Sammi Woods flew out, ending any further threat.
Schlotterbeck’s performance on the basepaths extended to the mound and the batter’s box. The lineup loaded the bases in the third inning, giving Schlotterbeck a chance to give herself some run support.
The senior delivered, driving home two runners with two outs and giving Maryland a 3-0 advantage. After Schlotterbeck, Michaela Jones cashed in another run with an RBI single, extending the Terps’ lead to four.
That strong inning was all Schlotterbeck would need, as the senior continued to pitch well. She only allowed seven runs in her last six starts entering Saturday, including a seven inning, one-run performance against Wisconsin last week.
Her performance against the Fighting Illini was even better, as Schlotterbeck carved up Illinois’ offense. She cruised through the opposing lineup by effectively mixing her speeds, striking out seven batters and only allowing four hits without giving up an earned run.
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The senior’s only real trouble came in the third inning, when a Jones error helped give Illinois their first run of the game.
Poor defense started the inning, but stellar defense ended it. Woods snagged a line drive that looked like it was going to score two runs, then threw behind the runner at third to secure the inning-ending double play.
“You want to be able to overcome [an error],” Montgomery said. “You make one, then make a great play behind it.”
A Jaeda McFarland steal provided some fireworks in the fourth inning, as Illinois coach Tyra Perry was displeased with the umpire’s safe call on McFarland’s steal and was subsequently ejected for arguing with it.
Perry’s ejection proved to not make a difference, as Schlotterbeck shut down Illinois the rest of the way. A sacrifice fly by Amelia Lech in the sixth inning gave Maryland another insurance run and added to her team-leading 44 RBIs.
Schlotterbeck also gave herself another RBI in the Terps’ three-run sixth inning with a single that extended the Terps’ lead to six. In an excellent two-way performance, the pitcher finished the game going 4-for-4 with three RBIs and a pitching victory.