Throughout its opening game of the Big Ten tournament, Maryland softball alternated pitchers between stars Courtney Wyche and Trinity Schlotterbeck. Twice it seemed as if each pitcher’s day was done before being inserted back into the circle.
The decisions by coach Mark Montgomery did not pay off. In the fifth inning with the game knotted at one, Montgomery returned to Schlotterbeck — who started the game but faced only two batters — back into the game despite Wyche having only allowed one run in three innings.
Iowa took advantage, scoring two runs in the sixth to take a two-run lead. That late push plus a four-run seventh inning booted Maryland from the tournament. The Terps lost, 7-1, in the first round of the Big Ten tournament.
It looked like the Terps were going to jump on Iowa early, when they had runners on first and third with just one out in the first frame. But a baserunning gaffe by Megan Mikami kept her from scoring. Another poor base-running decision cost Maryland a chance at a run in the third to keep the Terps scoreless.
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Iowa scored in the next inning to take the lead on the game’s first score. A pair of singles and a McFarland error gave the Hawkeyes their first run of the day off a sacrifice fly.
Combined with Maryland’s offensive struggles, Iowa’s starter Jalen Adams settled into a groove. The freshman came into the game with a 2.04 ERA, and only allowed two runs to Maryland in her April start against the Terps, who left eight runners on base Wednesday.
Adams went start-to-finish, throwing a one-run complete game, while collecting only one strikeout.
Maryland made its move in the fifth inning. A single by Michaela Jones was followed by two bunt singles, which loaded the bases with no outs. A fielder’s choice gave the Terps the tying run, but Iowa managed to limit the damage to just one run.
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Iowa roared back an inning later. The Big Ten’s leading hitter, Nia Carter, reached on a Sammi Woods error, followed by a single that had the Hawkeyes in prime scoring opportunity. After a sacrifice fly and a double, Iowa took a 3-1 lead.
That advantage grew with a dominant seventh inning that put the game out of reach for a fledgeling Maryland offense. The Terps struggled to manufacture runs all season, an issue that arose again Wednesday with their season possibly on the line.
But Maryland’s Big Ten tournament hopes ended with its strengths — pitching and defense — faltering in the Terps’ most influential game of the season to put their NCAA tournament aspirations in doubt.