Maryland can thank a stadium employee at a Bowie Baysox game for inspiring Terps softball’s ace pitcher Courtney Wyche to play the sport.

Wyche was in third grade when she went to see a Baysox game with her grandpa, where she played carnival games in the stadium — one of them was a T-ball stand.

“The guy working the stand was like ‘Sir, you need to get her into T-ball as soon as possible, she has great form, I can tell she might have some skill in this sport,’” Wyche said.

And that she did. Wyche, the unofficial captain and a graduate student for Maryland softball played her last game in College Park on Sunday, closing out a storied career with her best season yet. The Silver Spring native stayed at Maryland for five years — despite having three different head coaches — and made a name for herself while playing with pride for her state.

“Courtney gave us every single ounce of everything that she had. We really couldn’t ask her to have done any more on this field for us than she did this year,” Lauren Karn said. “We don’t have captains, but she’s our pitcher. If we’re going to go down, we’re going to have to go down with her.”

Wyche was playing basketball when she went to the Bowie game. She comes from a long line of athletes, as both of her parents played college basketball. Wyche said she wasn’t “gritty enough” for her mom, and not “fast enough” for her dad, so after her last basketball game that year, she gave softball a shot.

[Maryland softball falls to Purdue, 7-1, drops fifth straight Big Ten series]

Her parents put her on her first travel team, the Tacoma Fire. Her natural talent at a young age fueled her passion, and the rest is history, according to Wyche.

Wyche received her first Division I offer from Missouri in seventh grade, just four years after being introduced to the game. She committed to Maryland in her freshman year of high school. Despite other offers, Wyche’s loyalty has always lied with her home state.

“I ultimately chose Maryland from the get-go because it’d be my hometown,” Wyche said. “I wanted to stay home, I wanted to represent my state and I wanted my family to be able to come to every single one of my games if possible.”

Wyche’s dedication to Maryland stayed strong. After two years of becoming accustomed to the college game, Wyche could’ve transferred to a more established program. Instead, she opted to stay at Maryland and establish herself in College Park.

A consistent pitcher throughout her years at Maryland, Wyche flourished in the 2024 season. She leads the Big Ten with 209 strikeouts and is tied for second-most shutouts with four.

She pitched her 37th career complete game against No. 25 Oregon, marking the 10th shutout of her career. Wyche notched 19 strikeouts in nine innings against Penn State on March 29 for a career-high.

“I look back on this journey, and I’m glad I stayed. Yes, I had opportunities to go somewhere. Yes, I think I could have been in a greater position to win a championship,” Wyche said. “While that may not be realistic this year, or in my career, I know that things I have accomplished have been a little bit greater than that.”

[Maryland softball collapses in the final inning, falls to Purdue, 2-1]

It was important for Wyche to have her inner circle close while at Maryland. Wyche said her parents, grandparents and younger sister have all made sacrifices to get her to where she is now.

Tracey Prather, Wyche’s mother, sat directly behind home plate on Sunday for Wyche’s final home game. Her elbows dug into her knees as she kept her eyes locked on the circle.

Repping Wyche’s number 42 on a shirt that said “The Court is in Session,” Wyche’s parents chanted the four B’s — breathe, be, believe, battle — throughout the game’s toughest moments. “The four” is written on Wyche’s glove, reminding the pitcher of her motto.

It’s helped Wyche throughout her illustrious college career and is something she still references as it comes to an end.

The Terps will play their final weekend series in Madison, Wisconsin to vie for a spot in the Big Ten tournament. A successful weekend could secure Maryland’s spot in the tournament, which will begin May 8. No matter the season’s outcome, Wyche plans to continue her softball career professionally.

Wyche will have an opportunity to potentially join one of the women’s professional fast-pitch teams as soon as June, she said. Continuing her softball career is her first goal. Her second is to grow her business Spin, Speed, and Snap Pitching.

“This is my purpose,” Wyche said. “This was what God intended me to do aside from play, is to share my passion with others and hopefully inspire the youth to continue to grow in the sport of softball.”