After two consecutive weekends of games at home, the Maryland Terrapins will head to East Lansing, Michigan, to take on Michigan State in the second weekend of Big Ten conference play.
The Spartans and the Terps are both 0-3 in conference competition after last weekend. Michigan State dropped its three road games against Purdue, and Ohio State’s dominant offense swept Maryland. The sweep was highlighted by a 22-0 victory for the Buckeyes in the series finale.
“It’s not the way the game’s meant to be played,” head coach Julie Wright said following Sunday’s game. The 22-run deficit tied the program record for the largest margin of defeat.
After the crushing defeat by Ohio State, the Terrapins are looking to get back on their feet against 16-11 Michigan State.
Against the Buckeyes, Maryland struggled to find its rhythm in the circle, even putting in all five pitchers on staff in Sunday’s game to try to hold off the power hitting team that belted seven home runs over the weekend.
Ohio State, however, isn’t the only Big Ten team with the ability to hit hard and often.
Led by junior star Lea Foerster, the Spartans boast a team batting average of .320, have hit 15 more home runs than their opponents this season and lead the Big Ten in home runs. Foerster alone has eight of those homers.
The nation’s leader in runs per game, Foerster leads a squad of strong hitters that will test Maryland’s pitching staff, which struggled to stay consistent last weekend. The Spartans are ranked third nationally in triples, another key statistic that shows a team ready to hit well.
Michigan State will likely face Maryland pitcher Madison Martin, whose team-low ERA is representative of her overall dependable pitching this season, including two one-hitters.
Despite Martin’s solid work, the Terrapins have struggled to have a regular backup pitcher. Typically, Maryland turns to Hannah Dewey as its No. 2, who has had some productive games but can be less reliable than Martin. This discrepancy creates difficulty, when facing a powerful lineup like Michigan State when pitchers get fatigued, especially if there are runners on base.
While Maryland’s series against Ohio State doesn’t quite show it, the team was on a relative upswing coming off a 3-2 weekend right before conference play. The Spartans have not been successful as of late.
Michigan State was on a seven-game losing streak before winning its first home game Wednesday against Western Michigan ahead of the Maryland series. The team struggled over spring break, including two walk-off losses against Kennesaw State and Tennessee Tech.
Although the string of losses could hint to recent difficulties for the Spartans, home-field advantage and momentum from Wednesday’s win might play into their approach to the Maryland game.
The teams play at 4 p.m. Friday, 1 p.m. Saturday and 1 p.m. Sunday. All three games will be broadcast on BTN Plus.
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