File photo from 2017 season by Paige Leckie/ The Left Bench.

Maryland Softball Looks to Shake Off Early Rust at Auburn Invitational

 

After dropping four of their first five games last weekend, the Terps hope to regain momentum at the Auburn Invitational in Alabama.

The Terps won their first game of the season, a 2-1 victory over Middle Tennessee, after four straight losses to UCLA, UC Riverside and a pair to Cal Poly at the UCLA Tournament,. Facing an early deficit after allowing a run in the first inning, Maryland tied it up in the fifth on a homer by center fielder Kassidy Cross, her first of the season. The Terps scored the decisive run in the sixth on an RBI double from infielder Hannah Eslick. Newcomers Ryan Denhart and Sydney Golden combined for 6.1 innings of scoreless relief.

“This team has fight, desire and accountability. [Those] qualities will help us get better [with] every pitch,” head coach Julie Wright said on Twitter.

For a squad that won only 11 games in 2017 and 12 the year before, avoiding prolonged losing streaks will be key to earning more victories in 2018.

“The big thing we are going to work on is playing consistent,” Wright told The Left Bench last year. “You’ll win a lot more that way.”

A revamped squad will try to provide that consistency. Nine new players join the roster – six freshman and three transfers. Golden joins Maryland after two years at Cal State Fullerton, where she was named last season’s Big West Conference Freshman Pitcher of the Year. Infielder Bailey Boyd played for Towson for two seasons before transferring to Maryland. Infielder Mikayla Werahiko was a two-time Suncoast Conference First Team honoree at Florida Southwestern State College.

Elsick, outfielder JoJo McRae, outfielder Shelby Younkin, infielder Sammie Stefan, pitcher Ryan Denhart and infielder Taylor Wilson make up the Terps’ freshman class.

Wright enters her third season as head coach, coming to Maryland in 2016 after a a five-year stint as the head coach at Idaho State. She will be working with two new assistant coaches after the departures of Lisa Carey and Lisa Norris. Victoria Hayward joins Maryland as the hitting coach after two years in the same position at UMass. Tori Tyson spent the last two seasons as the pitching coach for Cal State Fullerton, where her pitching staff, including transfer Golden, put up team ERAs under 2.70.

Maryland will play a pair of doubleheaders this weekend. On Saturday, the Terps will square off against Delaware and Auburn at 9 a.m. and 2 p.m., respectively. On Sunday, they face St. Francis (PA) and Auburn at 10 a.m. and 12:30 p.m.

The games will be live-Tweeted from the Maryland Softball account (@TerpsSoftball). Both games against Auburn will stream on the SEC Network.