It was a stinging cold day to kick off the Maryland Invitational—the Terps’ first non-conference tournament at home this season.
The Maryland softball team (6-14) played six solid innings of ball against the Utah Utes (11-7) before letting their defensive guard down in the last inning, resulting in a 7-1 loss.
In an earlier interview with The Left Bench, Maryland head coach Julie Wright said one of the things the Terps would need to work on was getting runners in scoring position—a goal made harder by Utes pitcher Katie Donovan’s solid pitching.
Donovan secured the win with 79 strikes in 121 pitches, compared to Maryland freshman pitcher Ryan Denhart’s 61 in 100, but Denhart was still able to hold off any major hits until the bottom of the seventh inning.
“Ryan did a really good job of hitting her spots when she needed to, and when there were change-ups, she was selling that pitch so well, so I was really impressed,” Wright said.
Maryland catcher Anna Kufta still managed to crack a home run over centerfield despite Donovan’s difficult pitches, landing the Terps their lone run of the evening during the top of the fourth.
The Utes managed two runs early on in the bottom of the second with a home run by BreOnna Castaneda. The Terps’ defense was solid until a precarious situation set in: bases loaded.
Although Denhart went into the game with a greater ERA than junior pitcher Sydney Golden, Denhart is prone to having more home runs hit off of her. And with runners on every base, a home run was too much to risk.
Golden swapped in to play for Denhart, but it was to no avail. It only took a few cracks of a bat before five more runs came in for Utah.
“I’m a firm believer that defense doesn’t win games; defense loses softball games,” Wright said. “We made a couple of mistakes that were routine that you just can’t make in that situation, but again, it’s a part of being young and a part of that learning curve.”
The tournament continues Friday afternoon with a doubleheader against Miami University of Ohio and Jacksonville. The Terps are looking for redemption against Miami (OH) after losing 2-1 last weekend at the Black & Red Invitational in Louisville.
The game begins at 3 p.m. at the Maryland Softball Stadium. All games will be broadcast on BTN Plus and live-tweeted from the Maryland Softball Twitter account.