The Maryland softball team defeated Iowa 2-1 in an extra-inning thriller during their second Big Ten series of the season. The Terps maintained a scoreless draw against the Hawkeyes until the sixth frame when Iowa gained the initial offensive advantage.
In the top of the sixth inning, Iowa junior Allie Wood notched an RBI double down the left field line, bringing the score to 1-0 after solid defense from both teams prevented runs for the previous innings.
Junior pitcher Sydney Golden replaced freshman pitcher Ryan Denhart to hold off Iowa from gaining any more runs—a plan that Maryland head coach Julie Wright has done intentionally in the past.
“Denhart is a little more up in the zone; Golden is a little more down in the zone. So it gives a nice different look,” Wright said. “Double-headers work to our advantage because they’re so different.”
When it was time for the Terps to go up to bat in the second half of the inning, they did not step down. Maryland quickly brought it back to a 1-1 tie with an RBI double to centerfield by Anna Kufta.
The run count for both teams remained stagnant once again, this time until the bottom of the 11th inning. Amanda Brashear advanced to first base after a fielding error by first base, and Skylynne Ellazar advanced Brashear to second with a bunt. Suddenly, coach Wright needed to make a decision on what approach her next batter, Kufta, should take to bring in that needed run.
“I told her Brigette coming up behind her [was] a fly-ball hitter. We needed little-team softball here, and 60-feet closer was just a lot better,” Wright said. “When she got herself into that ball count, I was like, ‘Okay, I’m just going to see.” Then when she got the one-strike and didn’t feel good about it, that’s when I put a bunt on her.”
And the plan worked. Kufta hit a sacrifice bunt to get Brashear to third, and Nordberg followed her by hitting an RBI single to centerfield, landing the Terps the 2-1 win.
Throughout the season, the Terps have been working towards several strategies to improve their game: getting double plays, maintaining great defense and getting runners in scoring position.
Both teams maintained solid defense, but the Terps’ attempts to get runners in a scoring position failed them particularly in the bottom of the third inning.
Kassidy Cross, more commonly known to be a pinch-runner, bunted down the left-field line but was caught stealing to second. Just a few plays later, Mikayla Werahiko was caught stealing to third after a hit by Brashear. Coach Wright explained how the Terps were working towards solidifying their stealing strategy to get closer to a scoring position.
“We talk about the first 10 feet and the last 10 feet when you’re trying to steal a base. Everybody’s about the same speed in the middle, quite frankly,” Wright said. “So we need to be better on our first 10 feet and a little more accelerating in our last 10…we’ve been getting thrown out by catchers I don’t think we should be thrown out by.”
The Terps will take on Iowa again on Saturday at 1 p.m. in the Maryland Softball Stadium. The game can be followed through live stats or the Maryland softball Twitter account.