Junior pitcher Sydney Golden releases a pitch during the Terps' 1-0 victory over Iowa. (Joel Valley/The Left Bench)

Terps earn first sweep since 2015 with victory over Iowa

The Maryland softball team (15-20, 5-1 Big Ten) dispatched Iowa (15-17, 1-4) by a 1-0 score in the series finale Sunday to win its fifth straight and complete its first series sweep since 2015.

The Terps needed only about an hour and fifteen minutes to wrap up the contest and its second successful weekend of conference play. The Terps are now 5-1 against Big Ten opponents after taking two of three from Penn State (6-23, 2-4) last weekend.

“No time better than Big Ten [series] to start playing well,” head coach Julie Wright said.

Junior pitcher Sydney Golden capped off an outstanding weekend by throwing a complete game shutout, holding the Iowa lineup to just four hits. On Friday, she threw six two-hit innings in relief in Maryland’s extra-innings victory.

“She’s ridiculous,” Wright said. “She just wears you out. I’m super proud of her, she’s been performing really well.”

Senior captain Sky Ellazar came through in the fourth, crushing a ball to center field off Iowa starter Allison Doocy to provide all the offense the Terps would need.

“It was just about making adjustments,” Ellazar said. “In that first game, she wasn’t throwing her riseball, so it was something we would have to adjust to because it was something we were preparing for all week. So I went home and watched film and just tried to make that adjustment off of her.”

Maryland also showed off its improved defense, making some nifty plays in the field. With the bases loaded for Iowa and one out in the second, third baseman Brigette Nordberg fielded a soft comebacker that she flipped to catcher Anna Kufta to get the runner at home. Kufta then threw to first baseman Jacqui Pascual to get the final out and keep the game scoreless.

In the fourth, left fielder Shelby Younkin made a fantastic throw to cut down the Iowa runner trying to stretch a single into a double.

“I’m pleased with it,” Wright said about the team’s defensive performance. “We started off rough in the season, so we’ve been working hard on their fundamentals and coming up clutch and positioning themselves properly and I think we’ve made some great headway on that.”

The Terps now turn their attention to their third conference series of the year, a three-game set against Illinois in Urbana-Champaign next weekend.

“We’re enjoying each other, we’re playing with high energy, doing all the little intangibles that when put together, make a really good team,” Wright said.