Maryland strikes out against No. 18 Michigan in tough pitching contest

By Sununu Bah

Facing their most challenging Big Ten opponent of the season, the Maryland Terrapins put together one of their more inspiring efforts of the season, but unfortunately could not prevail.

The Terps (8-29-1, 1-9) lost 5-1 to No. 18 Michigan Wolverines (29-8-1, 9-1) in large part to the credit of the Wolverines pitching.

Senior pitcher Megan Betsa had 14 strikeouts on the day and a 1.3 era.

“She’s kind of phenomenal against everyone on the most part but yea she’s good,” Maryland coach Julie Wright said. “We could have been better honestly. She is good – I give her that credit – but there were some bats that I felt like we gave away. I felt like we could have hit some pitches that we took. You saw some of our hitters, the pitch that they took, was the best they saw in the entire bat.”

The Wolverines put themselves on the scoreboard first with an RBI by Abby Ramirez, allowing Canfield to score and runners to advance to second and third. Maryland was able to cease Michigan’s momentum with a Vargas foul and a pop up to end Michigan’s chances at another run. Moment’s later Anna Kufta’s solo shot to the left field tied the inning at 1-1, Maryland’s only hit on the inning.

Wright was proud of Kufta’s performance, who hit her fifth home run of the season.

“I was just pleased that she stepped in there and really just attacked,” Wright said. “That’s what you have to do with Betsa. You have to attack our strikes.“out with a solo hit to right-center, advancing her to second for a double.

Michigan’s Katie Alexander led of the second inning with a double to right-center. After a couple of outs, Faith Canfield’s hit to shallow center resulted in Alexander, being able to slide home without being tagged for Michigan’s second run of the game. This pushed Michigan’s lead to 2-1. Maryland batters stepped up to the plate but was unable to produce any hits as Ellazar and Calta struck out swinging.

Defense was the name of the game in the third inning as both teams were unable to manufacture hits but Maryland had one batter left on base.

After three straight innings of stagnant electricity, a Sportscenter top-ten worthy grab by Amanda Brashear in center field to close out the fifth inning seemed to galvanize the Terps.

However, unfortunately for the Terps, that was shot down. Just after Madison Uden shot one to right field, Amanda Vargas came through big time for the Wolverines for a 2-run homer, extending the Wolverine’s lead 4-1. For the final run of the game, Christner scored on a unearned run caused by a field error by second base.

Wright said that Madison, who had been matching Betsa pitch for pitch, delivered one of her better games of the season as she ended her night with four strikeouts and 3.86 era.

“I thought she pitched really well,” Wright said. “She had been struggling in the Big Ten as of late but I just thought she put together a fantastic game – she had a really great week in practice so I was just pleased it transferred.”

Maryland will host Michigan again Saturday at 1 p.m. in hopes of redemption.