Maryland’s Big Ten Tourney hopes crushed by Wisconsin

By Sununu Bah

Coming into the matchup against another familiar Big Ten foe, the Maryland Terrapins knew that a sweep was the only way they would have their names firmly entrenched in the last spot of the conference’s tournament.

Much to their aspirations, the Terps (11-37-1, 4-17) were incapable of delivering, squandering their chances in a 8-3 to loss in the first of three matches against the Wisconsin Badgers (30-14, 9-11).

Maryland head coach Julie Wright said she was not trying to take anything away from freshman pitcher Kaitlyn Menz’s, who limited Maryland to only four hits, performance but the Terps got outside of themselves.

“I think some of the kids in the bottom half hit the ball strong –  just hit it at people,” Strange said. “We had some of that disease today – that Adam’s disease – and there was a few swings, where we were swinging at pitches that were not in our strike zone that were pitchers’ pitches in balls in fact.”

Wisconsin was the first to get on the scoreboard.

A run was scored by their senior shortstop Chloe Miller in the top of the first inning. Just after Kelsey Jenkins grounded out, Miller doubled to right field; and after another ground out – this time by junior shortstop Brooke Wyderski – Miller moved to third. Senior pitcher Hannah Dewey could not corral the ball after a single was launched her way, permitting Miller to score freely.

Dewey and Menz both did not allow a run in the second inning but that would not last as both teams responded in a big way.

In the third inning, after two consecutive outs, the Badgers responded back with two consecutive doubles. The first was by senior Sara Novak and the second by sophomore infielder Stephanie Lombardo, scoring Novak her first run of the game.

Coming into the third, Maryland did not have a single hit, however, Amanda Brashear was determined to change that. Her single to third base was followed by freshman infielder Anna Kufta delivering a bomb to left field for a 2-run shot, Kufta’s team-leading sixth home run of the season.

Strange said that Kufta had started the season off strong but ever since Big Ten play kicked off, she had got herself into a funk, however, her hardwork has paid off even motivating the other freshmen on the team.

“I’ve been really proud of the work she’s been putting in. I know we’ve been coming off road trips and she’s been coming out here and hitting,” Strange said. “Rutgers – Wednesday night – she was out here hitting. They asked me to turn the lights on when I left the field – the freshmen did – they were all out there hitting. That is the future so I’m really excited about that. Kufta will be a mainstay for sure.”

In the fourth, the Badgers ran up two more runs against Dewey and the Terps defense.

Sophomore catcher Melanie Cross scored the first after her double to center field and a single to right center by freshman infielder Jordan Little. Little scored the second run of the inning after a field error and a Wyderski shot to right field.

Maryland, once again, did not get a single hit in the fourth, and Wisconsin was not done yet.

In the fifth inning, three runs were scored on only two hits by the Badgers. Brianna Flugaur, Gabby Scherele and Cross all scored on unearned runs.

Dewey was pulled after the fifth inning and concluded her night, permitting nine hits and seven runs – three of which were earned – and a 4.94 ERA.

The Terps had a golden opportunity to crawl their way back into the game in the fifth, and although they scored a run, they were unable to fully capitalize.

Wisconsin had two errors, and Maryland had the bases loaded but only managed one hit in the inning. Ellazar was the lone scorer for the Terps, resulted by a Kufta single down the right field line. Her run was unearned.

The Badgers put one more run on the board after redshirt senior Madison Martin checked in. Little blasted a solo homerun to center field to put the final nail in the coffin, Little’s fourth home run of the season.

With Maryland now officially out of the equation for the Big Ten Tournament, Strange said that tourney was something she would have liked to accomplish for her seniors.

“I hate it for our seniors,” Strange said. “They’ve been through alot [and] I wish that that was something we could have gotten them for them for sure.“

Maryland will close out their final two games of the season against the Badgers, starting Saturday at 1 p.m.