By Cam Hasbrouck
The Maryland Terrapins let the final game of their series against no. 18 Michigan slip away in the final inning on Sunday, when they allowed two seventh-inning runs to fall to the Wolverines by a score of 4-3.
Michigan’s Megan Betsa allowed just four hits while striking out twelve from the circle to steal the series on the road in College Park.
The Wolverines jumped out to the lead in the second inning when Courtney Richardson took Maryland starting pitcher Madison Martin deep with a solo home run.
Meanwhile, Betsa continued her dominance in the circle, allowing no hits through three innings while facing the minimum number of batters. Her no-hitter was broken up in the fourth inning by Juli Strange, who hit her second home run in as many days to tie the game at one.
The Wolverines bounced right back in the top of the fifth with an RBI single for Tera Blanco that plated Natalie Peters. The Wolverines had a chance to score more with the bases loaded and two outs, when Terps head coach Julie Wright brought in Hannah Dewey in relief for Martin. Dewey saved the day, striking out Michigan’s Kelly Christner looking.
Maryland broke through in the bottom half of the inning with two runs of their own to take the lead. After Madison Martin walked to lead off the inning, Dewey and Kristina Dillard were retired in order, leaving a runner on first with two outs.
From there, Kassidy Cross singled to put runners on first and second for Sarah Calta. Michigan shifted its outfield to the left side for Calta, who answered by finding the extended gap in right center field, legging out a two-run triple to put the Terps on top. Her triple was just Maryland’s third hit of the afternoon.
Calta, who is in the process of returning from an ACL injury, was happy to pitch in for the team.
“I’m just happy to see my teammates doing so much better than we’ve been doing.” Calta said after the game. “It’s been a really hard year for us and to come out and just be clutch for my teammates when they needed me just made me feel like I was doing my part.”
A scoreless sixth inning brought Maryland to the seventh up one, but the team was unable to hold back the desperate push by the Wolverines. After striking out the first batter, Dewey walked three straight to load the bases. A single to left by Christner tied the game, followed by a sacrifice fly to right to take the lead.
Maryland’s Cross was able to draw a walk in the bottom half of the seventh, followed up by a Calta single. However, the Terps were unable to drive the runners home, and fell to the Wolverines in the final inning.
Despite dropping the series to Michigan, coach Wright believes that the Terps showed signs of good things to come.
“I thought we played our best series of the year – our best weekend of the year,” Wright said. “I tell them (the team) that you just want to be in a position to win the game at the end of the game, and we were there and it just didn’t go our way.”
In particular, Coach Wright was impressed with the progress that Maryland has made defensively. In particular, the Terps’ infield has tightened up. In the three game set against a hard-hitting Michigan squad, the Terrapins committed just one error.
“I think it’s coming together,” Wright said. “They’ve been out taking balls early, they’ve worked my tail off for the last two weeks out early hitting them ground ball after ground ball and bucket after bucket. I think it’s just finally coming together for them, and they’re starting to play good softball at the best time for it.”
All in all, the Terps can walk away from the weekend knowing that they can compete with the best of the best.
“We can do this. Period.” said Wright.