Terps Squeak Out Win Against Spartans

By Gill Vesely

Fresh off a 10-2 win just minutes beforehand, the Maryland Terrapins softball team took their home field Sunday afternoon against the Michigan State Spartans in hopes of securing their second win of the doubleheader and their first series win of the year.

After a back and forth game, the Terps came out with a 9-8 victory. Sunday’s contests marked the team’s first back-to-back victories of the season and followed a 12-3 loss to the Spartans Friday night.

“It was mentality,” head coach Julie Wright said about the difference between Friday and Sunday’s games. “We…brought more. I feel like today was a day that we did it. We sustained it for 14 innings, and that’s something that we just haven’t been able to do yet. It’s great to see it right now.”

Lindsey Schmeiser and Destiney Henderson led Maryland offense, each going 3-for-4 from the plate and batting in a run. Teammate Kristina Dillard was 2-for-4 with 2 runs batted in.

“I think we were just more aggressive in our at-bats,” Schmeiser said. “I think we got after their pitchers a lot more just because we had a more aggressive mentality.”

Terps starter Madison Martin got off to a bit of a rough start, giving up three runs in the top of the first inning. It started with a hit from Michigan State’s McKenzie Long. A few batters later, Long took out Maryland’s Skylynne Ellazar on a slide into third. Ellazar left the game and would not return.

The Spartans’ Ebonee Echols then slapped a two-out, two-run triple into left, putting the first runs of the game on the board. An infield error by the Terps allowed the third run to score before Martin got a strikeout to end the half inning.

Maryland got some offense going themselves in the bottom of the first. Schmeiser hit one right up the middle for a single then moved to second after Emily Libero, playing in Ellazar’s place, got hit by a pitch.

Hannah Dewey walked to load the bases with one out in the inning. Kristina Dillard fouled off a series of pitches on an 0-2 count before letting one bounce past Spartan catcher Lindsey Besson, allowing a Maryland run to score.

Dillard then drove in the other two runners with a single, tying the game at 3-3.

A Michigan State error and a walk given up by Spartan pitcher Kristina Zalewski contributed to loaded bases once again for Maryland, still with just one out in the inning.

Two more Maryland runs came in, one after Henderson squeezed one out through an infield single, and one after Corey Schwartz was hit by a pitch. The Terps led 5-3 through one.

Martin rebounded in the top of the second, getting out of the inning without giving any runs.

Libero got a double by hitting a solid piece of the ball in the bottom of the second. She scored on a double by teammate Kylie Datil, putting the Terps up 6-3 heading into the third inning. Libero finished with a hit and an RBI.

“I was pleased,” Wright said of the junior. “Emily is a really, really good player. She really is. Coming in and doing her job, that’s no problem.”

Martin kept the Spartans hitless in the top of the third. On offense, Maryland tacked on another run in the inning, stretching their lead to 7-3.

Michigan State got hot in the top of the fourth, starting with a two-run shot by pinch hitter Kassidy Kujawa. Another run came in after a Maryland error, tightening the score to 7-5, Terps, into the bottom of the fourth.

Dewey replaced Martin in the circle with one out in the top of the fifth and a Spartan runner in scoring position. She loaded the bases before giving up a walk to Michigan State’s Shanin Thomas, bringing the score within one. The Terps led 7-6 into the bottom of the fifth.

The home team added some breathing room in their offensive half of the inning after a double by Schmeiser drove in a run. Maryland led 8-6 through five.

Brenna Nation took to the circle for the Terps in the sixth. The Spartans’ offense found its way through, however, and tied up the score at 8 after a triple by Long scored one and then turned into a home run after a throwing error by Maryland sent her home.

Despite two more Spartans getting on, Nation was able to get out of the inning without any further damage.

Maryland couldn’t muster much offense in the bottom of the sixth, though, and went to the seventh still tied at eight.

The Spartans were held hitless in the top of the seventh, setting the Terps up to walk off. Henderson got it started with a chopper past Long, the Spartans’ shortstop. Schwartz put down a sacrifice bunt to move Henderson to second.

Sarah Calta then poked one through a gap on the right side of the infield, pushing Henderson to third with one out in the inning. Schmeiser was intentionally walked, loading the bases. Libero got hit by a pitch to bring in the Terps’ ninth run and end the game.

Next up for the Terps is a series with Penn State starting April 15. The key to success in that series and others, Schmeiser said, will be “just going in wanting to crush a team. That’s essentially what you should be thinking every time. I think Penn State should be a good series. They’re a team we can compete with, so I think if we attack them like we did today, we have a shot. We can beat them.”