Softball trounces Maryland, despite mid-game lag, in first game of series
COLLEGE PARK — In the first inning of the No. 22 Michigan softball team's first contest in College Park, Alex Sobczak cracked a line drive single to center field to bring home senior outfielder Natalie Peters and freshman outfielder Lexie Blair.
In the second, the senior first baseman hit a sacrifice pop-up to allow senior second baseman Faith Canfield to run to the plate.
And that was it for the Terrapins.
Michigan (38-11 overall, 20-1 Big Ten) defeated Maryland (20-29, 4-17), 6-1, in the first game of the series to continue its nine-game win streak. The win keeps Michigan in the running for the Big Ten title, depending on the results of the Minnesota-Northwestern series in Twin Cities.
Following Sobczak’s whack in the first and sacrifice in the second, the Wolverines’ offense lagged in the third inning with a 1-2-3 out for junior outfielder Haley Hoogenraad, Alexander and sophomore shortstop Natalia Rodriguez. The fourth inning didn’t bring any better results for Michigan, with Canfield, Peters and Blair failing to reach base in each of their consecutive at-bats.
Continuing that string of shutout innings for the Terrapins, after Maryland pitcher Sydney Golden hit Sobczak with a pitch in the fifth inning, junior third baseman Madison Uden hit a groundout to second base for a double play and senior Mackenzie Nemitz ended the inning with a fly out.
Still sitting on a four-run lead in the sixth inning, however, junior catcher Abby Skvarce, pinch hitting for Hoogenraad, rejuvenated Michigan’s offense with a line drive to right field. After her single and a walk for Canfield, Peters stepped to the plate. Two outs. No runs in four innings.
But the senior took things slow. And on the third pitch of the at-bat, Peters slammed a line drive triple to the center field wall that sent Canfield and Hoogenraad, who came back in the game to pinch run for Skvarce, to home plate for the Wolverines’ fifth and sixth runs of the game.
Following offensive ups and downs, the defensive performance also fluctuated slightly toward the end of the contest. Starting the game tight, sophomore left-hander Meghan Beaubien led Michigan, allowing just four hits and no runs in the first five innings of the matchup. Beaubien also threw a 'no-walker,’ a figure Michigan coach Carol Hutchins identified as a main goal of the Wolverine pitching staff. But that success eroded in the bottom of the sixth inning. With the bases loaded, Maryland catcher Gracie Voulgaris hit a groundout to Beaubien that the pitcher fumbled, injuring her hand and allowing a run in the process. While Storako finished out the inning strong, the run put the Terrapins on the board and brought the overall score to 6-1.
Despite those challenges, the Wolverines didn't let Maryland gain any more momentum and finished the game on a scoreless seventh inning.