Maryland softball coach Julie Wright was adamant after Saturday's 11-inning, 2-1 win over Penn State that pitcher Hannah Dewey was available Sunday. In what Wright described as the best game of her career, the senior threw 132 pitches, allowing just two hits and one run.
But after Dewey cruised through the three innings against the Nittany Lions on Sunday, she ran into trouble in the fourth. After a leadoff single, she loaded the bases with two walks. Then, infielder Kristina Brackpool cleared the bases with a double to narrow the Terps' advantage to 4-3.
The hit helped Penn State recover from an early 4-0 deficit to beat Maryland 7-5 and take the series.
"She felt good enough to start," Wright said of the choice to begin the game with Dewey in the circle.
Pitcher Sami Main replaced Dewey midway through the fourth, but she let Brackpool score on a groundout to tie the game at four. In the sixth, the Nittany Lions (22-29, 8-12 Big Ten) added three runs to take the lead.
Maryland (10-35-1, 3-15) used situational hitting to score in each of the first three innings, capitalizing on sloppy Penn State defense. The Nittany Lions committed four errors for the second time this series.
"Part of our goal was just to hit the ball hard," catcher Kristina Dillard said. "We knew that they were making mistakes, so also taking advantage of that [was important]."
Wright chose to bunt runners over, a focus for the team during the preceding week of practice, to put runners in scoring position.
The Terps took a first-inning lead after infielder Juli Strange singled and advanced to second on an error in center field. After outfielder Amanda Brashear moved Strange to third on a grounder, infielder Anna Kufta's RBI fielder's choice gave Maryland a 1-0 lead.
In the second, infielder Jordan Aughinbaugh reached on an error before outfielder Kassidy Cross drove her in with an RBI single. And in the third, Brashear led off with an infield single before Kufta hit an RBI triple to right field.
After Dewey exited in the fourth, Main pitched a scoreless fifth before Penn State recorded three runs against her in the sixth to take a 7-4 lead. Main earned the opportunity in the circle after strong bullpen sessions over the past three weeks. Wright felt she matched up well with the Nittany Lions.
"She's been working hard in the bullpen and coming out and doing her job," Dillard said. "Sami's always been a hard worker. So, I was really glad to see her bring what she had to the game."
Pitcher Madison Martin kept the deficit at three in the seventh, but the Terps couldn't rally in the bottom half.
Consecutive seventh-inning infield singles from Brashear and second baseman Skylynne Ellazar forced pitcher Marlaina Laubach out of the game. But after Dewey grounded out to score Brashear from third, the Terps failed to plate any more runs, completing the series loss.
Afterward, Wright lamented the time it took Maryland hitters to get comfortable against Laubach.
"I really wanted us — and we worked on it, too — to make adjustments a little bit sooner on [Laubach]," Wright said. "We waited just a little bit too long and made some repetitive mistakes. So, we needed to make an adjustment sooner on her. But she did a nice job of keeping us off-balance."