While Maryland softball right-hander Ryan Denhart went winless in her first collegiate tournament in Los Angeles, coach Julie Wright anticipated a strong display from the freshman last weekend.
Denhart, one of six freshmen on the new-look Terps, was an All-American last year at Los Alamitos High School in California. She's expected to be a regular starter in her first year in College Park, and Wright was happy to see Denhart live up to her prediction over the weekend. Pitching on her birthday Saturday against Delaware, the freshman recorded her first-ever win and complete game, part of a breakout effort in the Auburn Invitational.
In her two starts during the tournament, Denhart allowed two runs and seven hits over 13 innings. Denhart pitching was made more impressive by the 20 Maryland gave up in the two games she didn't start.
As important as not allowing hits was the young hurler's ability to throw strikes. She walked four batters in her two starts, and was efficient on the mound, needing only 96 pitches for her complete game against Delaware.
"She was making really good pitches," Wright said. "The mark of a good pitcher is getting out of trouble when you get into it, and she did a great job of getting herself out of trouble if she got into any, which she usually didn't."
Denhart has emerged early in the year as the pitching staff's workhorse. She has 29.1 innings so far, making her the only Terps pitcher with more than 20 innings. She has also thrown in seven of the team's nine games, with four starts.
In the Auburn Invitational, she benefited from much-improved defense from the Terps. After committing nine errors during the first weekend, Maryland went error-free for the first three games of the tournament, two of which Denhart started.
Wright partially attributed Denhart's success to her work with first-year pitching coach Tori Tyson.
Wright said Tyson brings "great energy and attention to detail" to the Terps' pitching staff, adding that watching her work with Denhart has been encouraging and "it's been fun to watch [Denhart] grow."
Denhart is joined by Sydney Golden at the front of the Terps' pitching staff, with the two pitchers combining for 45 of the teams 55.1 innings.
The two new pitchers are replacing the production that Maryland lost from its staff last season with the departures of innings leaders Hannah Dewey and Madison Martin.
The heavy workload has not yet slowed Denhart down, as she also leads the team in ERA (1.67), a full two runs below the team mark of 3.67.
Wright said prior to the tournament that her four pitchers would probably be looking at more even innings, but Denhart's strong performance showed why she's received the heaviest workload.