In each of its two games against Florida this weekend, Maryland softball walked three batters in the first inning. Florida put up multiple runs both times to take leads it wouldn't relinquish.
On Saturday, in the Terps' second matchup with the Gators, starter Lauren Graves walked the first two batters and fell behind the third hitter, 2-0, before Sydney Golden replaced her and walked the batter.
Golden, who has had issues all year throwing first-pitch strikes, started out ahead of only 9 of the 26 hitters she faced. She walked six Gators on the afternoon.
Maryland has had control issues this season, with 59 walks in 87 1/3 innings. Terps opponents, by contrast, have only walked 39 Maryland batters in 92 innings.
"With Lauren and Sami Main, it's some mechanical stuff that they're still working on," coach Julie Wright said. "For them they're just working on being good pitchers at this level."
Graves has 9 walks in 3 1/3 innings on the season, while Main has issued 13 walks in 7 1/3 innings.
Part of the Terps' control issues may stem from inexperience. While Ryan Denhart is the only freshman on the pitching staff, Main, a junior, came into the season with only 21 1/3 career innings and Graves, a sophomore, came in with 20.
Golden, a Cal State Fullerton transfer, is the only Maryland pitcher who entered the season with more than 100 collegiate innings. She pitched 218 2/3 innings at Cal State Fullerton.
In their 11 total innings of work against the Gators over the weekend, Maryland pitchers walked 19 batters.
In the other three games of the weekend, the Terps walked only 10 batters in 21 innings.
"I don't believe it was nerves," Wright said. "What the situation was is that Florida, better than anyone else in the country, takes pitches. So, I'm not as concerned with the walks against Florida, that's a team that is going to earn walks."
The other major issue Maryland pitching has endured is an inability to strike out hitters. In the 32 innings thrown on the weekend, the Terps only struck out 12 batters.
Like the walks, the strikeout issue has troubled them all season, as they have only 37 strikeouts on the year. Opponents have recorded 82 strikeouts in 92 innings against the Terps.
These two issues carry over from last year's Maryland squad, which walked 225 batters while striking out just 151 in 340 innings. Only one pitcher, Madison Martin, had a positive strikeouts-to-walks ratio, with 70 punch outs to 69 walks.
"We enjoy swing and misses," Wright said, "But where we are right now in our development as a pitching staff, we're going to get more swing to contact outs than we are strikeouts."