Entering its series against Indiana this weekend, the Maryland softball team knew it would see a lot of Hoosiers ace Tara Trainer. So following their midweek doubleheader against St. Francis, the Terps prepared specifically to hit against the right-hander.
The extra work didn't seem to help, though, as Trainer picked up two wins and a save to power Indiana to a three-game sweep.
Trainer's showing continued her scorching start to conference play. In Big Ten games, the junior hurler is 7-2 with a 1.46 ERA and a conference-best 60 strikeouts.
"It wasn't anything we didn't already know," coach Julie Wright said. "It was lack of execution offensively on our part. We knew she was going to miss with that screwball and throw that changeup as often as she could with us."
While Trainer wasn't necessarily a mystery to Maryland, she managed to shut down the Terps by effectively mixing her pitches.
She relied heavily on her off-speed pitches, often throwing her changeup and screwball. The Terps expected Trainer to miss the strike zone with those offerings, but she instead threw more than two-thirds of her pitches for strikes and walked only two batters in 14 innings.
After Friday's 10-1 loss, infielder Skylynne Ellazar said the Terps needed to make an adjustment and hone in on either the screwball or the changeup.
For the most part, the Terps failed to make that change, as Trainer dominated again on Saturday with another complete-game win.
Maryland's lone offensive bright spot came in the fifth inning of game one on Saturday, when pinch-hitter Hannah Eslick hit a three-run triple, one of just two extra-base hits Maryland produced over the weekend and the only one against Trainer.
"She was trying to get everyone out with the rise ball," Eslick said. "I was looking zone down and she gave me a pitch that I was sitting on, so I just tried to capitalize on her mistake."
With Maryland hitters looking for off-speed pitches down in the zone, those high fastballs induced many swings-and-misses. Wright lamented the Terps' lack of patience.
With Indiana up 2-1 in the sixth inning of the final game of the series, Trainer came on in relief with nobody out and runners on first and third. She escaped the jam with two strikeouts and a popped-up bunt. Both strikeouts came on swings-and-misses against her high fastball.
"We didn't lay off pitches up," Wright said. "We worked on the screwball all week and we didn't lay off pitches up. We just didn't commit to our gameplan. If you lay off she doesn't throw many strikes, but we didn't and we took low pitches and you can't do that against a pitcher that good.