When the Maryland softball team fell behind 7-1 in the sixth inning of the night cap against Rutgers on April 17, it seemed unlikely the Terps would be able to mount a comeback. Entering that day's double-header, coach Julie Wright's team had never won while playing from behind after five innings.
But Maryland's offensive struggles subsided, as the Terps put across six runs in the bottom of the frame. Then, in the seventh inning, first baseman Jacqui Pascual singled to right field to give the Terps an 8-7 walk-off win.
Having scored 13 runs in the double-header sweep, Maryland seemed poised to build on that offensive success against No. 14 Michigan. Instead, the Terps were left searching for answers against Michigan ace Meghan Beaubien.
In two complete games against Maryland, Beaubien silenced the Terps' bats, allowing just one hit and three total baserunners while picking up 18 strikeouts. On Sunday, the left-hander threw a six-inning no-hitter, her third of the season, frustrating a Maryland lineup that has struggled this season.
"She's just a good pitcher, she's got great spin," Maryland third baseman Brigette Nordberg said.
Even when Maryland hitters made contact, they had difficulty squaring up Beaubien's pitches. The freshman hurler allowed just three balls to escape the infield all weekend, and all of them resulted in outs.
"She throws the ball hard, and she has a really exceptional changeup," Wright said. "So when you're trying to gear up and be on time and she throws the changeup, she's really tough to hit, especially for left-handed hitters."
Beaubien's success against left-handed hitters continued against the Terps. In 13 innings against Beaubien, Maryland's lefties went 1-for-20 with eight strikeouts. The lone left-handers to reach base were second baseman Skylynne Ellazar, who bunted for a single on Friday, and center fielder Kassidy Cross, who drew a walk on Sunday.
Maryland's right-handed hitters didn't experience much more success against Beaubien, though. She struck out 10 Terps right-handers without allowing a hit or issuing a walk. The only right-handed baserunner on the weekend was designated player Hannah Eslick, who reached on an error on Friday.
Beaubien's success against the Terps wasn't uncharacteristic. As a freshman this season, she's been the best pitcher in the Big Ten — and one of the best in the country. She leads the conference with a 0.74 ERA, 201 strikeouts and 10 shutouts, and her 27 wins are the most in the nation.
It was the second time in as many weekends that an opposing ace dominated Maryland's lineup. Against Indiana, the Terps struck out 16 times and scored four runs against Hoosier's ace Tara Trainer.
Maryland will need to find a way to produce against top-level pitching in its last two series of the season against Ohio State and Michigan State. Buckeyes pitcher Morgan Ray and Spartans starter Kristina Zalewski will likely face the Terps at least once during that span. Ray has pitched to a 2.27 ERA this season, and Zalewski leads the Spartans pitching staff with a 2.33 ERA.
Despite Beaubien's dominance against their lineup, the Terps aren't discouraged.
"We were working a lot trying to see her pitches down in the zone, but she works with really good deception," Nordberg said. "She worked a lot of changeups in on us so hats off to her, because she was really good this weekend."