When Maryland Softball lost a heartbreaker to Indiana on Saturday, it was because the offensive stalled again. The Terps managed just one run, a solo shot from Amelia Lech before Keira Bucher failed to close the door in the last inning and lost two runs in the last inning.
Pitching had been excellent, however, as Courtney Wyche had closed out the solid Hoosiers offense by 5.2 innings.
As Indiana totaled 26 runs over the next two games, coach Mark Montgomery was puzzled by Terps’ dismal pitching effort.
“If I understand [the pitching struggles]I would probably make a lot more money doing something else,” Montgomery said.
Seniors Trinity Schlotterbeck and Wyche started every game for the Terps at Bloomington and fought mightily in the last two games of the series, totaling 15 earned runs in six innings. Overall, the seniors gave up a total of 20 runs over the weekend.
Schlotterbeck has struggled in two of her last three starts. After starting the year very well, the senior has allowed a total of 12 earned runs in just 4.1 innings for Texas Tech and Indiana.
[Courtney Wyche’s perfect game falls just short in Maryland softball’s 10-0 win over UMES]
Between the two games was Schlotterbeck’s start against Bucknell. The Bison were only able to secure four hits when Schlotterbeck faded out Bucknell in 6.1 innings.
Therein lies the paradox with pitching the terps.
Maryland has dominated lower-level teams by overwhelming them with its veteran-led pitching staff. Against non-Power Five Conference opponents, the Terps allow for a tiny 1.12 runs per game, including eight shutouts.
On the other hand, this number increases exponentially when Maryland faces Power Five opponents. When the Terps face these teams, they allow about five runs per game, a nearly four-run difference.
“We have to get tougher mentally, we have to be able to have bad moments and not bad games,” Montgomery said.
In particular, there is a drastic difference between Schlotterbeck when it comes to power conference opponents and non-power five teams. Prior to the Texas Tech game, the seniors’ season ERA was 1.63. After last weekend’s game against Indiana, her ERA jumped almost a full run to 2.62.
Of the 29 runs Schlotterbeck has allowed this season, only five have come against non-Power Five teams. The senior has struggled to face higher quality offenses as demonstrated against the Red Raiders and Hoosiers.
[No. 24 Maryland softball walked off by Indiana in 2-1 loss]
“Indiana is bigger, faster and stronger than Bucknell… 1680152023 They’re just trying to be perfect, and that’s the ball that gets hit,” Montgomery said.
Meanwhile, Wyche has given up 32 runs to power conference opponents in 43.2 innings this year, averaging 0.73 runs per inning. The senior gave up six runs to Oklahoma State, eight to Indiana and four to Baylor.
Dynamic attacks from Indiana and Texas Tech also propelled them, with each team averaging over .325 combined batting averages. Both have dynamic offenses as each team has a combined batting average of over .325 a year.
The Hoosiers, in particular, have the best offense in the Big Ten as they lead the conference in RBIs and batting averages. Indiana was able to capitalize on the seniors’ mistakes on the mound and string together big innings – something Maryland’s offense has struggled with this season.
Improving pitching against good offense is paramount if the Terps are to fight for a Big Ten title. Maryland’s pitching will go as far as her two older starters take, and it will be up to Wyche and Schlotterbeck to improve against high-profile lineups.