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Series Preview: Indiana Softball hosts Maryland

Katie Lacefield applies the tag on Pudue’s Rachel Becker Wednesday at Andy Mohr Field (Kurt Spitler/HN).

Fresh off a doubleheader split against Purdue, the Indiana Hoosiers (29-14, 4-7 B1G) host the Maryland Terrapins (18-19, 2-7 B1G) for a three-game series this weekend at Andy Mohr Field.

Shonda Stanton’s ball club looks to regenerate momentum after falling 5-4 in nine innings on Wednesday night—the Hoosiers are in the middle of their longest conference home stand of the season (five games).  

Maryland finishes off a six-game road swing in Bloomington. The Terps lost two of three at Michigan State last weekend.  

Indiana has an opportunity to boost their win total and get back to basics on home turf against a bottom half conference opponent. Here’s your report on the Terrapins heading into the weekend.

Nuts and bolts

Julie Wright leads Maryland as head coach. The fourth-year manager paid her dues as Idaho State’s head coach for five years, and has slowly but surely adjusted her team for Big Ten competition since her arrival in 2016. The club clinched its first Big Ten tournament appearance in her tenure last season, and has sprinkled in single game wins over top programs like Florida and Michigan along the way. The Wright era in College Park has produced an overall record of 59-135-1.  

Maryland’s 2-7 conference record includes wins over Ohio State at home and Michigan State on the road last weekend. The club currently sits in 11th place in the conference standings – at this rate, that would be good enough to earn a second trip back to Andy Mohr Field in May for the Big Ten Tournament.

The Terps played an uneventful non-conference slate, notable results include a 10-0 run-rule defeat against Alabama, a 3-2 win over 2018 NCAA Tournament participant Bethune Cookman, and an 11-5 loss at North Carolina. Blend all those results together and you get an RPI that ranks 88th in the nation –Rutgers, Nebraska, Iowa, and Michigan State are the only other B1G teams that are lower.

The program has a pinch of history with four NCAA tournament appearances coming in 1999, 2010, 2011, and 2012. The latter three were under now Bethune-Cookman boss Laura Watten.

Maryland offense

All-conference pick Skylynne Ellazar graduated after last season, however the Terps offense hasn’t slowed down since. The club hits .304 as a team, third best in the Big Ten. Sophomores Sammie Stefan (.350, 5 HR, 25 RBI), and JoJo McRae (.337, 30 R) contribute to the attack and both are hot as of late.

Stefan is on a seven-game hit streak, going 10 for her last 21 with two home runs and 6 RBI. McCrae racked up 13 runs scored going seven-for-13 at the plate throughout the Michigan State series.

Power hitter Anna Kufta leads the team with five homers and 39 RBI, the junior has an RBI in six of her last eight Big Ten games.

Terps in the circle

The Maryland staff in the circle is lackluster, sporting a conference worst 5.26 team ERA. That number looks meaty enough for Indiana to feast on all weekend long – opponents also hit .310 against Terrapin arms.

Senior Sydney Golden (11-6, 3.63 ERA) figures to get the ball for most of the weekend—she has given up at least five hits in all five of her conference appearances.

It should be a prime opportunity for Indiana’s bats to take good cuts and find rhythm in the friendly confines of Andy Mohr. The Hoosiers have scored an average of three runs per game in Big Ten play if you take out the Michigan State series sweep at the end of March.

Keep your eyes peeled for the same offensive output against a struggling Maryland rotation—Indiana hung up 34 runs across three games against former pitching coach Ben Sorden’s young Spartan staff – this weekend hints at producing similar results, especially with the excitement of Little 500 buzzing throughout the athletics campus.

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