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March 10, 2004
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. - The University of Maryland softball team will head to Tallahassee, Fla. this weekend to take part in the Florida State University Invitational. The Terps (8-7) will play four games before entering into bracket play Saturday, March 13 and Sunday, March 14 in the 15-team field. Each of Maryland's first four games will be played at Messer Park. Maryland will take on Georgia State (6-6) in its opening game this Friday at 2 p.m. Much like the Terrapins, the Panthers have a strong freshmen class. Their offense is led by freshmen Candace Jones (.393, 3 R, 1 RBI) and Alison Bradford (.364, 2 R, 4 RBI). Sophomore Meghan McCoy leads the team with eight RBI. Senior pitcher Andrea McNary (2-3) and McCoy (3-2) lead the pitching staff with a 1.20 ERA and a 1.73 ERA respectively. The teams have met three times before, with Georgia State taking each contest.
Later Friday afternoon at 4 p.m., Maryland will match-up against Troy State. The Trojans (11-10) are having an impressive offensive season so far, with junior first baseman Bonnie Berlin leading Trojan hitters with a .412 batting average. Junior Tamra Howren is sporting a .379 batting average and has driven in 21 runs for the Trojans. She has also slammed a team-high five home runs. The pitching staff is anchored by freshman Tara Blackwell (2-0, 1.39 ERA, 15 K), sophomore Laine Harcourt (4-6, 49 K, 2.76 ERA) and freshman Michelle Grinage (4-4, 22K, 3.43 ERA). The Terps are 3-1 all-time against the Trojans, winning the teams' last contest 8-5 at the Buzz Classic last season.
Maryland's tournament play will continue Saturday in a noon game against Notre Dame. The Irish (12-6) has been on the brink of breaking into the Top 25 all season. The team's offense is powered by junior outfielder Megan Ciolli (.382, 11 R, 7 SB). Ciolli is also listed on the USA Softball Player of the Year watch list. Sophomore infielder Meagan Ruthrauff provides the power for the Irish; she leads the team with 12 RBI and three home runs. Notre Dame's two starting pitchers are Heather Booth (5-2, 1.48 ERA, 66 K) and Steffany Stenglein (4-4, 2.66 ERA, 37 K). The game will be the third all-time between the two teams. The Irish have won the previous two.
Before entering bracket play, the Terrapins will take on No. 11/12 Michigan at 2 p.m. Saturday. The Wolverines (12-5) are coming off a week-long hiatus. Before the break, Michigan dropped its last two games to No. 20 South Carolina and No. 5 Oklahoma at the NFCA Leadoff Classic. In that week, sophomore Jennie Ritter was awarded Big Ten Pitcher of the Week for the second time this season. Currently, Ritter is 4-2 with a 1.06 ERA and 67 strikeouts. Her fellow pitcher, Nicole Motycka, is equally impressive at 6-3 with a 1.01 ERA. Junior shortstop Jessica Merchant provides the power for the Irish offense. She's hitting .319 with a team-high six home runs and 14 RBI. Michigan leads the all-time series, 1-0.
Before the start of the season, no one knew what to expect from an infield that included two freshmen on the right side of the diamond. Luckily for the Terrapins, first baseman Lindsay Klein (Orange, Calif.) and second baseman Keri Lounge (Pasadena, Md.) have made an instant impact both offensively and defensively. Lounge currently leads the team and is third in the ACC in batting (.391) and both are contributing to the power game with three combined home runs.
Both players have demonstrated their abilities to hit under pressure and in the clutch. Klein is sporting a .444 average when runners are in scoring position. Lounge is batting .400 in such scenarios.
The freshmen showed their power abilities during the USF Best Western-All Suites Hotels Tournament. Klein knocked her first career homer in the game against Temple on Feb. 21. The following day, Lounge smashed her first home run against Temple.
Klein was awarded all-tournament honors at the Golden Panthers adidas Tournament during the weekend of Feb. 27-29. The first baseman had four RBI in the tournament, including a three-run homer.
Lounge kept the Terps throughout the Georgia Softball Classic. The second baseman went 3-for-5 with three RBI and two runs scored against Winthrop (March 6) and also turned two unassisted double plays during the tournament.
GIVE GALL THE BALLSenior Liz Gall (Bothell, Wash.) has proved to be a dominant force on the Terrapin pitching staff this season. Although she's only started two games this season, she has been a force in relief for the Terps. The senior has struck out 15 batters and allowed only three hits in a four-inning relief effort against No. 7 Georgia.
Gall (2-1) threw four of five innings in a no-hitter against Rhode Island (Feb. 21). She tied her career-high strikeout total with seven.
As the only Terp pitcher with an ERA below 2.00. Gall ranks sixth in the ACC in pitching. Batters are also hitting a mere .220 off her, which places eighth in the conference.
HOT AT THE TOPJunior shortstop Nneka Cardoza (Brockton, Mass.) took over as the Terps' leadoff hitter at last week's Georgia Softball Classic. Cardoza has scored three runs since her move to the top of the lineup.
Cardoza is currently second on the team and seventh in the ACC with a .356 batting average. The shortstop is also among league leaders in on-base percentage (.442). She also leads Maryland regulars with a .471 average with runners in scoring position.
Along with teammate Klein, Cardoza received all-tournament honors at the Golden Panthers adidas Classic (Feb. 27-29). She batted .429 (6-for-14) and drove in two runs.
SPEEDY TWEEDYJunior left fielder Crystal Tweedy (Dumfries, Va.) has been able to jet down to first base twice in the past three games for infield or bunt singles. The outfielder currently leads all Terps with three stolen bases.
Tweedy's .326 batting average is tied for third on the Terps' team. She is batting .429 with runners on base and leads the team with 11 runs scored.
STRIKE 'EM OUTSenior Monica Cyphert (Warren, Ohio) and junior Jessica Aditays (Shrewsbury, Mass.) are tied for the team lead in strikeouts with 36 and are eighth in the ACC.
Cyphert (2-1) manages to strike out over nine batters per game on average, while Aditays (4-4) strikes out an average of six batters each game.
Cyphert struck out 11 UNC-Wilmington batters for a 5-4 complete game win (March 6). The strikeout total matched her season high, set Feb. 27 against Florida International.