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.
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