COLLEGE PARK, Md. – Lehigh’s softball season came to an end Saturday with an 11-0 five inning loss to Maryland in an elimination game at the NCAA College Park Regional at Taylor Stadium. The Terrapins tagged Lehigh pitching for 15 hits and capitalized on three Mountain Hawk errors as Lehigh was unable to carry over its strong defensive play from Friday’s game against Baylor.
The loss ends Lehigh’s season at 33-23, the Mountain Hawks’ eleventh straight year with at least 30 wins.
“We had gone almost a month without playing a bad game,” explained Lehigh head coach Fran Troyan. “I don’t know exactly why. Maybe we were feeling the pressure of playing an elimination game. We didn’t start very strong in the first inning and the wheels kind of came off and we lost focus.
Troyan continued, “All in all it was a great year. No team has ever handled the Patriot League tournament the way we did, but the fact of the matter is we’ll leave this regional a little disappointed.”
For the second straight day, the Mountain Hawks were limited to just two hits: a second inning leadoff double by sophomore Liz Lucas and a third inning infield single by senior Alex Cueva. Lucas finishes the season with a Lehigh and Patriot League single season record 21 doubles.
Lehigh played an errorless game in Friday’s loss to Baylor, but the Mountain Hawks defense wasn’t as sharp on Saturday, which resulted in three first inning Terrapin runs. Nikki Maier opened the scoring with a two-out RBI single through the left side, and the Terps lead increased to 3-0 when Kathy McLaughlin’s grounder to second got through Tenley Halaquist for a two-run error.
“We lost focus early on,” Troyan said of the defensive effort. “They put pressure on us a little bit. When you’re playing a good team like Maryland you have to play a clean game and we certainly didn’t do that.”
The Terrapins extended their lead with three more runs in the second, scoring the runs on five consecutive two out singles. Maier’s second RBI single scored Kerry Hickey with Maryland’s sixth run.
In the third, Maryland’s lead grew to 7-0 on Sara Acosta’s RBI single up the middle.
Sophomore Becca Bliss started for the Mountain Hawks and allowed seven runs (four earned) on 11 hits in three innings of work. Bliss struck out two and took the loss as her season finishes at 16-8.
Freshman Ashley Quigley came on to pitch the fourth inning and gave up a home run to Hickey to put the Terps up by eight. Troyan then brought in freshman Kelsey Lee to pitch the fifth but Maryland scored three more runs on a passed ball and a two-run triple by Candice Beards.
Kendra Knight earned the win for Maryland, as she allowed both hits and walked one while striking out seven. Ashley Czechner came out of the bullpen to record the final six outs. Six different Maryland players recorded two hits in the game.
Troyan concluded his postgame comments with his thoughts on Lehigh’s senior class, “Carly (Potock) was a great leader for us. Sam (Miller) was a great selfless player, and nobody in the history of our program has shown more heart than Alex Cueva so we’ll have big shoes to fill and hopefully we’ll be able to fill those shoes.”
The loss drops Lehigh to 6-14 all-time in NCAA Regional play. It marks just the second time Lehigh has lost via the eight-run rule in NCAA tournament action, and the first time since a 12-0 loss to Arizona in 2005.