The Maryland softball team couldn’t get out of its own way in its doubleheader losses to Michigan State on Friday, committing crucial errors in game one and failing to capitalize on a extra innings-forcing comeback in game two.
Michigan State loaded the bases with nobody out in the first inning of game one, but Terps starter Ryan Denhart seemed poised to escape unscathed after striking out the next Spartan and tagging another out trying to score on a wild pitch.
But with two outs, Spartans left fielder Ebonee Echols crushed a grand slam to right field to take a 4-0 lead.
Denhart again struggled with her control and paid for it in the second frame, allowing a three-run homer after a walk and an error put two runners on.
Coach Julie Wright called the first two innings of game one “a perfect storm of badness.”
Denhart settled in over the final five innings — not allowing a run over the span — but it was too little, too late.
Maryland cut the deficit to three with a three-run blast from second baseman Skylynne Ellazar in the fifth and an RBI single from right fielder Destiney Henderson in the next frame.
The Terps ultimately outhit Michigan State, 7-6, but were unable to overcome the early deficit, losing 7-4.
The Terps entered Friday with the most errors in the Big Ten and did themselves no favors with four errors in game one.
In game two, the Terps tightened up their defense and didn’t commit an error, but their offense couldn’t solve Spartans starter Kristina Zalewski in her second game of the day.
Zalewski pitched 4 ⅓ scoreless innings before left-hander Bridgette Rainey took over and continued to stymie the Terps’ offense, and the Spartans had a 3-0 lead headed to the bottom of the seventh.
But with two on and one out, Ellazar mashed a game-tying three-run homer, her second blast of the day and team-leading eighth of the year.
“Honestly, I was like ‘I can tie this game with one swing,’ Ellazar said. “That was just my mindset going in.”
Wright commended the senior’s performance in the first two games of what will be Ellazar’s final series in College Park.
“You can see it on the field, the passion and energy she plays with — she’s clutch,” Wright said. “I think she bleeds Maryland softball. She’s given a lot to the program over her career.”
Right-hander Sydney Golden started for the Terps in game two and pitched the first seven innings, allowing three runs and 11 hits, before Denhart took over in extra innings.
Unlike in game one, Denhart successfully escaped a bases loaded jam in the eighth, but the Spartans offense attacked yet again in the ninth. A walk on an illegal pitch and a single forced Wright to turn back to Golden.
The junior walked the next batter on four pitches and then gave up a two-run double to second baseman Melanie Baccay.
The Spartans added another run, and Zalewski re-entered in the bottom-half of the inning. A rain delay interrupted another comeback attempt from the Terps, but it fell short, and they dropped a back-and-forth nightcap, 6-5.
“It’s kind of fun that way, right? That’s why you play the game, to be in games like that,” said Wright. “I thought that game was really exciting and a lot of fun to watch and be a part of.”