Maryland softball infielder Skylynne Ellazar recorded a combined two home runs and six RBIs in two losses to Michigan State during Friday’s doubleheader. So on Saturday, the Spartans attempted to limit her productivity. They intentionally walked her four times, spoiling her senior day.
Including a hit-by-pitch in the first inning, Ellazar had five plate appearances and scored twice without recording an official at-bat.
“It’s a lot of respect for her, what she did yesterday and what she continues to do,” coach Julie Wright said. “I hate it for her because it’s her senior day. … They were smart, but it just stinks because you want her to be able to swing it.”
Ellazar and outfielder Kassidy Cross both produced for the Terps in their three losses to the Spartans, helping Maryland orchestrate its best scoring weekend this season.
Despite being swept, the Terps scored 21 runs, including a season-high 12 in Saturday’s 15-12 defeat. Maryland’s offensive outburst came as it prepares to face Illinois on Thursday in the first round of the Big Ten tournament.
Having scored five or more runs in six conference games entering the weekend, Maryland did so twice against Michigan State. The 21 runs matched the Terps’ total from their previous four Big Ten weekend series, as Ellazar and Cross notably proved to be difficult outs for the Spartans’ staff.
In her final home series, Ellazar went 3-for-8, including her six RBIs Friday. Ellazar’s productive weekend solidified her team leads in batting average, home runs and slugging percentage. Her game-tying three-run homer in the seventh inning of the nightcap on Friday provided the Terps with a spark.
“I was looking for a ball I could take over the fence,” Ellazar said. “I was just thinking, ‘I can tie this game with one swing of the bat.'”
Cross, meanwhile, continued her torrid end to the regular season. After going 5-for-9 last weekend at Ohio State, Cross went 5-for-12 with five RBIs against the Spartans. Batting second on Saturday, Cross hit a three-run home run, capitalizing on Michigan State’s decision to intentionally walk Ellazar.
Cross thought she had scored Ellazar with a bunt and an error in the first inning of Saturday’s game but was called out for running out of the baseline, causing Ellazar to return to first base. Still, Cross was able to continue her offensive success in Big Ten play. She’s batted .267 on the season, but her in-conference average is a team-best .326.
Ellazar, Cross and the rest of the Terps will be pressed to replicate their weekend production against the Fighting Illini, who boast two starters with sub-four ERAs.
“I kind of took my previous at-bats coming into today,” Cross said. “I remembered what they threw me. In a clutch situation, I can use a little bit of everything I had. … I mean, I got to score Sky so that made me feel a little bit better about it.”
CORRECTION: Due to an editing error, a previous version of the excerpt on this story incorrectly indicated Kassidy Cross went 5-for-10 against Michigan State. She went 5-for-12. This article has been updated.