CADIZ - After just two seasons as the starting pitcher for Harrison Central, Robert Morris University had seen enough to offer Katie Ellzy a scholarship.
And the Huskies' junior-to-be accepted with open arms.
"It was a big decision," she said of her verbal to the Colonials, who are members of the Northeast Conference and compete at the NCAA Division I level. "It was tough to pass up the great opportunity.
"I've always wanted to play Division I softball, nothing less," she explained. "However, I was shocked when Robert Morris offered me, but I kind of saw it coming."
That's because of all the exposure she receives from playing travel ball all summer for Team Pennsylvania.
"We went to South Dakota last summer," she said. "It was fun."
Ellzy started her softball career when she was in kindergarten. However, she wasn't always a pitcher.
"I actually started out as a catcher and went to several camps for catching until I realized I wanted to be a pitcher instead," she allowed.
Despite having two years left in high school, Ellzy is already starting to prepare for the collegiate level.
"I'm learning new pitches and getting stronger," she added. "I have four pitches now, so I need to learn about three more. That's basically what a good college pitcher has. You need a lot of speed and movement on your pitches."
Ellzy didn't hesitate when asked of she idolized any pitcher in the college game right now.
"Keilani Ricketts of Oklahoma," she replied. "She's a monster out there, and she's really good."
As a freshman, Ellzy burst onto the high school scene as she compiled a deceiving 16-8-1 mark inside the circle. She struck out 200 batters and charted a 1.20 ERA, allowing 45 total runs in 25 games.
She tossed three no-hitters and half-a-dozen one-hitters. In the eight setbacks, the Huskies were shutout six times. She gave up three hits or less 16 times, and only gave up more than three on a trio of occasions.
At the plate, she hit a robust .340 with 31 hits, five of which were home runs. She knocked in 20 runs.
She earned first team status on the All-Eastern District, All-OVAC Class 4A and All-Buckeye 8.
In her just-completed sophomore campaign, the hard-throwing righty didn't show any signs of slowing down. She hurled the Huskies to a 17-8 mark, which included trips to the Division III sectional finals and the OVAC Class 4A Tournament semifinals.
Her ERA was 1.66 as she struck out 173 batters in 160 innings. She only walked 24 opponents. At the plate, she smacked the cover off the ball at a .463 clip, which included a school-record 37 hits. Four of those were home runs. She finished with 31 runs batted in and hit a nifty .606 with runners in scoring position.
She was an all-state Buckeye 8, OVAC Class 4A and Eastern District first team selection as a sophomore. She shared the OVAC Class 4A Player of the Year award with Buckeye Local's Lauren Swiger.
"I couldn't have asked for any more than what I've got out of Katie in just two years," Harrison Central head coach Donnie Bethel said. "She has showed that she is one of the top pitchers in the OVAC, and she will only get better.
"Her presence on the mound and at the plate would be good for a senior, so she obviously has a bright future ahead of her," Bethel continued.
"I told everyone at our banquet that our team goes as Katie Ellzy goes," Bethel added. "But that's not any different than other teams with a really good pitcher.
"I think Katie will only get better, and I think that is what Robert Morris saw in her ... potential," Bethel noted. "Regardless of what school she went to, someone was going to find her."
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