ST. CLAIRSVILLE - Harrison Central junior pitcher Katie Ellzy verbally committed to Robert Morris University nearly a year ago.
She showed exactly what the Division I Colonials saw in her in the Division III sectional tournament Wednesday afternoon at the Market Street Fields.
Ellzy was absolutely brilliant in leading the Huskies to a 2-1 victory against Union Local. The victory sends Harrison Central to Friday afternoon's district semifinal against St. Clairsville, which dispatched top-seeded Martins Ferry in the opening game of the day.
HARRISON CENTRAL ace Katie Ellzy delivers to the plate during Wednesday’s Division III?softball game in St. Clairsville against Union Local. Ellzy struck out 18 in leading Harrison to the 2-1 victory.
"Katie had a monster game," Harrison Central head coach Donnie Bethel said. "When she's on, hitting her spots and focused, she's awful tough to hit against."
Union Local, which had beaten Elly and Harrison Central twice during the regular season, left the diamond for the final time this spring without a doubt of how tough Ellzy can be.
The Jets mustered just two hits, had four total baserunners and put the ball in play just five times in the seven innings.
"I felt good today," Ellzy said. "I was definitely ready to pitch, especially since they had beaten us twice. I know I have to continue to pitch well to help lead the team. Have to give it to Union Local because they're good hitters, so I just knew I had to keep throwing hard."
Ellzy fanned a season-high 18 batters, including striking out the side in four innings.
"All hats off to Harrison Central," Union Local head coach Roger Herbert said. "In my opion, Harrison has the best pitcher we've faced all year. Obviously, the 18 Ks is outstanding, but I am proud of how we played. We gave Harrison Central all it wanted, but just couldn't get enough going offensively."
The Huskies pushed a run across in the home half of the first after Courtney Dowdle drew a leadoff walk and advanced to second and then to third on wild pitches. Hard-hitting shortstop Paige Dunlap promptly singled her home.
Union Local knotted the game in the fourth without the luxury of a hit. Amanda Swallie was plunked with one out in the fourth. She advanced to second on a wild pitch, third on a groundout and then raced home on another wild pitch.
However, from that point on, Ellzy was untouchable outside of a single from senior Cori Medley in the sixth.
Harrison Central took the lead in the fifth. Dunlap and Shianne Nameth posted back-to-back singles to open the frame. After a sacrifice bunt by Kara Dunfee, Herbert elected to intentionally walk Ellzy with the open base.
After a strikeout, Paige Richards worked the count full and eventually walked, forcing Dunlap home.
"We scratched across a couple of runs," Bethel said. "I didn't think we hit the ball that badly. Katie Ellzy, flat out, wanted to win this game in the worst way and she wasn't going to be denied."
Union Local's Alli DeLaney was the tough-luck losing pitcher. She allowed just six hits. She fanned three and walked five.
Medley, whose brilliant prep sporting career came to an end, had both Jets' hits in the game.
Union Local 000 100 0 - 1 2 1
Harrison Central 100 010 x - 2 6 0
UL - DeLaney lp (3K, 4W) and Medley. Medley 2S.
HC - Ellzy wp (18K, 1W) and Jones. Dunlap 3S, rbi; Nameth 2S; Richards rbi
Staskey can be reached at email@example.com