Why Summer Ellyson Can Be Even Better In 2019
The 2018 college softball season was certainly a special one for a Louisiana Ragin' Cajun pitcher.
To that Summer Ellyson put the softball world on notice that she was indeed the real deal would be an understatement.
Heading into the 2018 season, pitching was a major question mark for the Cajuns.
That was certainly understandable, as Louisiana had lost their top two pitchers from the season prior, including former All-American Alex Stewart, who graduated, and 2017 Sun Belt Conference Freshman of the Year Alyssa Denham, who elected to transfer.
Somebody was going to have to step up and become the next great Louisiana arm.
Enter Summer Ellyson.
The former Teurlings Catholic product, who redshirted in 2016, prior to pitching sparingly in 2017, became the undisputed ace of the staff in 2018.
It didn't take her long either, as her first start of the season, on February 9, in the Mardi Gras Classic, was the beginning of an incredibly successful campaign.
Ellyson was dominant in a 7-1 win over Evansville, limiting the Aces to three hits, while striking out a school record 20 batters in a 7-inning game.
Think about that for a second; 20 K's in a 7-inning game. That means that the only way anybody is going to ever eclipse her record would be to record every single out in a 7-inning game via a strikeout.
There were some people who had high hopes for Ellyson going into the season, but few predicted that amazing performance against Evansville, and even fewer predicted the incredible season that she would go on to have.
A first Team All-Sun Belt, All-Louisiana selection, Ellyson went 23-10 in 2018, to go along with a sparkling 1.53 ERA.
Ellyson joined the likes of former UL greats such as Stewart, Christina Hamilton, Ashley Brignac, and Brooke Mitchell as the unquestioned ace of the staff, who carried the Cajuns to numerous victories, while receiving numerous accolades.
Now, the question is; can she do it again?
Most people, when a player has a great freshman and/or sophomore season, in any sport, would be tempted to say "yes", simply because they automatically assume that because the player is good at a younger age, that he/she will be better at an older age.
But it doesn't always work out like that.
As a matter of fact, when it comes to softball pitching, it is quite the contrary, as most don't repeat the prior year.
The reason is simple; hitters adjust to them.
Understand; when I say they don't normally repeat the previous year, I don't mean that they become bad pitchers, just that they don't repeat, or eclipse.
They are normally the same pitchers, in terms of delivery, number of pitches, etc., that they were the previous year.
And that's certainly understandable. If I was a great pitcher, who had tremendous success, and somebody was telling me to do certain things, my first thought would be; "Why? if it's not broke, don't fix it."
But there are some great hitters, and some great coaches in college softball, and given time, they'll adjust to you.
What I've seen from Summer Ellyson so far in the fall leads me to believe that she can match, and even eclipse what she did last year.
The reason is very simple; a change-up.
Ellyson began working on a change last year with former assistant coach Courtnay Foster, and continues to improve with it under the direction of new pitching coach Mike Roberts.
Admittedly, I have only seen only one fall game, but from what I saw against McNeese last Thursday, I'm convinced Ellyson will be even better in 2019.
Look; it's fall ball...you can't put too much emphasis on games that don't count, but I saw Ellyson throw multiple change-ups in her six innings of work, and she threw them with confidence, for strikes, on different counts.
Most importantly, she kept the hitters off-balance, and made her other pitches better.
Ellyson only threw her change a couple of times last year. This year, it may be another "out pitch" fer her.
Kudos to Summer for being open-minded enough to accept the fact she needed to add the change. A lot of pitchers who were as good as her wouldn't be.
Also credit her with putting in the time and effort make it another good pitch she can throw, and working to become an even better pitcher.
Ellyson grew up in a softball world, playing for her dad, who coached a very successful travel ball squad, so maybe that has something to do with it.
Look; Ellyson didn't need to add a change-up to become good pitcher...she already was.
I certainly would have taken another 23-win season, along with a sub 2.00 ERA. from her again this year.
But now, with that change, and her work ethic, Ellyson may very well become an All-American in 2019.