Summer Ellyson Impressed In A Big Way With Win Over Florida
There have been better pitching performances at Lamson Park, but you'd be hard-pressed a more gutsy one.
Louisiana Ragin' Cajun sophomore right-hander Summer Ellyson tossed the most memorable game in her still young career on Sunday, defeating the second-ranked Florida Gators, 4-3, in 11 innings, at Lamson Park.
And to say that's her most memorable game is saying something, considering just nine days earlier Ellyson set a school record for a 7-inning game, striking out 20 batters in a win over Evansville in the second day of play in the Mardi Gras Classic.
But Florida is a different animal.
We're talking about a team that won back-to-back national championships in 2014 and 2015, was the runner-up last year, after winning the SEC title and 58 games, and entered Sunday unbeaten.
Florida, who only lost three road games all of last season, returns 8 starters off of that squad.
The Gators won the first two games of the series, sweeping a doubleheader from UL by scores of 4-0 and 9-0, and when Amanda Lorenz singled home two runs with two outs in the top half of the second inning, some people may have begun to wonder if it just wouldn't be the Cajuns' weekend.
When you've lost the first two games of a series against the #2 team in the land, and fall behind 2-0 in the final game, being outscored 15-0 in the series, you need somebody to step up.
Well, Ellyson stepped up, big time, keeping her team in the game.
Florida left two on in the third, before Alissa Dalton drove home two runs with a single in the bottom half of the third inning to tie things up, 2-2.
That's when Ellyson turned things up a notch.
From innings 4-7, Ellyson didn't allow a hit, keeping Florida off the scoreboard.
In the top of the 8th, the Cajuns received a scare, when Florida right-fielder Jordan Matthews just missed a home run, flying out to deep right-centerfield.
Louisiana had a chance to win it in the bottom half of the 9th inning, with runners at second and third with only one out, but failed to score.
Again, that's a situation where a pitcher might become frustrated, and might use fatigue, and the opponent, as an excuse.
Ellyson however, despite facing the top part of the Florida batting order in the top of the 10th, continued to twirl a gem, coaxing Florida catcher Janell Wheaton to bounce to third with runners at first and second to end the top of the 10th.
The Gators were able to plate a run in the top half of the 11th, but Ellyson didn't let that one run bother her, as she retired Lorenz for the last out of the frame, giving her team a chance.
And her teammates took advantage of that chance, scoring two runs in the bottom of the 11th, courtesy of a dramatic two-run walk-off homer by freshman Casidy Chaumont, to give them the exciting 4-3 win.
Chaumont will get a lot of praise for the home run, and rightfully so, but Ellyson deserves all of the accolades that comes her way.
Here's a young lady that had only thrown 33.2 career innings entering the game, and yet held the second-ranked team in the country to only two runs over 11 innings.
Was it a perfect pitching performance? No, not by any stretch of the imagination, as she walked 6.
But Ellyson battled, never let the moment get to her, and never once backed down.
She pitched with a confidence that spilled over onto the field, and infected her teammates.
Ellyson trusted herself, along with her teammates, was going to make Florida beat her; something they couldn't do.
You don't beat a team like Florida pitching scared, and Ellyson was anything but on Sunday.
She ended up throwing an amazing 185 pitches, while facing Lorenz, the Florida leadoff hitter, and an All-American, 6 times.
Was the win over Florida a great win? Oh yeah! Without question!
But it's still real early in the season, and teams are still learning about themselves.
One thing we've learned already, something maybe even more important than any early season win or loss, against any team, is that Summer Ellyson has the heart of a lion, which will help translate into more wins, for both her and the team, as the year goes along.
We know that no moment is going to be too big for Ellyson.
You hate to go overboard on one game, but that is the type of performance that could define an individual career, and define the personality of a team.
To say it's impressive would be a huge understatement.
It was a great win for Louisiana on Sunday, but it was an incredibly inspiring outing by Ellyson, one that could mean more in the long run than it does now.
11 innings pitched...185 pitches...and a win over an elite program.
That was an amazingly gutsy performance by Ellyson on Sunday; one that I'll remember for a long time.