Changes help Huskies’ Ellzy to surpass 1,000 points

CADIZ – Transitions in softball and basketball have allowed Katie Ellzy to do great things in each sport.

In softball, she started out as a catcher. Over the years she went to pitching camps, primarily to improve her skills behind the plate. But after a knee injury in junior high, Ellzy went from the backstop to the mound and became a full-time pitcher.

It led her to a scholarship to play softball at Robert Morris University.

In basketball, Ellzy was actually a point guard starting out. She was the best ball-handler in middle school and junior high. That changed quickly in high school, though.

“Coach (Nick) Yourkovich told me at my first practice that I’d never have to be a point guard again,” said the 5-foot-10 Harrison Central junior. “I was going to be playing a lot inside.”

It led her to 1,000 points, already, in a three-year high school career.

On Feb. 16, Ellzy scored 24 points in a 64-52 win over Monroe Central in a Division III sectional opener at Dover.

No. 1,000 came in the fourth quarter on her 21st point of the night. Ellzy brought down an offensive rebound and took it straight back for a layup to give the Huskies as comfortable 51-38 lead with five minutes remaining.

“Once I got it, I was excited,” she said. “I saw my points on the scoreboard and when it came down to it, it was a huge weight off my shoulder. I was nervous the whole time.

“I really wanted it to happen my junior year to be the first one in school history to get 1,000 as a junior. It was a goal we were all looking forward to and I couldn’t have done it without my teammtes.”

Harrison Central recorded a 20-5 record in 2013-14, the most in program history. It also captured its first Ohio Valley Athletic Conference 4A title and advanced to the Eastern District semifinals for the first time.

However, it was the Huskies’ demeanor off the court which aided their play on in the most.

“Our relationship outside of basketball really helped us,” Ellzy said. “We all got along very well and each made the same goals for the season. We played as a team and were more like a family than ever before.”

Yourkovich, the fifth-year head coach, stepped down from the Harrison Central football staff in the offseason and focused on more basketball drills with the girls in the summer.

“He was always there working with and doing new things with the offense,” Ellzy said. “It really helped out having him there early on and we were more comfortable with everything as the season started.”

Ellzy ended her junior campaign with 17.9 points and seven rebounds per game – numbers that were actually down from her output as a sophomore.

“She sort of let some of the scoring go somewhere else,” Yourkovich said. “Katie is the ultimate team player and we had a lot of other girls step up to have the season that we did.

“As a team, being able to some things we did this year, that’s going to give us even more confidence. They know those things can be accomplish.”

Such as Ellzy’s 1,000-point milestone and third team award on the all-state team.

“She was a 57-percent shooter, this season,” Yourkovich said. “That’s a big improvement for her. She’s just been steady – being consistent for three years has allowed her to do what she has, offensively and defensively. We know what we were going to get from Katie because she’s been able to be so good so early.

“She stepped into starting lineup halfway in her freshman year and took off from there.”

Ellzy followed in the equally sizeable footsteps of Madison Richards, who was a senior when Ellzy was a freshman.

Richards was a Division III All-State honorable mention after averaging nearly 20 points in the 2011-12 season.

“I was very nervous and I knew I had big shoes to fill with Madison graduating,” Ellzy said. “She worked with me and made me the player I am now. She taught me a lot. Being a freshman and a new post player, altogether, she taught me a whole lot about playing inside.”

Yourkovich says Ellzy is one of the best athletes he’s coached, which makes her credentials as a successful two-sport athlete even more viable.

“Her footwork and touch around the basket allow her to be a force,” Yourkovich said. “She can jump and run, too.

“Playing at such a high level in softball has made her confident on the court.”

As a member of Team Pennsylvania traveling softball, Ellzy has been as far south as Florida and as far west as South Dakota for summer games.

Last spring, she struck out 173 batters in 160 innings on the mound for Harrison Central. Her earned run average was 1.66, but Ellzy is equally strong at the plate with a .463 batting average and school record 37 hits in a season.

“As soon as Robert Morris gave me an offer, I couldn’t pass it up,” she said. “It’s really close to home, which is great, because I didn’t want to go away too far. It was a big weight off my shoulders knowing where I want to go and be secure for college.”

Still, it’s hard to shed the basketball player image.

“The main thing is my height,” Ellzy said. “As soon as someone new sees me they’ll say, ‘Oh, you must be really good at basketball,’ not knowing that I’m more comfortable with softball and that I’m better at it.”