Huskies knock out Panthers

WHEELING – Katie Ellzy did what Katie Ellzy does – and then some.

The highly touted Harrison Central pitcher struck out 10 and walked just two in the Huskies’ 5-1 win over Buckeye Local in an OVAC 4A semifinal on Friday.

Ellzy reached base in all four of her plate appearances – with a single, double, walk and hit by pitch – and also stole a pair of bases.

“She’s becoming more of a threat all-around,” said Huskies coach Donnie Bethel. “She’s a threat on the basepaths as she turned one into a double.”

“She was on tonight. She was bringing it and she wasn’t going to be denied.”

Ellzy, a junior, retired 11 of 12 batters from the end of the first inning through the midway point of the fifth. The Panthers scattered seven hits in the contest, though.

“You have to scratch for everything can get off her,” said Buckeye coach Joe Soos. “Ellzy has to be the best, at least top two, pitchers in the valley.”

Panthers’ pitcher Ivy Starcher went to the mound with strong acclaim, too. She struck out the first two batters in the bottom of the first inning and quickly recorded two strikes on the Huskies’ next batter, Shianne Nameth.

After fouling off the next four pitches, Nameth jumped on a pitch and drove in over the centerfield fence to open the scoring with a solo home run.

“Shianne hits that real hard to get us started,” Bethel said. “We were ready to play after that.

“Buckeye is a great ball club and they were ready tonight, too. We just caught them at the right time.”

Harrison (10-5) reached base safely in all six innings that it was at the plate. The Huskies scored again in the fifth inning on a Nameth sacrifice fly to center.

They added a pair in the sixth on RBI singles and another in the seventh with Alexia Dowdle scoring on a wild pitch.

They finished with seven hits, as well.

“I thought we played a solid ballgame,” Bethel said. “Pitching, defense, timely hitting. We put the ball in play real well.”

The Panthers did, too – in the sixth inning.

With two outs, Karlee Leonard started a rally with a single, followed by a Kierstyn Czuchran single.

Next, Lauren Swiger plated Leonard with a hit, followed by a Morgan Staten single.

A strikeout after that ended the frame.

“Our kids fought,” Soos said. “(Harrison’s) hits were a little bit stronger and more timely.

“If anyone is going to shut you down it’s going to be Ellzy.”

Bethel agreed.

“It’s very tough to beat Katie when she’s on and when we score five runs,” he said.

Buckeye, the No. 1 seed which now sits at 10-4, entered the semifinal as two-time defending OVAC champions. Earlier this season, Harrison beat the Panthers 1-0.

“I knew this was too good of a team,” Bethel said, “we couldn’t shut them out again.”

The Huskies now face Steubenville today at noon.

“Hopefully we bring the same ballgame,” Bethel said. I’ll be satisfied with that, whether we win or lose.”