By Maren Angus
When the University of Louisiana’s Summer Ellyson steps up to the rubber, she takes a deep breath and continues singing whatever song was playing over the speakers to begin the inning. It’s how she remains calm in high-pressure situations.
“I just go out there and have fun,” said Ellyson. “I try not to stress about it. I’m just out there playing like I did when I was little.”
She was named the Sun Belt Conference’s Pitcher of the Week for the second time in her career on Tuesday with a 4-0 record and a 0.28 earned run average. Ellyson held Texas State, Georgia Southern and McNeesse State to a .163 average, 15 hits and 20 strikeouts.
The right-hander exudes confidence. She has gone toe-to-toe with the some of the best and come out on the winning end against teams like Oregon State, Florida and Texas State. Not to mention her first appearance of 2018 was a 20-strikeout gem against Evansville.
“The Florida game was really fun to play in. To go through the lineup five times and hold them was a really cool experience,” she said. “The atmosphere was crazy. It was probably the most fun game I’ve ever been a part of.”
A Lafayette-native, Ellyson redshirted her freshman year on campus. Last year, she pitched 20 innings in 12 appearances. When then-head coach Mike Lotief was fired and the program lost its ace Alyssa Denham, Ellyson knew it was her turn and has exceeded any and all expectations.
“What she’s doing now is a testament to who she has worked with previously,” said pitching coach Ellen Renfroe-Reed. “We’ve been able to build on that, help her fine tune that, figure out what she’s good at and how she’s going to get people out.”
In 159.2 innings pitched this season, Ellyson has figured out a way to get people out. In a conference where most think of Texas State’s Randi Rupp, who was just taken fourth overall in the NPF College Draft, Ellyson has proven time and time again that she is just as good.
Conference-wise she is first in opposing batting average (1.69), hits allowed (96) and runs allowed (46). She is tied with Rupp for earned runs allowed (36) and trails Rupp in categories such as ERA (1.58), wins (17), innings pitched and strikeouts (152).
“She’s been phenomenal and won games in different ways,” said head coach Gerry Glasco. “She’s won by
striking out people, she’s won by going the distance, relief appearances and starting. She goes out there and gives us all she’s got.”
The No. 21/22 Ragin’ Cajuns have a road series this weekend at UT Arlington before returning home to close out the regular series against Louisiana Monroe and hosting the Sun Belt Conference Tournament. They will most likely return to the NCAA Tournament regardless of how they finish in the tournament and Ellyson will once again be in a new kind of spotlight.
But with a song in her head and a deep breath, she can handle any challenge that comes her way for years to come.