Tolar leads Ellis to upset softball win

Published 2:12 pm Tuesday, May 9, 2023

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By Brian Pitts

Enterprise Record

Brianna Tolar delivered a monster performance – with the bat and in the circle – and Chris Callison closed his coaching career in storybook fashion as Ellis’ softball team upset South Davie in the conference tournament final.

Two days earlier in the semifinals, the second-seeded Jaguars led from start to finish in a 4-2 decision over No. 3 North Davie.

Ellis burst to a 2-0 lead in the bottom of the first. North pulled within 2-1 in the third, but Ellis regained firm control with a two-run fifth. North got its second run in the seventh.

Callison tipped his hat to the Wildcats, who put up a serious fight. “North played a good game,” he said. “They had a well-pitched game.”

Callison alternated two pitchers all season. The semifinal was Raegan Davis’ turn, and she did not disappoint. She went the distance and punctuated the victory with a defensive gem.

“Raegan was going toward first base and made a diving catch with a runner on first, and then she stepped on first (for a double play) to end the game,” Callison said.

Davis helped herself with a double and two runs in two at-bats. Tolar and Brylie Creel both went 1 for 3 as Ellis made the most of three hits.

Ellis swept North, winning 11-7 and 9-1 in the regular season.

Ellis 9, ND 1

South Davie seemed destined for a perfect season. The top-seeded Tigers entered the championship game with a spotless record, they took all three regular-season meetings from Ellis and they hosted the final on May 4.

But after going a less-than-stellar 5-6 in the regular season, the Jaguars captured an out-of-the-blue title thanks to a red-hot week.

“Nothing can take away the special season (South) had,” Callison said after Ellis ran away with a 9-1 victory. “They had a really, really good season. They were deserving (regular-season) champs. We just had a good week and we were the conference tournament champs.”

After Tolar and South’s Raney Phelps traded zeroes in the first three innings, the Jaguars (7-6) exploded for three runs in the top of the fourth. They poured it on late, scoring four in the sixth and two in the seventh.

“We kept preaching to the girls to continue to improve, continue to improve,” Callison said. “When the regular season ended, we said: ‘Be greedy but don’t expect anything. Go out there and work hard and earn everything we get and let’s give ourselves a chance.’ We played a really good game against South.”

The day belonged to Tolar, who pitched a four-hitter with one walk and 13 strikeouts. What’s more, she went 3 for 4 with two doubles and three runs. She nearly slammed Ellis’ first out-of-the-park homer of the season.

“She had a real good day hitting spots,” Callison said. “I had two very capable pitchers this season. I thought Brianna hit (a home run), but it hit off the fence.”

Davis went 2-4 with three runs and finished as the No. 1 hitter at .583. Karah Shore, Kate Nicholson, Lacie Tesnar, Lillyanne Simmons and Alexis Polk helped Ellis collect a season-high 10 hits.

Callison gave his defense credit for backing up the pitching efforts from Tolar and Davis.   

“Raegan made a diving catch in the first inning (against South),” Callison said of the shortstop. “She played really good defense. Alexis played a good second base. Karah played first base all year. Brylie did a good job behind the plate.”

Callison, who began coaching in 1992, went out with a bang. He was the receivers coach at Davie for 20-plus years. He spent seven years as Ellis’ softball coach. At the end of the school year, he is retiring from teaching and walking away from coaching.

“After 30 years, it’s been a great ride,” he said.

Notes: In the regular season, South beat Ellis 8-2, 11-3 and 4-3. … The Ellis roster included Aubrey Evans, Meridith Jones, Lily Tronsen and Kyndall Upright. … Callison’s assistants were Lisa Doss and Dylan Davis, who called pitches. “Both of them were very important pieces of what our team accomplished,” he said.