Ellis leads VHS to softball glory

Published 12:04 am Sunday, June 12, 2016

For the first time in Vicksburg High softball coach Brian Ellis’ career, he accomplished a distinguished honor.

Ellis has been with the Missy Gators for three seasons. In that span, he’s helped build a new field and then renovate it by adding a scoreboard and batting cages. He’s also led them to a pair of playoff series wins, including this year against Oxford, and is the 2016 Vicksburg Post Softball Coach of the Year.

“I’m honored that somebody is recognizing the things that I’ve done. It’s pretty cool,” Ellis said.

Email newsletter signup

Sign up for The Vicksburg Post's free newsletters

Check which newsletters you would like to receive
  • Vicksburg News: Sent daily at 5 am
  • Vicksburg Sports: Sent daily at 10 am
  • Vicksburg Living: Sent on 15th of each month

Before coming to Vicksburg from Neosho, Mo., he accumulated 20 years of experience between head coach and assistant positions. He spent another three years in Missouri, and prior to that was the head baseball coach at El Dorado Springs High School in Kansas.

Coaching became a career for Ellis by influence. He calls his high school football coach, Les Davis, his mentor and hero. The Kansas Hall of Fame coach retired at Ellis’ alma mater of Sedan High five wins shy of the state record in football while also coaching baseball and basketball.

“Very organized man. Just brought an aura to everything we did athletically. We were one of those schools that everybody knew was going to be at the state tournament every year in all three sports,” Ellis said. “It wasn’t that he was just this big, drill sergeant coach who would get in your face type of guy and everything else. It was family first.”

Up until the passing of Davis, Ellis spent many a late night conversing with him and soaking up wisdom.

Davis commanded respect from his players by being there for them when it was needed. When the time came for Ellis and his teammates to walk on the field with a chip on their shoulders, it was due to Davis having instilled an expectation of winning.

Ellis wants his players at Vicksburg to develop the same mentality.

“That’s one thing I’m trying to deal with the softball program here, is to get the girls year in and year out to come up here and expect to win in the playoffs,” Ellis said. “Regardless of what other people think, don’t listen to the outside stuff; what other people think. You know what it takes to get there and work harder each year.”

So far, it looks like the team his buying into Ellis’ expectations. The Missy Gators made it to the Class 5A playoffs each of the last two years, winning their first-round series against Center Hill in 2015 and Oxford this year.

Coming into the 2016 season, Ellis said he felt like the team would have a good season in spite of having six new starters with no extensive varsity experience.

The team returned starters Kelcey Lockridge, Shelby Muirhead, Olivia Oakes and Jada Sims, whom Myah’ Wright batted for during the season.

Wright led the team with a .333 batting average, and the pitcher Oakes signed with Hinds Community College.

“This was (Wright’s) third year to play the game, but her mindset and everything else was there and she was just fabulous for us,” Ellis said.

Ellis coached his team through a rollercoaster of a season.

There would be games when the team played “lights out” defense and found ways to score to win close ballgames. Other times, they would go an inning or two where mental mistakes led to errors and unearned runs.

But whenever the team believed in themselves, the result was positive.

“I’m happy the way the season turned out. I’m proud of them because I think they went above and beyond what they were expected to do when it comes to the outside stuff,” Ellis said. “(Assistant) Coach Hugh (Hasty) and I knew we were going to be pretty decent. We knew we were going to have opportunities to win ballgames just because of the amount of work the girls put in.”

Vicksburg Post Coaches of the Year

2016 – Brian Ellis, Vicksburg

2015 – Candice Reeder and Howard Park, St. Aloysius

2014 – Dana McGivney, Warren Central

2013 – Dana McGivney, Warren Central

2012 – Gene Rogillio, St. Aloysius

2011 – Amanda Yocum, Vicksburg

2010 – Dana McGivney, Warren Central

2009 – Dana McGivney, Warren Central

2008 – None

2007 – Amanda Yocum, Vicksburg/Porters Chapel

2006 – Chris Etheridge, Porters Chapel

2005 – Lucy Young, Warren Central

2004 – Kevin Griffin, Porters Chapel

2003 – Kevin Griffin, Porters Chapel

2002 – Gene Rogillio, St. Aloysius; and Lucy Young, WC

2001 – Gene Rogillio, St. Aloysius

2000 – Josh Harper, Vicksburg