Josh Ellis delivering a pitch at Applebee's Park

Lexington Herald-Leader (KY)
June 30, 2003
Section: Sports
Edition: Final
Page: D1

Mike Fields, Herald-Leader Staff Writer

From doubt to domination to Mr. Baseball.

That’s the improbable journey taken this year by Paul Dunbar pitching star Josh Ellis, who yesterday was named Mr. Baseball.
Ellis said Dunbar’s success as a team — it won a state-record 41 games and the state championship — was the reason he got the honor.

“If we’d gone out in the first round of the playoffs, or lost in the region, nobody would’ve thought of me as Mr. Baseball,” he said. “So it was a team effort that won this for me. It wasn’t an individual award.”

Ellis put up dominating numbers this season. He was 12-0 on the mound, and in 78 innings of work he gave up 39 hits, 26 walks, struck out 102 and had a 0.72 earned run average. He also played third base and hit cleanup the last month of the season, batting .277.

Not bad for a guy who six months ago wasn’t sure he would even play baseball this spring.

A standout

quarterback in football, he suffered a knee injury in Dunbar’s loss to Trinity in the Class 4A semifinals. He had surgery in December to repair a torn anterior cruciate ligament and faced months of rehabilitation.

After missing the first three weeks of the baseball season, he made his 2003 debut with a relief appearance on April 15. The next week he made his first start and had an impressive six-inning victory over Lafayette at Applebee’s Park.

It was a sign of things to come.

Ellis finished the regular season 6-0, then posted six more wins in the playoffs, including two in the state tournament at Applebee’s Park.

He went six innings in a 5-0 victory over Webster County in the quarterfinals. He came back three days later and went the distance in a 3-1 win over Male in the finals.

“There was some doubt I’d play this year, but I had a great surgeon and a lot of prayers,” Ellis said after the championship game. “The Lord blessed me to come back my senior year.”

Ellis, who has signed with Wake Forest, is the third Lexington player to win Mr. Baseball honors. Scott Hodges of Henry Clay won in 1997 and Austin Kearns of Lafayette in 1998.

Ellis is also the third player to lead his team to a state title and earn Mr. Baseball honors in the same year. Dion Newby of Harrison County did it in 1993, and Scott Downs of Pleasure Ridge Park in 1994.

“My only goal coming into this season was to work hard and do the best I could,” he said. “To win a state title and Mr. Baseball … I guess I overshot my goal.

“It feels great to know all the hard work paid off.”

Mr. Baseball is selected by the Kentucky High School Baseball Coaches Association.

It also named Mickey Marshall its coach of the year yesterday. Marshall guided Dunbar to a state-record 41 wins in his third season as head coach.

Mr. Baseball winners

2003 — Josh Ellis, Paul Dunbar

2002 — Brad Corley, Pleasure Ridge Park

2001 — Jeremy Sowers, Ballard

2000 — Spencer Graeter, Ballard

1999 — Joseph Blanton, Franklin-Simpson

1998 — Austin Kearns, Lafayette

1997 — Scott Hodges, Henry Clay

1996 — Aaron McGlone, Greenup County

1995 — Brad Wilkerson, Apollo

1994 — Scott Downs, Pleasure Ridge Park

1993 — Dion Newby, Harrison County

1992 — Shon Walker, Harrison County

1991 — Trever Miller, Trinity

1990 — Darren Burton, Pulaski County

1989 — Tab Brown, St. Xavier

(1) by HOBIE HILER – Josh Ellis had surgery in December to repair an ACL. He went 12-0 in his return.
(2) by MATT BARTON – Josh Ellis (center) went 6-0 in the regular season, then posted six more wins in the playoffs, including the win over Male for the title.