TWIN FALLS — Courtney Ellis has been working at batting left-handed for only a little more than a season. But since she started, she’s shown enough to grab plenty of college attention, particularly from College of Idaho coach Al Mendiola.
Ellis signed Wednesday to play softball for Mendiola and the Yotes starting in the 2015 season.
“I got to play for Al in a summer tournament, and I really liked him as a coach. Then he asked me to come up for a visit, and I really liked the campus,” said Ellis, a senior outfielder for Twin Falls. “That was where I wanted to go, so when they made the offer I was done. I wanted to know where I was going before the (high school) season.”
Ellis also pinpointed proximity to home and familiarity with some of the students — a number of Twin Falls athletes have signed to play in Caldwell in recent years — as key factors in her decision.
For Mendiola, Ellis could be a game-changer as the Yotes try to take their conference championship-caliber team to the next level.
“I know what kind of student-athletes Jessica (Pistole, the Twin Falls coach) develops, and Courtney certainly fits that,” said Mendiola, who began coaching against Pistole when the latter was named the head coach at Biola University in suburban Los Angeles 12 years ago.
“We were looking for a boost offensively, and Courtney gives us the left-handed bat toward the top of the lineup that we’ve been missing for two or three years,” he added.
Pistole hailed Ellis’ outfield prowess, but mentioned that her room for growth at the plate is what makes her game particularly appealing.
“She’s got speed, and she’s only been working on the left side for about a season,” Pistole said. “I think Al sees that and sees he’ll have four years to work with her and groom her. She can get the bunt down, she can slap it into the ground, she can slap for power and she can (purely) hit for power. As a left-handed hitter, if you can do all that, it’s hard to stop.”