When Yukon's Madi Ellis slid into home plate during a Memorial Day tournament after her sophomore year, she knew something was wrong.
Her right leg hurt.
“I shattered it,” Ellis said of her leg. “I slid a little too late and my cleat caught the plate.”
When she looked down, it was even worse. She saw her broken fibula sticking through the skin.
“It was just a little bitty poke above my sock but it freaked me out,” Ellis said. “I was about to pass out. It was bad.”
Ellis worried about whether she would be able to return to softball and what kind of player she'd be after she came back. She worried about whether colleges, which were recruiting her in droves even after she had committed to Oklahoma State as a sophomore, would be driven away.
“Normally, your junior year is when you get looked at the most,” Ellis said. “I was pretty devastated that I didn't have that summer and I didn't have that school-ball season, but at least I'd already committed.”
After missing virtually all of her junior year, Ellis returned with a vengeance as a senior.
In helping the Millerettes to a 30-7 record and a state tournament appearance, Ellis hit .528. She scored 38 runs and drove in 25 while moving from third base to catcher.
For her performance, Ellis is The Oklahoman's Big All-City Player of the Year.
“It was a really challenging year,” Ellis said. “With the team we had coming back, I don't think a lot of people expected us to get back to where we did.”
Ellis said she should've sat out her entire junior season, but she came back for regionals because she couldn't bear to be away from the game any longer.
“It killed me sitting on the bench,” she said. “It was awful.”
Now, Ellis could be looking at playing time early in Stillwater.
“I don't have any idea where I'll play,” Ellis said. “Hopefully third but maybe I'll catch a little bit. I'll do whatever I can. But I think if I can prove I can hit, that I'll play pretty quick.”
Ellis credits Yukon coach Heather Shanahan with getting her ready to play in college after the injury.
“She demanded more of us,” Ellis said. “Our previous coach kind of expected it, but we really didn't have any consequences. Coach, she makes sure every one of us was perfect in just about everything. I've never practiced that much in my life.”