USF acted quickly in suspending senior pitcher Leigh Ann Ellis for an altercation after Sunday’s game. However, the UAB coach doesn’t feel it was enough.
A statement released by the USF Athletic Department stated the senior pitcher was suspended for one game, which Ellis will serve in the first game of a doubleheader Saturday at home against Houston. The suspension was handed down by the team and agreed upon by the Athletic Department and Conference USA, according to USF senior associate athletic director Barbara Sparks-McGlinchy.
“We felt (a one-game suspension) was appropriate,” Sparks-McGlinchy said.
However, UAB Coach Marla Townsend feels otherwise.
“There is no punishment whatsoever being brought against Leigh Ann Ellis,” Townsend said.
A senior and the ace of the USF pitching staff, Ellis allegedly hit UAB outfielder Chelsea McCall while the teams were shaking hands on the field following the Bulls’ 8-0 victory on Sunday. Ellis pitched a one-hitter and struck out nine in the game.
Townsend believes a one-game suspension is too lenient for Ellis’ actions and plans to file a protest with C-USA on the decision.
However, what could be worse is Townsend said that McCall doesn’t feel the situation was dealt with properly. Townsend said that after the game, coaches discussed whether the incident was serious enough to warrant pressing charges, and Townsend said McCall was willing to let USF and C-USA handle the situation accordingly. But that may not be the case anymore.
No charges have been officially filed against Ellis, and Townsend said that pressing charges was “strictly up to Chelsea,” but that McCall “feels (the situation) was not handled (properly).”
Townsend said an Intent to Prosecute form was requested at the scene and was to be mailed to McCall. She would then have 10 days to send the paperwork back to initiate charges against Ellis, according to Townsend.
According to the USF Police Activity Report, a University Police officer was called to the scene at 2:58 p.m. to investigate a report of physical contact on the softball field. There were no arrests made at the scene, and the report stated charges will be filed with the State Attorney’s office.
Assistant State Attorney Pam Bondi said her office had received no information about the case and said that because no arrests were made at the scene or charges officially filed it would take an indefinite amount of time for her office to get the information.
Bondi added that it could also be several weeks before any charges may be brought against the person in question.
According to Townsend, the incident was initially sparked after a play in the second inning. In that inning, Townsend said USF second baseman Kattrina Dowd went in hard to third base with UAB shortstop Dusti Roberts covering on the play. After Dowd was called out, Townsend said Dowd tried to “knock over” Roberts. Townsend then said McCall, who was backing up the play in left field, made verbal remarks toward USF’s bench.
Townsend then said the USF bench responded back at McCall and proceeded to congratulate Dowd for essentially “trying to take (Roberts) out.”
USF Associate Head Coach Stacey Heintz said she remembered that incident in the game and remembered McCall walking toward the bench.
“I do remember her kid walking over, and at that point I don’t know what was said,” Heintz said.
When McCall came up to bat in the next inning, Townsend said Dowd went to talk to Ellis at the mound, and Ellis’ next pitch came inside on McCall. Though both coaches admit the pitch did not hit McCall, the umpire awarded her first base, which Heintz protested.
“I argued the ball was foul tipped,” Heintz said. “They felt like it tipped off her, but I thought it tipped off the bat.”
Townsend said McCall was talking softly to herself and looking back at Ellis on her way to first base but couldn’t make out what McCall was saying.
USF scored its eighth run in the fifth inning to end the game, and the altercation happened shortly thereafter while the two teams were shaking hands. Neither Heintz nor Townsend said she saw how the incident began, but after the two teams separated, Townsend saw McCall had a red mark near her left temple.
Heintz said because she didn’t see the incident she doesn’t “think it’s fair to comment on things I didn’t hear or see.
“My only comment is that there was unsportsmanlike conduct, both teams are guilty of it, and our administration and team (handled) it,” Heintz said.
Townsend said she was trying to figure out what happened when Ellis began to yell, “You want to know what happened; you want to know what happened? I hit her.”
Townsend said after the incident USF players were “re-enacting the scene in left field.” USF normally holds its team meetings after the game in left field.
Townsend said she has a lot of respect for Ellis and could not believe what transpired after the game. However, Townsend said the one-game suspension is not enough.
“She is receiving no punishment,” Townsend said.