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Chris Ellis appears to be back to his former self the last few weeks on the mound. The 6-foot-5, 195-pound senior at Spain Park High in Hoover, Ala., had a bit of a scare early this season.

Ellis, who committed to Ole Miss 16 months ago and signed last November, started the season off with a bang. His No. 1 ranked Spain Park High team faced No. 2 ranked Auburn High in the season opener before more than 30 major league scouts, some front office people, and several cross checkers.

And Ellis, who will be 19 on Sept. 22, was successful, getting the win and striking out 10. But it wasn't long before his pitching would be shelved for a while.

It had been a long week back in the early portion of his season. He'd worked especially hard for his team. He pitched seven innings on Monday, played third base on Tuesday. Was involved in a rain-shortened game on Wednesday playing third. That game resumed on Thursday and then there was a doubleheader to follow. He DH'ed in one and played some third and also some shortstop that same day.

Then on Saturday he pitched again, making it to the fifth inning when he felt something in his valuable pitching arm. He left the game, was checked out, even a few days later by Dr. James Andrews of Birmingham, and was told he had slight UCL strain but nothing major.

"I hurt my arm a little bit, and it was just a precautionary thing," he said. "I didn't want to tear anything, so I took some time off and let it heal completely. I came back before the playoffs."

He was told not to pitch for a while, and so he didn't. For nearly six weeks. He continued to DH for his team and came back to pitch just three weeks ago.

"I was fortunate not to have anything more or have to have surgery," he said. "It was terrible to have to sit on the bench and watch. That wasn't a good feeling."

Unfortunately for Ellis and his teammates, there was another bad feeling recently. Their highly-successful season of a school-record 37 wins ended with a two of three series Class 6A playoff loss Tuesday night to Huntsville High. But Ellis looked like he had earlier in the season.

He entered in relief and his fast ball topped out at 93 miles per hour. He threw several more pitches 91-92. But his team fell 6-5 in eight innings.

Ellis has a two-seam and four-seam fast ball, a circle changeup, a curveball, and a slider. Now that his high school season is over, he looks forward to arriving at Ole Miss for the fall. But there is one matter to deal with first, and that's the June draft.

"I'm just letting it all play out," said Ellis, whose parents both are from Mississippi and attended Ole Miss. "It would have to be some life-changing event where I didn't go to Ole Miss. I've always wanted to go there. But anything can happen, and we'll see what happens in June. It would have to be the first few rounds for me to go."

Ellis said he hasn't heard much about where he's projected given the way things played out this season.

"I really haven't talked to anybody about it yet," he said.

Ellis was 4-3 with a 3.00 ERA with 50 strikeouts in some 30 innings to pitch this season. He batted .400 most of the spring but fell off slightly at the end of the season. He had two home runs, two triples, and double-digit doubles.

Ole Miss hasn't necessarily said Ellis will hit as well as pitch. But with roster limitations these days, players like Matt Tracy, who can do both, are becoming a bit more common. Ellis is willing, if the Rebels need him to do both.

"I've just always been able to hit, along with my pitching," he said.

Ellis says he wants to be at Ole Miss and play for the Rebels. At this point, that's what he anticipates happening.

"I've always been an Ole Miss fan," he said. "I want to go to school and experience that. There's definitely a great chance (to be at Ole Miss). It would have to be some kind of crazy number (concerning the draft)."

Ellis is one of 15 signees for the upcoming school year for the Ole Miss Rebels. Eleven are high school seniors and four will be arriving from junior colleges.


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