Ashley Coles has been with Brittney Ellis as a pitching coach since Ellis was eight. Now, it’s come full circle as they enter their inaugural seasons at Newton High School. Ellis is a freshman pitcher for Newton and Coles is the Lady Rams’ head coach.
Coles, a former Eastside High School graduate, pitched at Georgia Perimeter before going on to pitch for Georgia State. While in college, Coles came back to Covington during the summer where she would provide pitching lessons for those who wanted them.
“Honestly I’m not really sure how they (the Ellis family) got my number. I’ve known of their family for a long time, because we all lived in Newton County,” Coles said. “They gave me a call one day and we started out doing lessons at Turner Lake and little different fields. I was in college at the time doing lessons for different girls.”
When Ellis’ parents introduced her to softball, it was to see if she liked it. Seven years later, she’s still playing.
“It started off just as a hobby,” Ellis said. “Over the years it’s become more of like a lifestyle because you do it every day and you do it so much you don’t really know anything else. You just know ball, and that’s it. Ball and school.”
Ellis recalls her sessions with Coles, “I remember going to her house when I was eight. We used to have to pitch behind the big trees and if you missed it you had to go get it,” Coles said.
“I like pitching with her,” Ellis added. “She teaches you a lot about fundamentals and she works mainly on your snaps and stuff. You don’t really have to worry about speed because that comes with it.”
Because Coles was in college at the time she wasn’t able to devote all of her time to Ellis, so they did lessons on and off for a few years. Coles came back after college and they’ve been working together ever since.
“Coming from an inexperienced eight year old to now a 15 year old, she’s obviously got a lot more control,” Coles said. “She’s grown into a smart young lady. She works hard. You can tell she’s got the competitive edge that it takes to be a pitcher. She doesn’t let things bother her too much on the mound.
“I’m proud of the growth of I’ve seen from the last year or so. She’s probably gone from a mile per hour faster than she was before and her movement’s increased a good bit.”
Coles says that she and Ellis have a big sister/mentor type of relationship, but it’s a different relationship when she’s coaching her at Newton than when she’s coaching her individually.
“It’s kind of odd when I’m coaching her here,” Coles said. “It’s a little different because it’s tougher and more organized. Where being her pitching coach she’s always called me Coach Ashley or Mrs. Ashley, and that’s basically it. Here she has to try to call me Coach Coles and have to have that level of professionalism. It’s really been sort of like a mentor/big sister type thing.”
“Our relationship’s grown because we’ve got close with each other and we spend every Monday with each other for an hour. So we joke around a lot and I’ve gotten to know her really well,” Ellis said.
Having the opportunity to see Ellis pitch, she’s already really good. She has real poise on the mound and a sort of unwavering confidence. Watching her pitch, you don’t think she’s a freshman, and that’s a good thing because she has plenty of time to grow and Coles knows that.
“I definitely think she can go to college to play softball. I would love for her to be at a Division 1 level,” Coles said. “She’d have to work really hard to increase her speed and we’re working on that. I think that can take her to the next level. She’s playing really competitive travel ball, so I don’t see why she would not be able to earn a scholarship in the next few years.”
Ellis said that she was glad Coles is her coach, and that she wants to stay in Georgia for college. Ellis’ dream is to go to Mercer University.
“I definitely wanna go to college to pitch, because it’ll help from what I’ve worked for,” Ellis said. “It’ll also help with the money situation, because I can get a scholarship and I don’t have to worry about none of that. That’s something we’ve been looking into a lot lately.”