Maturity and focus leading the way for Ashley Ridge softball
By David Shelton
Summerville – Could it be the stars are aligning for the Ashley Ridge softball team in 2017?
Ashley Ridge seems to have all the necessary ingredients to make a strong run at the AAAAA state championship this spring. Second-year head coach Larissa Shannon, who guided the program to a 15-3 record last season, feels this year’s team is better in every way.
The Swamp Foxes entered last year’s AAAA playoffs as the region champions and a number one seed. However, an upset loss early in the district bracket forced Ashley Ridge to come from behind in their effort to advance. That effort came up short in a loss to Lexington in the district finals.
“I think every member of this team remembers what that felt like last year,” Shannon said. “We definitely felt we were better than we played. I think it taught us a great lesson to never take any team lightly. To go into every game with the right focus and mindset.”
So far this season, Ashley Ridge has had no issues with focus. The Swamp Foxes are off to a 10-0 start in region 7-AAAAA and appear headed for another region title. Shannon sees a more mature approach to the season from this year’s team.
“We have good talent and good experience but this team also seems to have a great attitude and they come to work every day,” Shannon said. “We also have great leadership from our five seniors. This team has played hard in every game against a very competitive region.”
Ashley Ridge has solid pitching with senior Camryn Alverson and sophomore Katie Freeman handling the duties in the circle. Alverson, a Presbyterian signee, was the region player of the year in 2016 and is again one of the top players in the lower state. The pair of hard throwers share the pitching duties equally.
“Having two girls who can go out and dominate a game in the circle is a big advantage we feel,” Shannon said. “But I think we are a good offensive team as well. We are good one through nine and I don’t feel we have a weak spot anywhere in our lineup.”
Alverson provides much of the power in the batting order but senior Taylor Deleon sets the table offensively from the leadoff spot. Senior shortstop Valerie Frank and senior first baseman Crystal Owens are veteran, proven hitters as well.