Softball runs in Ashley Wright’s blood, dating back to when her mother, Ruth Wright, was pitching and playing third base at Stephen F. Austin.
“Softball has just always been in our family,” Ashley said. “My mom was always out throwing with me and my sister. We would go to the SFA games and watch her coach.”
Ashley was surrounded by softball minds growing up. Her mother and aunt played collegiate softball.
“Both my mom and my aunt played at Stephen F. Austin” said Ashley. “Then my mom ended up coaching at SFA, and my dad would take us to the games to watch her coach.”
Ruth never forced Ashley to play softball. She let her make the decision, unless she was coaching.
“This sounds bad, but when I was coaching, my husband would lock them in the batting cages,” Ruth said. “When they were kids, I didn’t want them running around all over the stadium, so we kept them in the cages. They would throw and hit during the games.”
Ashley grew up in Huntington, Texas, just 100 miles from the Louisiana border. Her mother coached the Huntington Heartbreakers, a softball select team.
The team traveled to Houston every weekend and occasionally to Louisiana and California to compete in national softball tournaments.
“We definitely traveled a lot during those times, but you have to in order to compete at a high level,” Ruth said. “You have to play tough teams, and it has to be a year round sport. I would tell Ashley and even my players that you might miss out on activities like going out on the lake, but if you’re committed you will have great success.”
Ruth coached her daughter’s high school and select softball teams. The former softball player in her wanted Ashley to elevate her game to the next level.
“I was pretty hard on her as a player,” Ruth said. “I would push her the most because I knew she had it in her to be a great player. She took it well and had great work ethic to become better and better.”
Ashley and her sister, Erica, pushed each other to the brink on the softball field. Erica will play softball at the University of Texas this fall.
“My sister and I would always do something and see who could do it better,” Ashley said. “She is one of my biggest role models because she has such a positive influence on my life. Even I’m not playing my best, she’s there for me.”
Ashley appeared in 21 games last season, starting in 11. She allowed 60 earned runs and 51 walks in 68.2 innings pitched.
“I definitely think this season I faced some adversity,” Ashley said. “I didn’t get the pitching time I wanted, and just pushing myself through those situations and going over those situations helps get through the struggles.”
Ruth still calls her daughter to give her advice and help improve her game.
“I do it so much sometimes that she tells me, ‘I know I know,’” Ruth said. “But she knows I’m there when she needs me and I can help her whenever she needs me.”
Follow Kirk Jones on Twitter: @kirk_jones11