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A chance to shine

Golden Valley High graduate Ashley Jaramillo is now in the softball limelight

Posted: March 3, 2009 1:43 a.m.
Updated: March 3, 2009 4:55 a.m.

Ashley Jaramillo, a Golden Valley High graduate catches a softball for Francis Marion University this season.

 
Ashley Jaramillo is unique.

She didn't come from one of the college softball factories of the Santa Clarita Valley.

She was overshadowed by many superstars in this valley over the past couple of years, as was her team by the supersquad on the other side of town.

But Golden Valley High graduate Ashley Jaramillo is playing college softball and thriving.

In November 2007, the then-Grizzlies senior was offered and accepted a scholarship to play softball at Francis Marion University, an NCAA Division II Peach Belt Conference affiliate in Florence, S.C.

"It is great to have a role model that the girls in our program can have to look up to," says Golden Valley softball coach Courtney Carr. "We are starting to see the trend of girls that are going on to the next level."

Jaramillo recently received Peach Belt Conference Freshman of the Week honors for her play from Feb. 16-22.

During that time, she was 6-for-11 with three runs scored, a double, a home run and five RBIs.

On the season, the Patriots freshman is hitting 17-for-37, including four home runs, 18 RBIs, 11 runs, six doubles and she has started all 15 games.

After moving across the country, Jaramillo was asked to move from her usual spots at third base and catcher to second base.

Combine the challenges of taking on the new position to those of newly found independence and suddenly Jaramillo finds herself forced to mature quickly.

"This year has been very interesting and eye-opening," Jaramillo says. "It has made me realize a lot of things about life and helped me grow up and become my own person."

With plenty to be anxious about, Francis Marion head coach Stacey Vallee says her young player has adjusted to the pressure.

"She doesn't look intimidated or scared like other freshman would," Vallee says.

In fact, her humor is starting to show as she becomes comfortable with her surroundings, making light of her early accomplishments.

"When she was named freshman of the week, she asked if she could have a Snickers," Vallee recalls with a laugh. "I told her only if you hit really well the next day, and I said the whole day. She hit a home run. Line drive. Very first at bat. The next however-many at-bats, they pitched around her."

The two then joked that only one at bat did not constitute "all day."

"She comes in and gets the job done," Vallee says. "She doesn't need the praise."

Taking everything in stride, Jaramillo will eventually get the opportunity to impart her knowledge about the game and adjusting to the next level.

Carr says the Golden Valley alum has a standing invitation to come back to the program and coach once she has graduated.

"I would love to have her as a coach," Carr says.

Jaramillo recently helped out during the offseason.

"She did a very good job," Carr recalls. "She was so eloquent in how she coached them. I was a little surprised. I would have thought she would want to relax."

Vallee also acknowledges Jaramillo's potential for coaching.

She has become more vocal and assertive, however it is her teachability that stands out most, says the Patriots head coach.

As she continues to learn and improve, so will her skills as a leader.

Citing her love of the sport, Jaramillo looks forward to the opportunity to return to Golden Valley.

Perhaps by then, Vallee will have bought her that Snickers.


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