West Stokes outfielder Ashley Philyaw was named Western Piedmont softball player of the year and helped stretch the Lady Wildcats season to the second round of the state playoffs.
“I was surprised because our conference has really good players. I’m thankful I have the high school coaches I do who are always willing to help me get better to have the opportunity to win an award like this,” she said.
Philyaw has been playing softball since she was 10-years-old.
“I started off playing in little league and then made the all-star team and we won district and made it to states.”
From there, she transitioned to the Chaos team for three years and now plays for Carolina Extreme.
“Both of those teams had really good coaches that taught me the fundamentals of softball and just how to play the game,” she said. “I enjoy the competitive nature of it and the bond you form with all your teammates.”
In high school Philyaw joined West Stokes program as a right handed hitter, but when coaches saw her speed during off-season they decided to utilize her as left handed.
As a slap batter she worked to move up on the ball when hitting by “slapping” it into a hole in the infield and then beat the throw to first base. For some, it’s tough to hit fast pitch standing still, but Philyaw began to make an immediate impact.
“Jordan (Stevens) has helped me a lot by making me a slapper my freshman year. He taught me all the little things about slapping and showed me how it needs to be done,” she said. “One thing about Jordan is that if you show interest in becoming a better player and are actually willing to work at it, he’ll invest his time and effort into making you better.”
As Wests’ head coach Stevens said he saw something unique in Philyaw early on.
“I knew she was going to be special when we were playing a game and were down by one and had runners on first and second and I needed a bunt. I called time and told her I needed a bunt to the third base side and I also needed her to get on base. Ashley looked at me and said ‘I can do it’, and then she executed. From that day forward she’s continued to work and get better in the off-season and has trained at Athletic Republic.”
Along with her ability to get on base, Stevens said she’s a very even keel player.
“She’s not one to get upset or overexcited. Ashley’s an athletic kid who has a lot of speed and uses her skills to her ability. She’s smart, understands the game very well and has bought into West Stokes program.”
While she brings an arsenal of skill to the field, Stevens said she’s more interested in contributing to the team than her own individual stats.
“I think she has a lot of respect from everyone in our conference and I’m hoping she’ll continue down the right road and have an even better year as a senior,” Steven said.
Amanda Dodson can be reached at 336-813-2426 or on Twitter at AmandaTDodson.