AOYA video of the award presentation.
For leading her team to the most successful season in BCHS softball history and more, Bryan County High School senior Ashley Barfield has been named the Bryan County News Athlete of the Year.
She is the first recipient of this honor and was in the running with all the other athletes who received the Bryan County News’ Athlete of the Month award.
Barfield received her Athlete of the Year plaque Jan. 31 at an award banquet at Beef ‘O’ Brady’s in Richmond Hill which was attended by her family as well as BCHS Vice Principal Rod Backman, tennis coach Tommy Gibbs and BCHS Athletic Director Ron Lewis.
Backman said he has watched her mature into a seasoned athlete and "by the time she was a senior, she was a mature, dogged, hard-playing athlete. It did not matter what was in her way, whether it be injuries or hard competition, we could always count on Ashley to do her best and perform well…and I’m sure that all of those things she demonstrated on the athletic field, she will perform in life."
Barfield pitched a no-hitter against Claxton – and came close to it in other games
"Ashley is a fantastic team leader," said softball coach Kim Covington. "She pulled our team together and got us where we were. She’s not only a great athlete, but she’s a terrific person. She is going to go far in whatever she does in life."
When Barfield injured her arm just before sectionals in Dublin, she still participated. In doing so, she excelled at short stop, making no errors, and hit a homerun. While relief pitcher Samantha Howard took the pitching spotlight, Barfield contributed just as much to get her team to the state playoffs.
"She’s a person who puts her team before herself," Lewis said. "She went through a lot of pain and risked long term injury just so the softball team could succeed in the playoffs … She cares about others."
This award is one of many Barfield has received recently. Among her other 2007 honors include: MVP for tennis, all-region for softball, Albert Lodge Award and Female Athlete of the Year from BCHS and Athlete of the Year from the Hinesville Umpires Association – all this while maintaining a high academic grade point average.
In addition to her softball achievement this past year, she also was a key member of the the BCHS cheerleading squad, which also made it to state.
Tennis coach Tommy Gibbs said when he took the reins as tennis coach a couple years ago, BCHS was sparse on tennis players which caused him to recruit athletes from other sports.
He said Barfield hadn’t initially planned on playing but she turned out to be one of the top players who carried the team into the state playoffs.
Barfield said she is honored by the accolades that have been bestowed upon her recently.
"I’m just so humbled by all of it," she said. "It’s such a big shock to me. It really hit me when I received the award from Hinesville. I had to stop and say ‘hold on a second – what’s happening here’. And now this one – I’m just so honored by it all."
Her parents, Jack and Robin Barfield, share her excitement.
"She has had four great years and it’s just so wonderful to end it on a note like this," Mrs. Barfield said. "We’ve been supportive of all her efforts, but to have folks from outside come in and reward her for it means a lot to all of us."
"I’m so proud of her," Mr. Barfield said. "She’s worked hard ever since she first started playing ball in Hendrix Park and it’s a great lesson for her to be rewarded like this. And it’s good to see kids in our county finally get recognized through this program. I couldn’t be prouder to see Ashley become the first Bryan County Athlete of the Year."
Barfield said she is interested in pursuing softball on the collegiate level and is thinking about AASU or Brewton Parker. In the meantime, she still has one more run at BCHS athletics as Barfield, the returning 2007 MVP tennis player, returns to the court this spring.
Honorable mentions: fellow 2007 AOM honorees Liz Cross, Willie Deloach, Nathan Kilburn, Wesley Wilkes, Laura Nunnery, Brian Wood, Matt Schlag, DJ McElroy, Jeremey Goolsby, Tara Miles, Raul Rodriguez, Melanie Goolsby, Ivey Mutcherson, Samantha Howard, Jena Reddick, Justin Bostick and CJ Bynum.
See video at www.bryancountynews.net.
Coming Wednesday: A look back at the top ten local sports stories of 2007.