When Lady Redskin pitcher Ashley Barfield tossed a no-hitter and near-perfect game against Savannah Country Day, Barfield was catapulted to the top of the list of those considered for August’s Bryan County Athlete of the Month award. When she came back one week later and did almost the exact same thing against ECI, Barfield sealed the deal.
Barfield received the award last Wednesday in an awards banquet at the family sports pub Beef ‘O’ Brady’s which was also attended by her family, the BCHS softball coaching staff and restaurant owner Doug Goolsby who presented Barfield with an additional certificate and an "Athlete of the Month" T-shirt.
"She’s a natural pitcher," head coach Kim Covington said. "She pitches hard, pitches fast and has really good control. She’s also one of our offensive weapons as she’s a great hitter. She’s probably one of the best athletes ever to come through our school system."
This year, the Skins have a relief pitcher in Samantha Howard, allowing Barfield to try out the shortstop position. To the surprise of no one, she has excelled at this new position as well.
"She’s an awesome pitcher, awesome shortstop – she’s good everywhere we put her," assistant coach Robin Butler said. "Ashley is the backbone of the Lady Redskins."
"She is the team leader, but not in a loud way – she works hard and leads by example," assistant coach Karen Lynn said.
Barfield is no stranger to receiving athletic achievement awards. She has been the recipient of Bryan County High School’s Female Athlete of the Year award for each of the three years she has attended the school – this was in recognition of not only her softball achievements, but also tennis, cheerleading, cross country and track. She also has made first team all-region the past three years for softball. Her freshman year, she was deemed Rookie of the Year by BCHS.
"She does great in every sport she plays in and she’s above-average academically," her mother Robin Barfield said. "We’re extremely proud of her."
Of all her endeavors, Barfield is quick to point out softball as the most important and most enjoyable to her. "It’s my life," she said.
Her coach said this fact is all too apparent. "You can tell by the way she carries herself how much she loves this sport, and I do believe that makes a difference in her performance," said Covington.
"It started early with her – Ashley has always loved softball," her father Jack Barfield said. "When she was very young, she would amaze some of her coaches with her natural throwing abilities, her instinct in releasing the ball, and the fact that she wouldn’t get rattled – she sustains her concentration on the mound despite possible distractions or pressure."
The younger Barfield confirmed her fascination with softball "began with T-ball". She said it was elementary for her to end up on the field at such a young age because "I was out at the ball park every weeknight anyway watching my two older brothers play, and all my friends were doing it."
She spoke of how, during this time, an older friend introduced her to slow pitching – all the while commenting how she would be great at fast pitch. The very next year, Hendrix Park introduced its first season of fast pitch softball which Barfield signed up for. She took the mound, and the rest is history.
From all accounts, Barfield encompasses not only the athletic requirements this monthly award suggests, but also the desired characteristics and maturity.
"I’ve seen Ashley gain a great deal of maturity over the years," Covington said. "As she has grown older and played more, she has matured into the fantastic athlete she is today."
"She cares about other people and will go out of her way to help somebody," said her father. "She’s such a sweet person all together. She’s worked so hard for so long, so I hope it helps her to further her education."
Barfield said she hopes to go to Georgia Southern to major in business and play college ball. "I want to continue to play softball for at least four more years. I’m not ready to give it up because I can’t imagine my life without it right now."
Honorable mentions for August Bryan County Athlete of the Month: BCHS softball’s Samantha Howard and RHHS softball’s Stefanie Ortiz and Caitlyn Casey.