Note: The photo for this story has been corrected.
L.D. Bell softball pitcher Ashley Robinson had a solid freshman season.
But she wanted more. She said her team needed more.
And she’s provided more.
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“It’s a tough district compared to last year,” Robinson said of District 7-6A. “We all had to get better.”
Robinson had impressive numbers as a freshman. She was 6-4 with two saves and a 3.16 earned average, earning honorable mention All-District 6-5A honors as the Lady Raiders reached the playoffs for a fourth straight season. The Lady Raiders lost in the one-game bi-district round to Mansfield.
But Robinson felt to get to a fifth consecutive postseason, she and her teammates had to acknowledge the challenge before them and do whatever was necessary.
This year, during the regular season she was 8-8 with a 3.13 ERA and one save in her only opportunity. And yes, she led the Lady Raiders to the playoffs again – coming out of the aforementioned tougher district.
“It’s never a guarantee you make the playoffs,” Robinson said. “You have to keep playing hard, and you can’t take anything for granted.
When it mattered most, Robinson was 5-4 with a save in district, along with a 3.52 ERA.
“If we hadn’t made it this year, it would have been devastating. If your team ends the streak, you’ve got to live with it.”
It should come as no surprise, Robinson doing whatever it takes to compete. As a freshman she had to overcome a foot injury just to play – which she did, making varsity.
“We had no idea she was a full-time pitcher,” said L.D. Bell coach Thomas Shives. “She got healed and we said, ‘Let’s see you throw some.’
“We were a little surprised. Pleasantly surprised.”
Robinson admitted being nervous last season as a freshman on a team expected to be in the playoffs.
“As a freshman, it was a little scary coming onto a team that makes the playoffs consistently. I did not want to let them down,” she said.
Shives said one of Robinson’s assets is her ability to adapt to pitching from 43 feet instead of the old 40 feet distance. While the change was made by the University Interscholastic League in 2011, some pitchers are still adjusting, but Robinson seems to have it figured out, Shives said.
“I think Ashley throws harder than anyone in the district, but she can’t just throw it past people, and she knows that,” he said.
That’s not to say Robinson doesn’t get strikeouts. She had 51, but she’s just as happy getting a ground out or a fly out.
“I’ve become more accurate, putting the ball in play more,” she said.
Robinson, like many girls, plays select softball during the offseason. She’s done so since she was seven years old. In fact, her father coaches her on the Thunder Fast-Pitch 16U and 18U teams.
“She’s learned a lot over the last year,” Shives said. “She’s calmer, more experienced, used to the different level of talent.
“Pitcher is the most important position in softball,” he added. “They dictate what’s going on.”