Many factors make Blaine senior Ashley Bolick an ace on the mound. She locates well, she has an arsenal of pitches to choose from and she is a lefty. However, when asked what makes Bolick a standout softball player, Blaine softball coach Alisa Burk summed it up in one word:
“She has a passion for the game, and for everything she puts her mind to that makes her a born leader,” Burk explained. “She loves every part of the game, and works hard day in and day out to be the best she can be.”
A passion for softball runs in Bolick’s family. Growing up, she played with her younger brothers and her dad, who was her
softball coach from fourth grade to eighth. She admits that she learned to lead early on by showing her two little brothers the ropes.
Bolick said the high school team she has played on for four years feels like an extended family to her now, and that’s what she loves most about the game.
“Everyone’s there for each other, supporting each other,” Bolick said. “I love the way being on a team makes you feel like you’re part of another family.”
Bolick’s passion for the game isn’t confined to the regular season since she plays year round on a select team based out of Arlington, nor is it confined to the basic routine of after school practice. She works out in the gym “most mornings,” she says, to build up her power. She shows up early and leaves late from games and practices, according to Burk. Her dedication to the sport she loves has translated into eye-catching numbers this season, both on the mound and at bat.
After pitching in 14 games, Bolick owned a 2.91 ERA. She had delivered 67 third strikes with only 28 walks, three batters hit by a pitch and two errors. Her at-bat numbers were equally impressive: a .561 batting average in 66 at bats, with 25 runs, 18 RBI, 12 doubles, three triples and an out-of-the-park home run at a recent game against Squalicum.
As Burk said, “She’s having a wicked good season.”
“It’s been good,” Bolick agreed. “It feels good to be back.”
Bolick missed most of last year’s high school softball season due to injury. She was playing twice a week with her travel team in fall 2011 when she noticed a bump on her foot.
“I didn’t know what it was, and I didn’t want to tell anyone so I just ignored it until around February,” she said. “I showed it to my coach, then went to the doctor. It was a cyst that had grown and tore through my tibialis anterior tendon.”
Bolick had surgery on her foot March 15, 2012.
“It was painful. They had to cut other tendons to repair the damaged one,” she said.
Doctors told her it would take up to two years to recover from the surgery, but that wasn’t going to fly for Bolick, who channeled her passion for softball into the recovery process.
“I had physical therapy twice a week, but I did a lot of stuff on my own because I wanted to get better faster,” she said.
By the end of June, Bolick was back on the field playing her favorite sport but with a newfound perspective on her other favorite pursuit: physical therapy.
“Outside of softball, I’m most passionate about athletic training,” she said. “I want to be a physical therapist. All of the stuff that’s happened with my injury really influenced that decision.”
Burk also is the athletic trainer for Blaine. She got Bolick involved as an assistant trainer for the girls basketball team in her junior year.
Bolick then assisted the football and boys basketball teams as a senior, and now has her heart set on a career path that will continue at Lewis and Clark College in Portland, Oregon next year.
“I’m going to get all my preliminaries in athletic training and physical therapy figured out, and then do their work-study program as an athletic trainer,” she said. “And I’ll be playing softball as well.”
Bolick has met the coach and the team, and said she is excited to join a team on the rise. “Last year they had a bunch of freshman that will be juniors when I’m a freshman,” she said. The Pioneers compete in the NCAA Division III Northwest Conference.
Bolick’s goals for the rest of this season are to take each game one at a time and to go to state finals. The Borderites are 7–4 in Northwest Conference games, and will play in the first round of the 1A District Softball Tournament Friday, May 10 in Sedro Woolley.
Bolick will play a major role in getting the Borderites through districts, but she will have lots of help along the way. Catcher Lexi Greguski helps Bolick outsmart batters, and Burk lets the pair call their pitches through the whole game.
“Lexi and I know I’m not super overpowering, so when we’re warming up we see what’s working best, because I have a lot of different pitches,” Bolick said. “Lexi will generally analyze the batter and figure out where she thinks we should pitch. I just throw where she tells me to.”
Bolick has had two shutouts this year owing to a strong supporting defense as well as her stellar pitching. At the most recent Mount Baker game, a fly ball caught in right field followed by two throws and a tag at home plate saved a run from scoring in the 5–0 shutout.
“We’ve had a lot of great plays this season but that one stands out,” Bolick said.
Although she is looking forward to college, Bolick said she would miss playing at Blaine.
“We all get along really well,” she said. “We’re all friends, so that really helps with our team chemistry.”