West Shore pitcher California-bound in 2015

NCAA scholarship deal in store for Langford's Ashley Penney

Langford resident Ashley Penney

The first stage in a lifetime dream will be realized for Ashley Penney next year.

The Langford resident and student-athlete in the Diamond Excellence program at Lambrick Park secondary has always wanted to play fastpitch softball at a high level. Having kicked her game up a notch when she joined the White Rock Renegades 97s for the bantam national championships a few years back, and enjoyed great success in midget ball the past two seasons, she scored her latest coup earlier this month.

Penney, 17, a hard-throwing right-handed pitcher and power-hitting cleanup hitter for the Renegades, signed a letter of intent to attend San Jose State University in California. She’ll play ball starting next fall on a full-ride scholarship for the NCAA Div. 1 Spartans.

“I’m really excited. It’s been one of my dreams since I was little,” she said this week, after finishing up one of her three-times-a-week indoor pitching workouts.

Penney, who came up playing in the Victoria Devils organization, gave a verbal commitment to San Jose State in Grade 10. But NCAA rules stipulate schools can’t initiate contact until a prospect is in their senior year, a.k.a. Grade 12 for Canadians.

The path to collegiate ball has seen this confident young woman work hard to achieve both team and individual success, according to Renegades’ assistant coach Courtney Gill.

“She’s matured and grown into quite the athlete. Her work ethic is unparalleled,” Gill said. “It’s going to be exciting to see how she does in preparation for going away.”

The Renegades 97s, so named for the players’ birth years, as is the norm in girls fastball, are a perennial powerhouse in B.C. come playoff time. With Penney playing a central role, playing outfield when not pitching, the team captured the under-16 national crown in 2013. Their ace nursed a shoulder injury last season, but was full value in the post-season, helping her team win the U-18 provincials as a first-year midget team and earn the bronze medal at nationals.

Gill said Penney has been working on altering her pitching style slightly, with the help of hall of fame pitcher Rob Guenter and her dad, former Victoria Grizzlies GM Jackson Penney. The hope, Gill added, is the change will allow her to better manage the workload of the season and leave her in good shape as she heads south.

With the Spartans expected to field a number of seniors next season, it may be even tougher for the rookie pitcher to gain playing time. Penney isn’t worried, saying she plans to work hard and do her best to make an impression.

“Their pitchers are really good, but I’m going to try my best to keep up with them.”

She’s not anxious to give up her time at the plate, either. While some pitchers focus solely on their mound duties, Penney works hard on both sides of her game. That said, she knows she’ll have to convince her new coaches that she deserves a spot in the batting order.

If anyone can impress as a freshman, Gill said, it’s Penney.

“Her work ethic and her self-motivation is going to be a contributing factor to her making an impact right away, but her maturity level has been her trademark,” the coach said. “It’s going to be tough for her. I went and played in the States as well. I know what it’s like being a small fish in a big pond.”

Making the move a little easier will be the fact she’ll be rooming with Emma Entzminger of Saanich, a former Lambrick academy classmate who’s currently in her freshman year at San Jose State.

“I might be a little homesick at first, but I’ll get used to it,” Penney said.

First, however, she’s got her Grade 12 year to complete and a final season with the Renegades, one she hopes will result in another medal performance.

editor@goldstreamgazette.com

Just Posted

Skygazers spot mysterious flaming object during Sunday’s lunar eclipse

University of Victoria astronomer explains the “glowing object”

Evicted UVic student questions Saanich’s housing bylaw

Emma Edmonds had been living with six roommates, while the bylaw states you cannot exceed four

Sooke trade show targets local business

Sookrama planned for April

Plecas report: Thousands spent on trips, booze, magazines and a wood splitter

Two suspended B.C. legislature officers have been accused of ‘flagrant overspending’

Ousted legislature officials say report released to further blacken their reputations

James and Lenz say release was ‘Contrary to all principles of fairness and decent treatment’

New Canada Food Guide nixes portion sizes, promotes plant-based proteins

Guide no longer lists milk and dairy products as a distinct food group

Liberals look to make home-buying more affordable for millennials: Morneau

Housing is expected to be a prominent campaign issue ahead of October’s federal election

Canadian navy plans to extend life of submarines

The fleet has turned a corner after a troubled start

Cannabis-carrying border crossers could be hit with fines under coming system

Penalties are slated to be in place some time next year

Man accused of threatening to kill ‘as many girls as I see’

Christopher W. Cleary wrote he was angry because he’d never had a girlfriend and wanted to ‘make it right’ with a mass shooting

Canadian talent abound on newly revamped Vancouver Whitecaps squad

Lineup is full of new faces after the organization parted ways with 18 players over the off-season

B.C. Green leader calls for long-term legislature financial audit

Andrew Weaver says trust in clerk and sergeant at arms is gone

No charges in fatal police Taser incident in B.C.

RCMP watchdog concludes no evidence of excessive or disproportionate force was used by officers

Most Read