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DeBates an All-American

WORTHINGTON -- Ashley DeBates may be quiet and reserved off the softball diamond, but there is nothing quiet about her game.

DeBates was recently named a first-team NJCAA Division III All-American. As a freshman, she led the Minnesota West Lady Jays in batting average, home runs and RBIs. She hit .500 on the season, which was ninth in the nation, while hitting four homers and driving in 46 runs, good enough for 14th in the nation.

"I didn't think that I had that big of a season, but I'm glad that it happened," DeBates said of the honor.

"When she got up (to the plate), it was like something's happening here," West head coach Rosalie Hayenga said. "She's going to get a hit. When you have someone like that in your lineup, it makes life very easy. You take it for granted sometimes."

DeBates, a left fielder, is the first All-American in softball for Minnesota West, and played on a team which shattered the school record for wins with 19.

Both DeBates and Hayenga agree the season ended prematurely as the Lady Jays were not able to advance to Regionals.

"At the beginning we kind of struggled but then at the end we were playing like we knew we could," DeBates said. "Too bad the season ended because we were playing our best at the end at state."

"We could play with any of the teams that were there," Hayenga said. "That was the frustrating part; we were playing so darn well at the end of the season and not to even get a chance."

Hayenga admitted that she felt lucky to get a player of DeBates' quality.

"You've got to get lucky to get a kid like that to come to a junior college and be that successful," Hayenga said. "So I feel incredibly fortunate in that area."

DeBates said that one of the major factors that led her to Minnesota West was Hayenga.

While some players would be content with becoming an All-American in their first collegiate season, DeBates is already working for next year.

"I'm going to work a lot over the summer and work out," she said. "Just work on my swing a little bit more because I had a lot of strikeouts, so I'm going to work on that."

NJCAA rules don't allow coaches and players to work together over the summer, but Hayenga is already excited for next year's season.

"By no means am I going to expect her to be a two-time All-American and be disappointed if she's not," Hayenga said. "You can't get caught up in the pressure situation. I'm not worried that Ashley will, she's going to be successful. I know that because she works so hard."

As a freshman, DeBates has one more year left at Minnesota West. After finishing her career as a Lady Jay, she is still undecided where she will take her softball skills next.

"I would like to go to a Division II or Division I school," DeBates said. "My dream has always been to go to Tennessee, but I don't think that's going to happen. I'd go anywhere. Wherever they would want me, I would go."

Hayenga said she has no doubt that DeBates can take her skill to the next level.

"She's got speed and power ... it's a matter of where she wants to go," Hayenga said. "She's definitely going to have options, and we're going to get her name out there."

DeBates was also named to the All-Southern Division first team, the All-State first team, and the All-Region XIII team.

But before DeBates leaves Worthington, she still has high goals for next year.

"I want to make it to regionals and then to nationals," she said.