Bell closes high school career, looks ahead to college

Graduating Frenship softball player Ashton Bell familiarized herself with LCU Plains Capital Park field Saturday at the Greater West Texas Softball Coaches Association All-Star Game in anticipation of her college career.

Specifically, she got to know the grass just beyond the power alley of left-center field with a two-run home run in the bottom of the third inning.

“That’s exciting for me to see because the wind wasn’t blowing out at all then,” LCU coach Daren Hays said. “So that shows true power to be able to hit the ball out of the ballpark the other way and not have to try to do it, not have to gear up to hit it. Just take a smooth stroke and let your hand speed and strength take over. That’s the way the wind blows in the springtime, so a lefthander that can hit it that way is worth a lot.”

Bell ultimately went 3 for 4 with a pair of singles in a 9-9 tie in the 4A-5A all-star game. Frenship battery mate Jori McClellan added a single and an RBI for the team, and Tiger outfielder Ally Pouria also singled for the North team.

Bell said she enjoyed getting to play one last time with her teammates, as well as a few of the “enemies,” but she is looking forward to playing for LCU.

She started going to hitting camps during her sophomore season, which Hays said put the player on his radar.

Bell said she committed to LCU largely because of Hays’ philosophy and laid-back approach.

The Lady Chaps are going to retool their outfield next year, which is where Bell can contribute immediately.

Hays said Bell’s hitting is what makes her stand out from many in the area. Bell hit .534, with eight homers and 49 RBI her senior campaign. She was also one of two recipients of a $500 scholarship from the GWTSCA along with Cooper senior Lauren Heinrich.

The senior showed her fielding range in right field when she laid out for a hit near centerfield — outpacing the centerfielder — and nearly came up with an improbable grab that drew admiring glances from the coaches in the press box, perhaps glad they wouldn’t have to face her anymore.

Frenship coach Robby Dickenson said Bell’s defense also made her stand out in her career, and he played her in right field many times when she wasn’t pitching.

“It wasn’t just to stick her out here. That’s where I needed her,” Dickenson said. “She won a lot of games for us in the outfield.”

One aspect of Bell’s game she needs to improve for the next level is where she shined most Saturday.

Originally, the North team was alternating pitchers each inning before a nine-spot was given up in the third. Bell, who struck out the side in the second inning, went on to pitch the final two innings of the game to keep the south team scoreless.

It wasn’t without a little bit of drama, though, as she worked around a bases-loaded jam in the seventh.

“I definitely need to work on some pitches for sure,” said Bell, who throws a fastball and curveball. “I need to work on not loading the bases like I always do. I just need to work on control a little more, but I’m getting there.”


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