When the Harlem High School girls softball team held tryouts before the season, you had to look quick to see junior outfielder Ashley Lunz.
Not because of her stature – she stands at just 5-feet-3 inches – but rather because she was a blur during baserunning drills, quickly establishing herself as the fastest player out there.
That did not diminish during the year. She is among the team leaders in on-base percentage (.464) and is second on the team in stolen bases – 11 in 12 attempts.
“She’s so fast when she puts the ball in play,” said coach Mike Leverett. “She could bunt every time, and I could promise you four out of the five times they’re going to make a mistake. Her on-base percentage is higher because of that.”
Calling the bunt one of her main weapons, she put that on display against Thomasville in the first round of the Georgia High School Association Class AA State Softball playoffs. She laid the ball down about three feet in front of the plate, and while the catcher got to it fast, she still had no shot at throwing Lunz out.
“I just try to get on and help the team out as much as I can,” said Lunz, who was third on the team in walks with 16.
The 2012 Lady Bulldogs were able to get past the second round of the state playoffs, advancing to the round of eight in Columbus, Ga. Though the current squad is two wins away from duplicating that, Lunz thinks Leverett might have more talent to work with this year.
“We had a lot of seniors last year and the team was really good, but I think we have a better team this year,” Lunz said. “I think we became closer as a team and we try to work really hard ... I hope we make it to Columbus.”
Lunz started playing softball about eight years ago, influenced by her brothers playing in a slow-pitch league, and no other sport has drawn her attention since then.
“Softball was the only one I wanted to concentrate the most on,” Lunz said.
But she almost didn’t become a Lady Bulldog.
“When she was an eighth-grader she decided she didn’t want to play softball at all,” Leverett said. “I had to go to the middle school and tell her, ‘Look, we need you.’”
Whenever the offseason comes around, she’ll start getting ready for the next year, but not taking the route that a lot of players take these days.
“My parents work a lot and stuff and we really don’t have time to do travel ball,” she said.
She is quiet on the diamond, but Leverett likes her demeanor.
“She can go 4-4 and she’ll keep the same expression,” Leverett said. “She goes 0-4, she keeps the same expression. There’s no big head at all. She’s just all focus which is a good thng for us.”
She also got high praise from outside the athletic arena.
“She’s just an outstanding, wonderful young lady,” said Harlem principal Dietmar Perez.