Chrz combines attitude and ability on softball field

Published 12:00 am Saturday, July 6, 2002

Ashley Chrz says she absolutely loves center field.

Of course, that’s speaking strictly defensively. She’s also quite comfortable in the batter’s box. She demonstrated both quite well for the 2002 Albert Lea High School softball team.

Chrz (pronounced &uot;Herz&uot;) made her junior season one to remember, batting a team-high .386 in her third year as a varsity starter. She was also a standout on defense &045; mainly in center field but at third base when needed &045; but her most impressive statistic was probably something she did not do very much of at the plate. She struck out only eight times in 70 at-bats.

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For her efforts, Chrz is the Tribune’s 2002 Softball Player of the Year. She’s the first Albert Lea player to receive the honor since the All-Area Softball Team was introduced in 1992.

&uot;She can do anything at the plate,&uot; said Rick Harves, who finished the 2002 season as the ALHS head coach. &uot;Her ability to drag bunt, slap, and hit away along with good speed add up to a player hard to get out. She kept other teams guessing.&uot;

Chrz never would have guessed she’d be Player of the Year.

&uot;It’s great,&uot; she said. &uot;It’s a great surprise. I just like playing softball. It’s a great team to play with and it’s a lot of fun.&uot;

According to Harves, Chrz is a fun player to coach.

&uot;The big thing is she works real hard and always has such a cheerful attitude,&uot; said Harves. &uot;And she really applies herself to whatever she tries to do.&uot;

The thing that stands out in Harves’ mind about Chrz is her all-out attitude.

&uot;She made some diving catches this year, but for her it’s always all out,&uot; said Harves. &uot;She always plays real hard. And she communicates real well with the other girls. She’s always in the game.&uot;

Emily Ulve, Chrz’s coach on the summer 18-and-under fast-pitch team, agreed.

&uot;She’s a great all-around athlete and has one of the best attitudes I know,&uot; said Ulve.

Chrz’s attitude toward hitting is fundamental: &uot;A lot of batting practice. And just mainly keeping your eye on the ball.&uot;

Opposing pitchers will no doubt have their eye on her next year.