Quiet, unassuming, direct, shy, solid, dependable; these are all terms that apply to Ashley Kearns of the Brookfield Lady Dogs Softball Team. Some words that also apply are: only four-time District Champion in Brookfield High School history.
“That sentence makes me feel fantastic,” said Kearns of her historic effort. “The year-round hard work and dedication to softball since I was five years old has finally paid off.”
“Ashley doesn’t say much and isn’t a loud person, but her softball play speaks loudly,” said Head Coach Julee Reese. “She is very passionate about the sport and has a burning desire to win. She will do whatever it takes to get her team the win.”
Coach Reese continued: “I have seen her make phenomenal plays no one else could have made at second, and hit the ball when others of her team are in a slump. She is a great talent and a great player, and she will be very difficult to replace.”
Ashley Kearns came into the starting lineup for the Lady Dogs in the post-season of her freshman year when an errant ground ball struck senior Vanessa Shaw in the eyebrow at Central Methodist University. An unassuming young lady (i.e., Ashley) took the field, finished the game, and rarely ceded second base for the rest of her career.
Often, Kearns (or AK as her teammates call her) is the last to speak. Instead, she has let the stellar defensive play at second base shout where her quiet voice could be. “I lead by example,” said AK. “As they say, ‘actions speak louder than words.’ If my teammates see me giving 100 percent effort every day, then we all motivate off of one another to become a very successful team.”
So what is this example? Kearns explained her softball philosophy: “When I get on that field, I close everything off and zone in on what I have to do to help prepare us to win games. I feel that to be successful, you have to put in long hours beyond the scope of the actual season.”
Kearns knew coming into this history-making season for her team that she had a chance at individual glory as well. While her team’s success was paramount, the feat she could accomplish was not lost on the senior.
“It was a feeling beyond any feeling I’ve ever felt before,” said Kearns of her goal. “I felt it was more a team accomplishment because softball is a team sport. It takes every single player to do their part to have a successful season.”
Page 2 of 2 - This commitment to winning on the part of the often described “backbone of the Lady Dogs defense” was on display in a big way at the Missouri State High School Activities Association’s (MSHSAA) State Softball Championships.
It was in her second trip to Springfield that Ashley played arguably the two most complete (offensive and defensive) games of her already stellar career. Kearns, positioned late in the Lady Dogs’ lineup, seemed to find big hits against both Kelly and Pleasant Hope.
“It was a goal of mine to leave as a champion,” admitted Kearns. “I knew in the playoffs each and every game could be my last at BHS. It would take everyone’s best effort to do so, and being a senior on the team—as well as having a younger sister playing with me—I knew my teammates would rally behind me and I didn’t want to disappoint them.”