PARKERSBURG - Ritchie County High School graduate Ashley Knight, the 2011 West Virginia Gatorade Softball Player of the Year, has opted to leave Slippery Rock University and transfer to Fairmont State University to play her final two years for the Fighting Falcons of head coach Rick Wade.
Knight, who helped the Rebels to the Class AA state championship during her senior campaign, officially became a member of the FSU softball team at the end of June.
"I prayed a lot about this and it was a really hard decision to transfer," said Knight, who went 15-21 in her two seasons at SRU and set the single-season school strikeout record last year after fanning 103 batters. "I had been debating it, probably I guess, before the season and I just decided to stick it out at Slippery Rock.
Former Ritchie County all-stater Ashley Knight, pictured here throwing for Slippery Rock University, has transferred to Fairmont State University for her final two seasons.
"I decided it was my best choice after the season and I asked to be released and I started to talk to Fairmont and that was pretty much the only place I wanted to go. It took a while to get all the paper work and stuff."
Knight, a dominate left-hander for Ritchie County head coach Dave Mossor, had a 3.00 ERA as a freshman and logged 130 innings last year, finishing with a 4.15 ERA to go along with 10 wins and 11 complete-games.
A screwball pitcher, who also features a newly-learned drop curve that Knight says is "nasty", also uses her regular curve, a drop ball, a rise ball and a knuckler as part of her repertoire.
"I rarely throw a fastball," said Knight, who admitted it was tough going from a winning program at Ritchie County to a much different situation in college as a freshman and sophomore.
"I feel like most people transfer because they are not getting playing time. That wasn't the case at all. We really did have a good team. We just didn't play to our potential and that was the hardest thing."
Coach Wade told Knight the Falcons didn't have any left-handed hurlers, but that playing time had to be earned.
"No spots are given and you need to work hard," Knight said of what Wade related to her. "I'm excited to work hard and I think I can help their team. I'm excited because they have a great defense and it makes me feel a lot better to know they are going to have my back when I do get in there to pitch.
"It kind of takes the pressure off a little bit more I suppose. I always want to get better. I'm not content being complacent (and that's) another reason I made the change."
For Knight, who is changing her major to sports management focused in marketing and promotions along with seeking a minor in nutrition, being closer to home also was a factor in coming back to West Virginia from the Keystone State.
"Working this summer at a restaurant all the old men who would come to our (high school) games told me they were really excited to come to see some of my games," Knight added. "That's nice. I didn't know anybody in Pennsylvania.
"It will be really nice to have people who have watched me for years when I was growing up and playing come to see me play. My family is more excited to watch me more often. It's going to be like it used to be a little more. That's why I played softball because the atmosphere was so fun and I'm excited to get going."