Ashlee Swindle (above) is shown in action at Lagoon Park in Montgomery, the site of the state softball tournament.
Jasper, Ala.--Finishing the season 47-2 on the way to winning a second consecutive Class 4A state softball championship, the Curry Yellow Jackets were led by a pair of Auburn signees who say they are excited about continuing their playing days and winning ways on the Plains.
One of the top high school players in the country and a dominating performer both on the mound and at the plate, Ashlee Swindle finished her career at Curry in style last week at the state tournament in Montgomery. Pitching all four games for Curry, Swindle allowed just two runs in 26 innings and struck out 29 while walking only two batters. For good measure she added seven hits in 11 at-bats and drove in eight runs to earn MVP honors.
Perry did her share of damage at the plate as well. In four games the first baseman had seven hits in 13 at-bats with a home run and three runs batted in. The two were part of a team that outscored the opposition 26-2 on the way to the title, something they hope to continue on the next level at Auburn.
“They inspire us,” Perry said of watching Auburn play this season. “It’s something for us to work for and towards knowing we’re going from greatness to greatness.”
Greatness is what Swindle showed on the field this season for the Yellow Jackets. Compiling an amazing record of 45-2 in the circle this season, Swindle allowed just 22 earned runs in 262 2/3 innings for an ERA of just 0.59. She struck out 385 on the season and walked just 34 this year, with many of those strikeouts coming because of a devastating change-up.
With the ability to throw the pitch in any situation and often throwing it two or three pitches consecutively, Swindle said it’s something she’s been working to perfect for several years. Having the ability to throw a pitch like she can with the change-up is something Swindle plans to to use to allow her to make a smooth transition as a freshman with the Tigers.
“I feel like it’s going to help me a lot,” she said. “I know locating your pitches and changing speeds is a big deal in college. I can’t wait for Corey Myers to help me with my pitching because I’ve had some pitching coaches, but lately I haven’t gotten to use them. When I get to Corey I know I’ll be a lot better.”
Joining a pitching staff that should be a strength next year with Kaylee Carlson and Makayla Martin both back for the Tigers, Swindle said she is looking to make an impact on the team in her first year on the Plains. The biggest thing she said she’s looking forward to is being part of the atmosphere surrounding Coach Clint Myers and the program at the moment.
“I walked on campus and everybody just greeted me," she pointed out. "I know I’m going to be away from my family, even though it’s only three hours away I’m the only child so I’m going to miss my family. When I got there I just felt like I had a big family. That was a big thing for me.”
In addition to her pitching abilities Swindle also showed her skills at the plate, batting .557 for the year with 13 home runs and a team-high 86 runs batted in. She was part of an impressive starting lineup for Curry that featured an Ole Miss signee, a University of North Alabama signee and her fellow Auburn signee in Perry.
Justus Perry is a talented first baseman with power
Anchoring the right side of the infield at first base, Perry also put up some huge numbers with a .560 average, 14 home runs, 22 doubles and 59 runs batted in. That is the type of production she was looking for when making the move from her home state of Minnesota to Curry for her senior season.
“I wanted to raise my competition level,” Perry said of making the move. “I wanted to become a better player. I wanted to learn more from the game and I thought the way to do that was to play more, to be around girls I had a good connection with. It was also about working hard. I have worked harder here than I did in my 17 years in Minnesota. I think it’s making me and my teammates better every day.”
Playing the game more than ever in her life because of the warmer weather, Perry said her playing experience went from 20 games in Minnesota to more than 50 this season at Curry.
That lack of game time didn’t hurt her recruiting, howeve,r as Perry made a commitment way back as an eighth-grader and has stuck with those coaches ever since. Choosing Arizona State when Myers was still a Sun Devil, she said the decision to switch her commitment to Auburn was a no-brainer.
“It was the coaching staff,” Perry said. “I was originally committed to Arizona State and when they left and went to Auburn I knew that was the only decision for me. The coaches are the main part of who I am today and why I want to be a great ball player. I want to be great and I think with them helping me I will be great.”