PREP SOFTBALL: Holly Pond’s Ashley Duke signs with Judson College

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Holly Pond’s Ashley Duke signs her national letter of intent to play at Judson College in the Holly Pond High School library Wednesday. Top row L-R: Judson Softball Coach Tom Hannah, Doug Duke, Holly Pond Softball Coach Destry Stone. Bottom: Ann Duke (left), Ashley Duke (right). (Nick Griffin for The Cullman Tribune.)

HOLLY POND, Ala. – The library at Holly Pond High School was packed with friends, family, teammates and coaches Wednesday morning to celebrate the next stage of one Bronco’s athletic and academic career. Senior infielder Ashley Duke signed a scholarship to play for Judson College in Marion and Eagles Head Coach Tom Hannah was in attendance for his newest player’s signing and is looking forward to working with her over the next few years. Ashley’s senior season will be her first on the field with Holly Pond, but Hannah has already seen her play up close and believes she will be a great addition to his roster.

“I saw her play travel ball, saw her at a couple of tournaments and really liked how she played. I really liked how she carried herself and the kind of person she seemed to be. We got her down to our school for a tryout and a preview day weekend and she just fit right in at our place. You can find good players everywhere but its harder to find good kids,” Hannah said. “It’s hard to find a player that is also a good young lady and that’s the kind of program we are so that’s what we try to find. I think we hit a homerun with Ashley because she’s all around a good student athlete and just a great girl to have on your team.”

Broncos Head Coach Destry Stone has seen Duke step into more of a leadership role as we near the start of the season and he’s excited to see her leading on the field as well.

“She’s taken the role as a senior and has been a great team leader for our seventh, eighth and ninth graders coming and in and she gives me a lot of options to choose from as far as where to play her,” Stone said. “She attacks the ball and gets it out quick, so I think she’s going to make a lot of outs for us.”

Stone is proud of Ashley for this accomplishment and believes it will not only benefit her and the Eagles but bring some exposure to the Holly Pond program as well.

“I think it’s a great thing for Judson, Ashley and our program all together because I think they’ll see that they came up here to get a player from Holly Pond that is a well-balanced player and has the right mindset to finish out her college and play well the whole time she’s there.”

Despite the recent rain fall causing some difficulties, Ashley and her team have been preparing for the start of the 2020 season and she’s looking forward to chasing wins in her senior season with the Broncos.  

“It’s been extremely fun, and we’ve been working hard trying to get ready for our first game even though the rain has made it hard,” Duke joked. “But we’ve worked hard on team chemistry and I think it’s going to be a really good year.”

Duke got a chance to visit Judson and knew almost immediately that she was a fit. Her faith played a big role in her decision and now, even though she has plans for the upcoming season with the Broncos, she is ready to get to Marion and contribute to the Eagles on the field.

“I really like the atmosphere of the college and I loved going down there and practicing on the field and everything. I just love the Lord and they’re all about the Lord down there, so I just really loved it. It clicked and I knew I loved this place and its where I wanted to go so, I’m really excited to get down there.”

Opening day for Holly Pond is scheduled for Tuesday, Feb. 18 at 4:30 p.m. at home against Cleveland.

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