Prep softball: Ashton's bat crucial to West Jordan's success
Markii Ashton has a terrible poker face. She wears her emotions for the world to see.
Frustration, elation, determination each easily distinguishable by the look on her face, the fire in her eyes.
That fire and passion are manifested in blasts off her bat and has ignited the middle of the Jaguars' lineup for the past four years.
The center fielder leads West Jordan with three home runs and eight extra-base hits entering the week, just as she has done in each of the past two seasons.
She is as selective as they come when choosing the pitch she looks to crush, but she isn't afraid to expand her strike zone when it's clear opposing pitchers are trying not to serve up her next home run.
"When I get up to hit, it's just fun for me," said Ashton, a center fielder who had 12 career home runs entering the season. "They try to pitch around me sometimes, but I end up hitting still."
West Jordan coach Kody Byrd knows the offense is best suited when Ashton is swinging the bat. The Jaguars averaged nine runs during a four-game stretch last month in which Ashton had at least one extra-base hit in every game.
"She's always taking extra batting practice, always takes it very seriously," Byrd said. "She's very selective in the picking the pitches she'll swing at and works really hard at it.
"We give her the green light if she thinks she can get to a pitch. Every time she swings, there's a chance she's going to get a hold of it, and we'll definitely take that chance with her."
The Jaguars will need Ashton's bat to stay hot throughout Region 3 play if a third consecutive state playoff appearance is to happen. West Jordan entered the week 0-2 in region play, with losses to Brighton and Copper Hills, two favorites to claim the region title.
Ashton said she believes the offense holds the key to success the rest of the season.
"When we're hitting, we're good," Ashton said. "When we're on with hitting, it seems like we play better defense. Everything really works better for us."
The Jaguars will participate in the 24-team Swing for Life tournament next week at the Valley Regional Softball Complex. It's a charity event that raises funds that go to breast cancer research.
It's the fourth consecutive season in which West Jordan will participate, and the event is a special one for Ashton, whose father and grandfather were stricken with cancer.
"It's just a great event," Ashton said. "And it's for a really good cause raising lots of awareness. It's just a fun tournament."
Ashton, who also was a starting guard on the basketball team, will continue playing softball after graduation. In January, she accepted a scholarship to play at the College of Southern Idaho, the same school where her brother Andre played baseball.
Ashton, who is dyslexic, said the biggest reason she chose CSI is the school's resources in helping students with the learning disability. The school offers textbooks in alternative formats as well as a tutoring network.
West Jordan senior Markii Ashton has three of her team's four home runs this season entering the week.
Ashton, who also was a starter on the basketball team, has led the team in homers each of the past two seasons.
The center fielder has accepted a scholarship to play at the College of Southern Idaho, where her brother Andre played baseball in 2011.