photo by: Kim North
GLEN DALE – John Marshall softball standout Ava Blake made it official on Monday that she will attend Marshall University on a softball scholarship. The Monarchs’ senior signed her NCAA Division I National Letter of Intent in front of family and friends.
“It feels like I finally have a home. It feels like all the hard work I’ve put in has finally paid off,” Blake said. “I’m ready to go to Marshall and show them what I’m made of. I want to represent the state that I love and to be able to do it playing at the highest level is a dream come true.”
Blake was a key cog in the Monarchs’ march to the W.Va. Class AAA state championship last spring.”
The enthusiastic Blake said other schools had reached out to her, but once she talked with Marshall, the recruiting process was over and done with.
“I jumped on Marshall right away. I knew that was where I wanted to be,” she stressed. “My coaches had conversations with other schools, but the only other D-I offer I received was from Bowling Green State University.”
She said the deal breaker was she wanted to be somewhere that could grow, both on and off the field.
“I wanted to go somewhere that was going to develop not only my mind and body, but me as a whole,” she explained. “I absolutely adore the coaches at Marshall. First of all, they are all women under the age of 30 who were professional softball players or affiliated with Athletes Unlimited. I can’t wait to play for them. I’ve been a fan of theirs and now it’s an honor to be able to play for them.”
She said the camaraderie at Marshall was another plus.
“It’s one big community … one big family atmosphere. Each team supports each other and no sport is left out,” she added. “You play for something bigger than yourself. You play for the 75 (people) who passed away in the (1970) plane crash. You play for your team values and team morals.”
Ed West, who stepped down as the head coach at John Marshall after last season’s title run, coached Ava her first three years of high school.
“She was a fierce competitor who also had some skills to go with it,” he said. “She was also a leader on and off the field and a pleasure to coach. Her coaches and teammates loved her, but her opponents feared her. She has it all – speed, her glove and her bat. She can hit for average and power.”
As a freshman, Blake hit .340 with 15 runs batted in, 33 hits and a pair of homers. As a sophomore, she batted .448 with 32 RBI, 48 hits and seven homers, of which three were grand slams. Her junior campaign saw her slug .451 with 41 RBI, 44 hits and a single-season school record 15 home runs.
Blake will play her senior season under the direction of her father, Rob. She will major in nursing and minor in psychology with intentions on being a travel nurse.
In addition to her father, her mother, Heather, and older sisters, Aubrey, Abby and Anna, have been big supporters.
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