By John Philip Wyllie
Having played softball since the tender age of seven, Ashley Walkup has had the opportunity to experiment in many different positions. The versatility she has displayed over the years is one of the things that make this Hilltop High School junior unique. Her level of involvement both on and off the field is another.
“Ashley is a three-sport athlete that moves from one season to the next and is always able to focus on the sport at hand. She leads through her actions, with how hard she plays and with the energy she puts forth. She is also very knowledgeable,” according to her coach, Nancy Acerrio.
This season Walkup has found a home at shortstop and while she would love to make that her permanent position previous seasons have taught her not to get too attached to any one spot.
“I’ve played everywhere but when I came here, I was mainly a catcher and a shortstop. I wasn’t expecting to play varsity right away, but Coach Acerrio needed somebody to play second base. I told her I would do anything that I needed to in order to play, so I quickly learned how to play there,” Walkup explained. This year she is pleased to be back in what she considers her natural position and playing for a team that appears on the rise.
“We reached the championship game of our own tournament recently and that is the best we have done since 1999,” Walkup said. “Last year was kind of rough. We lost a lot of our core players, but this year we are regrouping with a lot new ones and we are going to be very competitive. Mar Vista High will (provide) our toughest competition in league, but we think we can win back the banner.”
Walkup has some outstanding teammates to help her fulfill that goal. Among them are pitcher, Britnee Villa, third baseman, Alyssa Gonzalez, catcher Vanessa Baldiviez and center fielder, Veronica Mejia.
Walkup has always been a sure-handed fielder and this year she is contributing with her bat as well. Despite the fact that the season is only a few weeks old, she has already clouted two home runs and is hitting over .300 in the number two slot. Her biggest contribution however, remains what she does with her glove.
“You have to be quick, have good reflexes and be mentally prepared to play shortstop,” Walkup explained. “You have to know where everything is going to be and every situation that is likely to occur such as who is up to bat and where they (usually) hit. (As a shortstop) you are one of the leaders on the team in addition to the pitcher and catcher.”
Walkup’s leadership role does not end when she leaves the softball field. She is heavily involved in student government and recorded a perfect 4.0 last semester in the classroom. She sees high school softball as stepping stone to the next level.
“I’ve been working hard on my academics so that I can get into college and hopefully play. I’d like to stay in San Diego. I’ve always wanted to go to UCSD and I just visited the campus of Point Loma Nazarene. I’m also in the Compact for Success and SDSU is somewhere else I might want to go.”
Mexico is another place she would like to go. Not for school, just to visit. Several years ago she explored her Mexican heritage on a trip to Guadalajara and Guanajuato with her uncles. Someday, she would like to return.
“My dad’s entire family is from there and I love my Mexican heritage. My uncle sings mariachi music and I traveled with him there. I (particularly) loved the heritage and architecture that we saw.”