Wa-Hi's Ambler fulfills a dream

Wa-Hi pitcher Alyson Ambler inks a full-ride scholarship to play at Connecticut, fulfilling a dream she's had since she was 11 years old.



Alyson Ambler addresses a crowd at Wa-Hi before signing a national letter of intent to play softball on a full-ride scholarship for Connecticut Tuesday.


Alyson Ambler celebrates after signing a full-ride scholarship to the University of Connecticut Tuesday at Wa-Hi.

WALLA WALLA - Alyson Ambler fulfilled one of her dreams and joined an elite sorority at the Walla Walla Public School offices Tuesday evening.

Ambler inked her NCAA Division 1 letter of intent to attend the University of Connecticut on full softball scholarship.

"I started T-ball because my parents (Chip and Debbie) wanted me to try athletics," Ambler said of her softball beginnings. "I did not like it.

"I took a year off, and that's when I started to go," Ambler continued. "When I was 9, I was not good. I'm not a natural athlete. I moved into ASA (American Softball Association) when I was 10, and that's when I started to see growth. When I was 11, I had a dream that I wanted to be a college athlete. The dream started, and now it's finally here."

Of the thousands of softball players, there are very few D-1 scholarships, but Ambler has the statistics to support the UConn Huskies' faith in her.

Ambler was the 2011 Gatorade Washington softball player of the year and was the 2011 Columbia Basin Big Nine 4A softball MVP. She was 15-0 with a .57 ERA and 171 strikeouts in 98 innings in the circle, and at the plate, Ambler, now a senior at Wa-Hi, hit .506 with nine home runs and 34 RBIs.

It is even more unusual that Ambler earned a full-ride scholarship.

"I have to pay no out-of-pocket money," Ambler, who carries a 3.78 GPA, said of her scholarship. "There are not a lot of full-rides (in softball). Usually, pitchers and catchers get the most money as they are most needed. But still, not even the best of the best get full-rides. I was lucky to get one."

How does one get discovered by those East Coast Huskies?

"During the summer I play in ‘Showcases' - recruiting tournaments," Ambler said. "I sent out 62 emails before every weekend (Showcase) to different colleges. They (UConn) came and watched me play in two games and contacted me."

Ambler was contacted by other schools, but didn't find the right fit.

"I felt like I wanted to explore different things," she said. "I kept exploring until I found one (where) I knew I wasn't going to regret anything. Even though it (Connecticut) is across country, it's going to be a blast."

The Huskies sold Ambler partially because of their plans for the right-handed pitcher and power hitter.

"I was looking for a school where I could pitch and hit," Alyson said. "UConn offered me to pitch, and when I wasn't pitching, to play outfield and hit. It was just perfect. I wanted to hit because hitting is my favorite."

For Wa-Hi coach Jerry Humphreys, Ambler marks the second consecutive player that his program graduated to the D-1 level.

Hope Klicker signed last spring and is a freshman softballer for the Cougars of the College of Charleston, and Ambler stays in touch.

"We had to go cross country (to wind up being a Cougar and a Husky)," Ambler said. "I talk to Hope quite often. Since she went that far away, she tells me about how it's going to be."

But first there is the matter of the Blue Devils defending their 2011 4A softball title. Ambler hit a home run and pitched a shutout as Wa-Hi defeated Marysville-Pilchuck 1-0 in last year's championship game. Ambler thinks the Blue Devils are ready to defend their title.

"College will come before you know it, but I want to focus on my high school career," Ambler said. "I want to make sure we go out with a bang. This year, we're going back for it (another title)."


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