Ashlyn Lyons (in gray) surrounded by family at her signing with Montana’s softball team Wednesday night.
WALLA WALLA — As she finished signing her name on the dotted line, Ashlyn Lyons became the fourth player to sign a national letter of intent to play softball at the University of Montana on Wednesday evening.
Lyons, a DeSales senior, will play first base on the Grizzlies’ first softball team in school history.
“It’s so exciting to be a part of history,” Lyons said. “I’m going to be the first first baseman. Our team is going to put on the first uniforms. Somebody is going to get the first hit and we’ll win the first game in Montana softball history. That’s really special.”
Lyons said she wanted to stay close to home, but realized that outside of the Pac-12, there are not many softball programs in the Northwest. When she found out Montana was starting a program, it seemed like a perfect fit, she said.
For Lyons, it was a thrilling moment as she signed her name in front of around 75 family members and friends. As for Montana, the coaching staff should be ecstatic about a player who constantly strives to improve her game, DeSales assistant coach Louie Murray said.
“All this hard work that she’s been doing since she was 8, 9 years old — it’s all coming to fruition right now,” Murray said. “It’s really cool too that she’s going to a program that’s just starting out.”
But getting to this point was not easy for Lyons. She constantly spent late nights in the batting cages and travelled to Seattle for practice on weekends in order to reach her lofty goals of playing college softball.
Now, Lyons is seeing her sacrifices paying dividends.
“The football games, the missed dances, all that is definitely worth it,” Lyons said.
Lyons began playing softball when she was only 3 years old. She joined the Irish softball team as an eighth grader and immediately led DeSales to a third-place finish in state that season.
Now looking back on her career in green and gold, Lyons said she has become a better leader and a more complete player during her four years.
“I’m very lucky to have been at a small school where I’ve been in a leadership role, because now being the first team ever, we’re going to need a lot of that,” Lyons said.
Murray echoed Lyons’ sentiment, adding that Montana is receiving an ideal player to build a program around.
“She’s a natural born leader,” Murray said. “It’s not a ‘do as I say’ but ‘do as I do.’ She’s not too vocal, but she mainly just leads by example. She’s not afraid of anything.”
Lyons said she plans on studying education during her time at Montana.
Luckily for Irish fans, there is still one more season for Lyons to shine.
“I’m looking forward to being on the field with my teammates and my coaches one last time,” she said. “Hopefully, we’ll leave our mark.”