Washington's All-American senior second baseman doesn't mind that teammate Danielle Lawrie gets more attention.
Bam. Your 2009 batting average (.443) leads the team by 80 points and ranks 14th in the nation.
Whoosh. You own the career school record for stolen bases (132, with 36 swipes on 41 tries this season alone), but BOOM, you can also hit for power (eight home runs this season, second on the team).
You’re a multi-tool leadoff hitter, the Ichiro of the Washington softball team. With a career batting average of .394, you’re on track to finish third on your school’s all-time list of hitters.
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Yet few people know your name. What does a woman have to do to get a little attention around here?
Maybe play on a team that does not include headline-maker Danielle Lawrie, the national player of the year.
Unimaginable, says Ashley Charters, UW’s senior second baseman, who says she prefers playing Scottie Pippen to Lawrie’s Michael Jordan. She loves being able to merge their strengths while conceding the spotlight to her friend. You’ll hear no Waaah! from Charters when Lawrie gets trophies while she gets polite applause.
“I’m not the loudest or most outgoing person,” said Charters, named a first-team All-American, along with Lawrie, on Wednesday as third-seeded Washington prepared to begin play today (vs. sixth-seeded Georgia, 10 a.m. PT, ESPN) in its ninth Women’s College World Series in 17 seasons.
“Some attention is OK, but a lot of attention is a little too much for me,” she said. “I’m a pretty humble person. I don’t think I’m ever going to get up on a stage and start singing.”
Lawrie, though, is eager to sing Charters’ praises.
“She is underrated to the fullest,” said Lawrie, searching for words to convey Charters’ worthiness of broader recognition. “She does a great job of leading by example.”
Lawrie and Charters started the season on a “watch list” of 50 Division I softball players viewed as candidates for the player-of-the-year honor.
Both made the cut to 25, but only Lawrie advanced to the final 10 and final three before being presented the honor Tuesday night at ASA Hall of Fame Stadium in Oklahoma City.
“She should have been right where I was standing,” Lawrie said. “She could have easily been in one of our three spots. I’m a little upset that she wasn’t, actually. As a pitcher, there are a lot of other hitters that I would rather face than her.”
Charters can slap or slug as situations dictate. Her season highlights range from a 16-game hitting streak to a walkoff home run against defending national champion Arizona State.
Her speed, inherited from her sprinter parents (her mom ran for Hawaii as a collegian), puts defenses on edge, and Charters gets on base a lot. Her on-base percentage (.502) is just a whisker outside the NCAA’s top 30.
But jealous? Don’t be silly, Charters says. She may get overshadowed, but Charters knows she’s not undervalued.
“It was an honor to be on that list,” she said. “To win it would be cool, but my teammate won it, which is awesome. We were pulling for each other. Danielle’s pretty much carrying our team this year. Without her, we wouldn’t be here. I don’t need recognition to keep doing what I’m doing. I’m fine being in this role.”
Charters, 23, does have her admirers. In the National Pro Fastpitch draft in February, the Rockford, Ill., Thunder made her the 11th overall pick. The Idaho native who now claims Beaverton, Ore., as her hometown was one of 27 players invited to the U.S. national team’s selection camp in June.
A sociology major who can envision herself as a future third-grade teacher, Charters says she will pursue those softball options.
“I’m just not ready to give it up yet,” she said. “To say that I’m done with softball after our last game would be difficult. I think I’d miss it too much.”
First, though, she and Lawrie get a second chance at a World Series title. Both were all-tournament team selections in 2007 when the Huskies split four World Series games and finished third.
Both missed last season as redshirts, Lawrie to train with the Canadian national team, Charters to let a hip operation mend.
“I’d like to say we can win it all, and I’m really confident going in because we have Danielle,” Charters said. “I won’t be as nervous as I was the first time. All of that is going to help us a lot.”
|Off the Charters|
|2008 Redshirt season (hip injury)|