Following a rollercoaster junior season, Ashley Brokeshoulder is already thinking ahead to 2013, in what will be her final year in the NCAA ranks. The 21-year-old, who has Choctaw and Absentee Shawnee ancestry, is a softball pitcher with the Texas Tech Red Raiders, the women's university team.
Brokeshoulder and her teammates concluded their 2012 campaign on May 19 with a 2-0 loss to Harvard University at the NCAA Regional tournament in Seattle, Washington. In their other matches at that four-team regional tournament the Red Raiders defeated Maryland 6-1 but lost 2-0 to host Washington, the team that won the event. Texas Tech finished the season with an over-all record of 41-17.
But Brokeshoulder did not play as much as she would have liked to this year. That's because she only joined the squad in mid-season, after recovering from a bout of mononucleosis. Upon her return Brokeshoulder was primarily used as a relief pitcher and not as one of the club's two starters.
"I was just excited to get back playing," she said. "I started off slow but then I got into it."
Brokeshoulder appeared in just seven games this season and started just one match. She posted a 2-0 record and a 2.33 earned-run average. Brokeshoulder, who is from Shawnee, Oklahoma, had played considerably more during her first two seasons at Texas Tech.
During her freshman year she appeared in 24 games and had 11 starts as well as an 8-6 record and 2.43 ERA. And during her sophomore season she played in 21 matches and had seven starts. Even though her ERA shot up to 5.25, Brokeshoulder posted an 8-0 record.
As for one of her goals in her senior year, Brokeshoulder would love to have a spot in the Red Raiders' starting rotation.
"I feel if I work hard I should be able to do that," said Brokeshoulder, who is studying Nutrition Science at the university.
The two players who received the majority of starts for Texas Tech in 2012 will both be back next season. Cara Custer is going into her sophomore season while Brittany Talley will be a junior.
Brokeshoulder realizes the fact she will be a senior does not give her any sort of advantage.
"My coach as said it doesn't matter what year you're in it's how you play," she said. Texas Tech coach Shanon Hays said he was impressed with Brokeshoulder during her limited action this year.
"She came on for us late in the spring and provided us with several solid relief appearances during Big 12 play and also in the regional," he said. Hays is also hoping Brokeshoulder's solid late-season efforts carry over into her 2013 campaign.
"We hope Ashley will build on that experience and be ready to have a great senior season," he said.
During each of her first three years at Texas Tech, Brokeshoulder and her teammates have competed in one of the 16 NCAA regional tournaments. But they've never advanced past that. She's hoping that changes next year and that the Red Raiders can be one of the 16 teams to earn a berth in the Super Nationals. And then from there eight squads qualify for the Women's College World Series.
The Red Raiders have eight players who are graduating this season. But Brokeshoulder and her teammates are excited about some of those players who have been recruited and will be joining the program.
"Our coach has told us a bunch of those girls coming in are going to be able to fill those roles," Brokeshoulder said.
To help prepare for her senior year Brokeshoulder plans to suit up for a women's softball team that will participate in various Native tournaments in Oklahoma this summer. She anticipates she'll play in three events throughout the state.