Whatever it takes.
In 2018, the Poynette softball team made its second appearance in three years in the WIAA state championship game, bringing home the program’s fourth title with a 2-0 victory over Tomahawk in the Division 3 final.
Senior third baseman/pitcher Ashley Hellenbrand returns from that team, eager to guide the Pumas to more success this spring with her infectious blend of ability, attitude and willingness to do whatever it takes.
“On this dirt, you always have to be ready for the unexpected, no matter what position you’re playing,” Hellenbrand said.
Hellenbrand provided constant production at the plate last year, delivering 28 hits, including two home runs, and driving in 24 runs. Indicative of those numbers, Hellenbrand had a .428 batting average, .536 on-base percentage and a slugging percentage of .625.
While her success at the plate was notable, her flexibility across the field gave the Pumas a leader that eclipses the cliché of a “five-tool player.” And that led to Hellenbrand earning a first-team All-State honor from the Wisconsin Fastpitch Softball Coaches Association.
“My main position is third base, but I do pitch at times and can be used as a utility player as well,” Hellenbrand said, “I love third base, but I’m always prepared to enter the circle at any given time if needed.”
Her pitching was needed three times last year, and Hellenbrand picked up one victory and two saves for the 23-1 Pumas.
Hellenbrand, who’s been playing softball since the age of five, starting with T-ball, reflects on last year’s senior-heavy championship team — including Division 3 state player of the year Mattie Bredeson — while holding optimism over this year’s roster. On this year’s team, Hellenbrand is the only senior.
“We lost some great seniors who contributed tremendously to our team last year, but we have a lot of talent to fill in the positions that are needed,” Hellenbrand said.
And now that she’s a senior, Hellenbrand relishes the opportunity to step into a leadership role, especially with this team’s mentality.
“It’s a privilege being a leader on this team with such a great group of girls. We are always supportive of one another and always keep a positive attitude no matter what the situation is,” Hellenbrand said.
Her attitude will not only have an effect on the team’s success, but Hellenbrand’s looking forward to the success it brings after she concludes her prep career.
“I hope to have a successful season and enjoy every step of the way this year with Poynette,” Hellenbrand said, “and after high school I will be attending (UW-)La Crosse to earn a degree in business.”
But for now, Hellenbrand understands the importance of keeping her focus centered and is extremely appreciative of the moment that her hard work has cultivated and the platform that Poynette has given her to showcase it.
Hellenbrand said she’s thankful for “having the opportunity to play with such a successful program led by such a passionate coach of 39 years (Bob Tomlinson), and having so much support from the community and the coaches who have dedicated their time to the Poynette Fastpitch Organization.”