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Going the Distance

Former Ichabod starter looking to move up in Mariners organization

Brett Ash pitching for the Travelers

(Photo by Mark Wagner, Arkansas Travelers)

From The Ichabod - Spring 2018

On a sunny, warm afternoon in early April of 2012, Brett Ash took the mound at Falley Field against Missouri Southern State University. He retired the first 13 batters in order on the way to what would be the quickest game in Washburn history.

“Games like that don’t happen very often. It was one of those days where your strengths are playing to their strengths, and it’s all falling your way,” he said.

That 57-minute game where he struck out six, allowed three hits and threw just 59 pitches represents what he wishes every start was like.

Conversely, Ash, bba ’14, holds the school record for longest outing when he pitched all 11 innings of a game a year earlier. That more closely represents reality - hard work may take a while to pay off.

“That was probably the most accomplished start I had because I was able to push the limits physically and mentally,” he said. Somehow, between each inning, he convinced Coach Steve Anson to let him go back out. “I remember the last three innings I was begging him to let me finish.”

Ash played at Washburn from 2010-14, setting the school record with 25 complete games and finishing second with 199 strikeouts and third with 22 wins. He signed with the Seattle Mariners organization after his senior year. He’s now in his fifth season of minor league baseball, starting the year with the Double-A Arkansas Travelers.

“I remember the first time walking into spring training and seeing all the big-leaguers, the guys you see on TV,” Ash said. “That was super cool because you’re in awe.”

Now the big-leaguers remember him.

“It’s cool when you’re trying to build a name for yourself and they recognize who you are. They go out of their way all the time to see how things are progressing for you.”

Ash said the keys to joining them in the majors include listening to his coaches, staying healthy and mastering one more pitch.

“There’s great coaching here, but in pro baseball, it’s your career,” he said. “You’re not going to have coaches barking down your neck, but if you seek out wisdom from these guys, they’re going to give it to you.”

Ash developed a nutrition plan and keeps up routines in the weight room and training room after being banged up last year. Coming into this season, he feels comfortable with his fastball and breaking ball. He’s been working on his changeup.

“The biggest thing for me right now is mastering a pitch I can throw for a strike in any count,” he said.

Ash has a strong support system following him. He married the former Amanda Pickman, as ’14, and she was able to travel with him last season and attend spring training this year. His parents, Denise and Ted Ash, saw him in spring training and come to many games. When they can’t make it to Brett’s games, they’re at Washburn games. In the fall, they tailgate with baseball parents and alumni before football games.

“It’s been a dream come true,” Denise said. “We’ve spent a lot of time at Washburn, and we love coming back to watch games and tailgate. It’s like an extended family.”

They have a special bond at Washburn since Anson took a chance on their son as he came out of Washburn Rural High School.

“Coach Anson saw something in him,” Ted said. “Everything fell into place, and it felt like everyone belonged.”

The support system remains as Brett attempts to climb the ladder and break through this season.

“We’re all here to chase a dream to play in the big leagues. Grinding out a couple years, I can’t get discouraged after all the sacrifices I’ve made.” Brett said. “I still have so much fun playing the game.”

Whether it takes less than an hour or goes into extra innings, Brett will continue to pride himself on his dependability every time he takes the mound.

“Being a reliable, consistent starter will get you a long way,” he said.

The Ichabod Fall 2018

The Ichabod tells our story with features on alumni, faculty, staff, students and friends, along with the latest campus news. Read the 2018-19 fall edition online and look for it in mailboxes by October.

View past editions

 

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