August 8, 2009 in Washington Voices

U-Hi grad will catch for new Weber State team

Ashley Fargher, CCS player and former GSL MVP, recruited by Utah university
Steve Christilaw

The new construction in Ogden, Utah, has Ashley Fargher positively giddy with anticipation. Understandably so.

The former Greater Spokane League fastpitch Most Valuable Player from University High School is preparing for what she calls the biggest challenge of her softball career.

After two seasons playing for Community Colleges of Spokane, where she was an All-America catcher as a freshman before a shoulder injury forced her to a different position last spring, Fargher will be a key contributor in the first Weber State University softball team since 1983.

The Wildcats recruited Fargher to catch their first-year pitching staff as they return to Division I college softball in the Pacific Coast Softball Conference.

“I think this is the biggest honor anyone has given me,” Fargher said. “I’m excited about the chance to play and the chance to help build a brand-new program.

“I drove by the new field they’re building just the other day and I am so excited to be part of the first group to be able to play on that field. They have the dugouts in and they’re working on the landscaping. It’s going to be beautiful.”

Fargher will have help in Ogden. Heather Jackson, an All-GSL player at Shadle Park and Fargher’s co-captain at Spokane Falls, was recruited to play third base for the Wildcats. Outfielder Genasee Aman, who graduated from Central Valley in June, also signed a letter of intent to play for first-year coach Tina Johnson and the Wildcats.

“I haven’t heard much about who’s coming to play,” Fargher said. “I’ve played with Heather for a long, long time. I’ve never played with Genasee, but I’ve played against her enough times to know what she brings to the table.”

Jackson was a Northwest Athletic Association of Community Colleges All-America selection this spring and was named Most Valuable Player for the Eastern Region. Her batting average was over .470 as the Sasquatch lead-off hitter, ripping 23 doubles and stealing 20 bases during the regular season.

Fargher could have redshirted this past spring after having a torn labrum surgically repaired last fall. As a team captain, she said at the time, she couldn’t let her teammates down. Instead, she moved to the infield and hit well over .400.

It will help to have friends as teammates to help found a new softball program, she said. “There are some advantages to starting out with a team like this,” Fargher said. “The advantages would be that you’re starting something new and you have a chance to really make a name for yourself as a team. This is a great opportunity for the university, for the girls playing on this team, for the coach and for the league.

“The disadvantages are that you don’t have anything established. You don’t have a record, you don’t have a tradition.”

Weber State fielded a softball team from 1974 through 1983.

At first, the school planned for the program to compete as an independent before petitioning to join an established league, but the PCSC moved up the timetable by offering membership to six schools, doubling its size to 12 teams for the 2010 season.

Joining the Wildcats as first-year members are California State University Bakersfield, Idaho State, Northern Colorado, Seattle University and Utah Valley. Those six schools join established members Loyola Marymount, Portland State, Sacramento State, Saint Mary’s, San Diego and Santa Clara.

The PCSC will split into two divisions. The Coastal Division will consist of the six California-based schools. The remaining six schools will make up the Mountain Division.

“We’re going to get to work beginning in the fall,” Fargher said. “We’ll get our work done in the weight room over the winter and, in February, we’re going to start playing.

“We’ve got something like six tournaments to play in so that we can get our feet wet and then we’re on to league.”

These are heady times in the Pacific Northwest for softball, Fargher said.

“It wasn’t that long ago that people thought we didn’t play softball up here,” she said. “They thought we only played college softball in Southern California or in Arizona. They don’t do that anymore – not after Washington won the NCAA championship. I think people realize that we play some very good softball up here and I’m looking forward to carrying that forward.”

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