Fine, softball good mix last  eight seasons

By Wes Holtsclaw

   From Unaka High School to Milligan College, Ashley Fine was simply impressive on the softball diamond.
   Although an injury cut her senior season short with the Lady Buffaloes, the pitcher and infielder wound out eight solid seasons of softball in the county.
   "I'm glad I was able to go to Milligan," Fine said. "It was a lot of fun and I learned a lot. I just hated that I got injured."
   Milligan coach Wes Holly was pleased to coach Fine, who contributed a lot to the Lady Buff program.
   "She did an all-around great job and contributed a lot to the success of our team," Holly said. "When she had surgery, it hurt our pitching department. But I was pleased to coach a great young lady who gave a lot to our ball club."
   An all-conference player two years at Milligan, Fine added to her success at Unaka High School, where she was conference player of the year.
   "I don't think the practices were much different (at Milligan)," she said. "The competition was better and the teams were more disciplined."
   This past season, before her ankle injury, Fine had a 5-0 record for the Lady Buffaloes, pitching 10 games with a 2.27 ERA.
   She played in 21 games with a .326 batting average, knocking in 15 hits and five RBIs.
   Fine grabbed seven wins in 16 outings on the mound her junior year at Milligan, where she hit .246 and had a .946 fielding percentage.
   She could've been described 'simply dominant' during her high school years at Unaka, helping lead the Lady Rangers to the state tournament twice.
   Fine was 18-10 her junior season and 18-9 her final year in the maroon.
   She tossed several no-hitters, including a 3-0 victory over Oakdale to put Unaka in the state tournament her senior year.
   There were a few occasions in high school that stood out to the talented player.
   "When we started playing bigger double-A and triple-A schools and beating them, we got a lot of recognition and people knew we were for real." Fine said. "Going to the state tournament and winning a game was big because nobody expected us to win. We were only beaten badly once out of five games, so that was pretty special."
   Fine got to play for two of the top softball coaches in the area, under Hicks and Holly.
   "Coach Hicks knew so much," she said. "We went through drills all the time and he really set us with our mechanics. Coach Holly was good that he made you mentally strong."
   The daughter of John and Connie Fine, Ashley credits her family with a lot of her success.
   "I couldn't have been as good without them," she said. "Driving you to ball games and tournaments over the years. I played on three teams some summers before I could drive, and they made sure I was there. Even in college and after I could drive, they never missed a game."
   Fine still has a bright future ahead of her, one that could possibly include law school.
   "I'd like to attend law school and play some more softball somewhere," said Fine. "I've started playing a lot of golf and I want to keep doing something."