When Amanda Good walked on to the softball diamond as a wide-eyed freshman four seasons ago, her new coach quickly realized she had found someone special.
"She's always had a great desire to play," Ashland coach Misty Potochnick, then in her first season at the helm of the then moribund program, remembers.
Good, along with fellow infielder Sarah Silbowitz and pitcher Bella Pribyl, earned spots on a varsity squad that would go winless in the Southern Oregon Conference in that 2006 season (5-16 overall).
"I thought I'd throw them into varsity games. They were going to be the foundation for what we're trying to build. She was willing to step up and meet the challenge," Potochnick said.
"Sarah, Bella and I were the freshmen that year and we came in with a different mentality," Good recalled. "That we wanted to win and wanted to change the program."
Three seasons later, Good has helped to do just that, emerging as one of the best players the school has ever produced, a two-time All-Southern Sky Conference third baseman, second-team All-State performer and the team's leader.
"She's definitely come a million miles," Potochnick said. "She's become a more vocal leader as her confidence has grown. She makes those around her better."
"She's so determined and puts a full effort out there," Silbowitz said.
The Grizzlies finished the 2007 season 11-14, beating Silverton in the first round of the Class 5A playoffs before losing to Glencoe in the first year after reclassification. The team took another step forward last season, finishing 21-5 and winning the first league title in school history. A run at a potential state title was derailed with an upset loss to Century in the second round of the playoffs.
"My sophomore year was when we changed everything," Good said. "We made history for the school, going to the playoffs for the first time. That was a really big moment."
Now a senior co-captain, Good is determined to go out on a winning note. The Grizzlies, however, have lost three straight and are 8-6 (0-2 SSC) entering Saturday's crucial doubleheader against Mazama. A sweep will put them right back into contention to defend their league title. A pair of losses, however, would put them four games behind the Vikings and set the stage for an uphill battle through the remainder of the season.
"When you're down, you have more to fight for," she said. "We're not done. Not even close."
While the team has struggled recently, Good has been better than ever. A line-drive hitter, she leads the team in six key statistical categories, including average (.422), hits (19), RBIs (16), doubles (five), extra-base hits (seven) and slugging percentage (.600). She's hit six home runs in her varsity career, including one this season.
"She's really good at knowing her zone," Potochnick said. "She's got good speed, that people don't realize."
For Good, the moment when the bat makes contact with a pitch, is pure delight.
"That's my favorite feeling in the world," she said.
Beneath the smooth exterior is the raw strength that she's developed through many hours in the weight room, where she currently lifts more than any other female athlete at the school.
"My goal was to be in the 400 club (combined total of squat, bench and clean lifts) and I did," said Good, also a member of the school's volleyball team. "I wanted to be in the 500 club this year, but right now I am just under that."
An honor roll student at AHS who spends much of her summers playing club softball, Good recently signed a letter of intent to play collegiately at Cal State University-Monterrey Bay, an NCAA Division II school in Seaside, Calif. The Otters are 28-22-1 this season after advancing to the D-II regional tournament last spring. Good plans to study marine biology.
"I narrowed it down to California, narrowed it down to Division II and started looking at all the options," she said. "It just clicked that that was where I wanted to be."
Before heading south for the fall semester, however, Good has plenty more to accomplish at Ashland.
"I think every day we get better and every day we work harder," she said. "There will be up moments and there will be down moments. We just keep pushing to get to state and see how far we can go."
Whatever happens, her legacy at Ashland is secure.
"Amanda's one of the kids I'll always remember," Potochnick said. "She's a great athlete, but an even better person."
Notes: Thursday's scheduled home game against North Medford was rescheduled for April 29, at North Mountain Park. "¦The Grizzlies' next opponent, Mazama is 11-2 this season, with both of its losses coming to Henley, which is currently ranked second in Class 4A. The Vikings have won four straight, including a sweep of Eagle Point to open SSC play last weekend.