May 3, 2012
Second baseman Ashley Burkhardt has played in 42 of Purdue softball's 47 games in 2012. With two weeks left of the regular season, purduesports.com checked in the her to get an update on how the season is going and also to get to know the rookie. Burkhardt, who goes by @smashley_4 on twitter, shares about goals, music and family in this week's Base By Base Q&A.
Let's start from the beginning, what was the most challenging part of the fall for you?>
Probably waking up at 6 a.m. every day. It was easy at first, but once I started getting used to it I needed someone to wake me up sometimes because it was tough getting up and then working out, but I felt more alive during the day. That was pretty tough.
How was the transition for you from high school to college softball?
In high school I definitely wasn't challenged as much as I am in college. I mean it was definitely a change. It was more mental coming in here. In high school, I just went with the flow and then once I got to college it was all mentally challenging.
If you could look into the future, what do you want to see yourself accomplishing by the end of your senior year?
That's a tough question. Well, I want to major in exercise and health and eventually become a personal trainer. Softball wise, by my senior year, I want to get All-Big Ten. I want to be a leader in batting average and just maintain my position and be a good leader.
Although this season is nearly over what were your goals for this year and how do you feel you're doing in getting to those goals?
Well, originally when I first got here I just wanted to get a starting position. Since I have that now I just want to be a big impact to the team and be someone that other teammates can look up to in the lineup and on the field.
Do you think staying positive is something you bring to the team?
Yeah. I try not to bring the team down if I'm ever playing badly and I just try to keep the team up. If someone else is down I try to bring them up as well just so we can all play our game.
Was there anything you were really nervous about before coming in this year? Have those nerves subsided now that you've played in a bunch of games or do you still get butterflies before some of the games or when you come up to bat?
The first few games that we played I did get very nervous only because I was pretty new at second base. I've seen as the season has gone on is that I don't get as nervous. I feel more comfortable. At the beginning of the season my throws were off and now I've been working on them, I feel comfortable. I feel really comfortable at second base now.
Do you still get butterflies sometimes though when you come to the plate and there are people on or after you make a big play?
Well, against Illinois as an example, I made a big play and then I went up to bat and I felt more confident. But, yeah, if I'm having an off day sometimes when I come to the plate I get nervous still.
What was it like getting on the bus for your first road trip? Now that you've been traveling a lot, what are the best and worst parts of it?
When I got on the bus for the first trip we were all so excited. We all tweeted about how fun it was and took pictures. Now, it's a bus ride and I just get excited to sleep on it.
What teams were/are you most excited about playing this year?
I was excited to play Notre Dame only because I know the coaching staff. One of the coaches was my hitting coach and I had an old teammate on that team, so I really wanted to beat them. Michigan State is another one that I really wanted to beat because one of my best friends plays for them. I'm also really excited to play Michigan still because they are a big team, a powerhouse that I really want to beat.
What is your guilty pleasure: the TV show, song, book or food that you can't live without?
Glee. I love that show and Grey's Anatomy.
What is on your iPod that would surprise your teammates?
What's on my iPod? Michael Jackson; my dad and I used to jam to him all the time. I love MJ. Oh, and I also have some New Kids on the Block.
How was it playing in your first college game? I know it took you a little while to get on the field because of an illness, but did that make it sweeter for you?
Sitting and watching my team and learning from them got me really excited for my first game. Then, when I did start, it was just excitement for me my first few games.
What's harder? Laying down the bunt or making diving plays on the field?
I'd say going to the plate and doing your job is probably harder than playing in the field. When you're on the field you are more comfortable there that you're going to make the play, but going up to bat it's more mental and a lot tougher to do your job.
Your family has made it out to see you play a few times. What's it like having them there? Can you hear them over the crowd when you're batting?
No, I can't hear them, but when I was little I used to always look up at my dad and he would tell me what to do on every play, so sometimes if I make a mistake I'll just look at him. He'll be staring at me, but I know he's not going to yell at me like he used to. I don't get nervous when he's out there, but I feel like I have a lot of pressure sometimes when dad's watching.
Finally, who is your hero or someone you look up to? What impact have they had on you?
My dad. He's done everything for me. He's been my coach since I first started playing. He always knows what I'm doing wrong and how to fix it. He basically he lived and breathed softball with me until I left for college. It's probably really tough on him not having me around anymore, but that's why they are at all the games.