Stanford Spotlight - Jonny Ash
May 8, 2001
Stanford freshman Jonny Ash has deep roots in East Bay baseball tradition.
As a youngster, Ash dressed in an Oakland A's uniform and his father, Wil, regularly took him to the team's games at the Oakland Coliseum. Wil went to high school with former Oakland pitcher Dave Stewart and was a friend of Tony Phillips as well.
The East Bay baseball tradition ran much deeper with Wil playing collegiate baseball at California.
Still, Ash ended up at Stanford.
'Stanford called on the first day of the recruiting process,' Ash recalled. 'Cal didn't expect me to consider any other schools. They didn't really start pursuing me until they found out that Stanford was recruiting me. By then, it was too late.'
'My father told me that if he were in the same situation that I was in, he would have also chosen Stanford also,' said Ash. 'But, he told me that he was never going to be able to wear a Stanford baseball hat in public.'
Stanford ended up with a good find. Ash's strong left-handed bat earned him frequent pinch-hitting duty in the early and middle parts of the season. He delivered on several occasions and is 7-for-15 (.467) as a pinch-hitter this year. Among his pinch-hitting highlights have been a two-RBI double in the ninth inning at Arizona State (3/31) to help lift the Cardinal to a 5-2 win and a key two-RBI double versus Washington (3/25).
Ash's consistent success as a pinch-hitter earned him a few random starting assignments throughout the year, but he was 0-for-15 in his first five starts before exploding in his last three games.
Ash earned his sixth start of the season at California (4/29) and responded by going 2-for-5 with a double and an RBI. Although he didn't start in his next game versus Santa Clara (5/1), he pinch-hit in the third inning and ended up 3-for-3 with two RBI. Ash then put up a 2-for-3 effort as the starting designated hitter in Stanford's most recent game at Sacramento State (5/2). Ash has reached base in seven of his last eight appearances, going 5-for-6 with a walk and a hit-by-pitch.
Ash's current success did not seem so evident to one Little League coach that Ash claims made a comment that has been his motivation since the age of 11.
'He just told me that I was too small to play professional baseball,' said Ash. 'From that point on, I have really wanted to prove everybody wrong. I've been sure to work as hard as I can to make baseball a really important part of my life. That comment really got me going and helped me realize how much I love the game of baseball.'
It may seem strange that Ash's first career hit as a starter came against the Golden Bears at Evans Diamond. Ash claims there was an evening stranger sighting in the stands that day in Berkeley -- Wil sporting a big 'S' on his Cardinal baseball cap.
by Kyle McRae