Softball

Former Walla Walla High School softball star Alyson Ambler enjoyed four prosperous years in the Blue Devil program.

Wa-Hi placed third in the Class 4A state championships both her freshman and sophomore seasons, won the state crown her junior year, and was runner-up in her senior campaign.

Ambler, a three-time team captain, helped lead the Blue Devils to four league, four regional and three district titles in her career.

“We were competitive and hated to lose,” she said. “That helped us achieve league, district, regional and state championships.

“We were not hoping to go to state, it was ‘How far can we go?’ Ambler said. “We had the mentality of ‘We’re going to be there.’ We saw the bigger picture.”

National and regional acclaim included being named Washington Gatorade Player of the Year, to the Louisville Slugger High School All-Region first team, and a MaxPreps All-American.

She was picked as league Most Valuable Player three times and Blue Mountain Female Athlete of the Year.

Ambler played collegiately at the University of Connecticut for four years. She earned a Bachelor’s degree in Human Development and Family Studies, and a Master’s in Elementary Education from online learning system Teach-Now.

Ambler, who started her teaching career at Milton-Freewater’s Ferndale Elementary School and is now at Kiva Elementary in Scottsdale, Arizona, said her freshman year at Wa-Hi was a learning experience.

“I hadn’t played with many girls on the team,” Ambler said. “As the year went on, they accepted having a youngster on the team.”

Thus confidence grew “because I knew I could hang with them,” she said.

Ambler described her sophomore season as “game on.”

“I knew what to expect,” Ambler said. “I knew what league, district, and state were all about. It was time to put on the working boots and go forward.”

Ambler said the championship campaign of 2011 “still gives me goosebumps.”

“It was a great experience to do it with players I’d played with since we were 10,” Ambler said. “I’m grateful we stuck together.

“I remember the feeling of striking the last girl out,” she said. “I was still in game mode, then the players rushed toward me. It was like a weight had been lifted off my shoulders.”

Ambler’s senior year ended one win shy of another state championship, but said she and her teammates “enjoyed the moment and the ride together.”

“We approached the year the same way (as 2011) — not fearing any team,” Ambler said. “The (opposing) pitcher (in the championship game) was tough. We did our best. We were happy to be there.

“We were sad we lost the game,” she said. “It was tough to swallow. It was bittersweet.”

Ambler played in 104 games her final two seasons at UConn and started 102 of those. She hit .271 her senior season and twice made the American Athletic Conference’s Weekly Honor Roll.

“I was trying to find who I was as a player my freshman year — things changed every day,” Ambler said. But it was a fun experience.

“It was a difficult task juggling all the positions on the field,” she said. “We went through a transition with a new coaching staff my junior year. But I learned how to overcome adversity and difficult situations. I enjoyed it.”

Ambler said sacrifices that she and her parents made — long hours of practices, games, and travel — were “100 percent worth it.”

“It all paid off and would for anyone who wants to pursue playing Division I softball,” Ambler said. “It’s made me a more competitive person and taught me how to get along with people. I’m happy my parents supported me throughout this whole experience.”

Roy Elia can be reached at royelia@wwub.com.