Fifth-year senior psychology and art education double major Ashtyn Patterson currently plays shortstop for FMU’s softball team and is leading the NCAA II in hit-by-pitches this season.
“Getting hit by pitches is never the plan when I step in the box,” Patterson said. “However, as a leadoff, having a good on-base percentage is my main goal, so I will take a free base anytime it’s given to me.”
Patterson was a finalist for the 2021-22 Murphy Osborne Award, given by the Conference of the Carolinas to recognize the league’s outstanding senior student-athlete.
Patterson, a native of Tennessee, was a strong candidate, with a perfect 4.0 grade point average at FMU as a double major.
Softball has been a part of Patterson’s life from a young age.
“I started playing softball when I was 7 years old,” Patterson said. “Growing up, my sister was a cheerleader, and I remember my dad was always asking me what sports I was interested in.”
Her father encouraged her to try something different, and he played a large role in making softball a central part of Patterson’s life.
“Looking back, I think he was just trying to convince me to do something else so he didn’t have to be a cheer dad 24/7,” Patterson said. “He eventually talked me into picking up a softball, and I’m glad he did because here we are 15 years later.”
To dominate on the field, players must have something to set themselves apart from their opponents. One of the tools Patterson uses to gain a competitive advantage is the control of her mental state.
“Softball is an extremely mental sport,” Patterson said. “In this game, you are going to fail more than you succeed. So, for me, I always strive to have a short-term memory and just play in the moment. We talk a lot about controlling the controllable, and this helps me a lot in keeping a positive mindset.”
The women’s softball team is currently 9-5 in the conference and 23-14 overall, including a big win over nationally-ranked West Chester University at the beginning of the spring season.
Patterson has big goals for this season, especially since this is her final one as a collegiate athlete.
“The season is flying by, so personally, I am trying to soak in every minute I have left on the field because these are moments I will never get back,” Patterson said. “This team has the ability to go extremely far, and I am super excited to see what we can do in the conference tournament and beyond.”
Regardless of the results on the field, Patterson has a strong connection with her teammates, making the season that much more enjoyable.
“This team is just really special, and I’m thankful I get to play my last season surrounded by each of these girls and coaches,” Patterson said.
Pre-game rituals vary for each person. Patterson said she is not one for superstitions but instead feels the best way to be prepared for an upcoming game is to feel confident.
“Oftentimes, a few teammates and I will stay after practice the day before a game and our assistant coach Coach Bagwell, will throw us some live [pitches],” Patterson said. “This gets me feeling good and ready to come out swinging on game day.”