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Gilreath celebrates birthday by signing with Winthrop

By Jim Fair, Editor
Published on Saturday, March 5, 2016

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Ansley Gilreath of Blue Ridge High School signs a letter-of-intent to play softball at Winthrop University. It was on her 18th birthday Friday.
 
 
 

Allison Gosnell Photo

Ansley Gilreath of Blue Ridge High School signs a letter-of-intent to play softball at Winthrop University. It was on her 18th birthday Friday.

 

 

 



Enlarge photo

Ansel and Meri Gilreath celebrate Ansley's signing with Winthrop University.
 

Allison Gosnell Photo

Ansel and Meri Gilreath celebrate Ansley's signing with Winthrop University.

 



Enlarge photo

The Blue Ridge High School softball team surround their teammate, Ansley Gilreath, for a memorable birthday and college signing photo.
 

Allison Gosnell

The Blue Ridge High School softball team surround their teammate, Ansley Gilreath, for a memorable birthday and college signing photo.

 

Ansley Gilreath celebrated her birthday exactly the way she wanted – signing a letter-of-intent Friday to play softball with Winthrop University.

The Blue Ridge High School power hitter passed on the official signing day to make the event memorable.

“I wanted to sign during the spring so it would be in softball season and I just figured why not make this day more special and sign on my 18th birthday,” Gillreath stated via email during her official visit at Winthrop Saturday.

Gilreath invited the entire softball, part of her community the past four years, to the signing. “We were close, not only the softball team, but the Blue Ridge community as a whole. We all really come together when needed and I love that about my small home town.”

Gilreath has played varsity softball for six years and was a three-time all-state and all-Region II-3A most valuable player.

She is a power hitter, smashing 33 home runs in her career. Her .590 batting average helped produce 80 runs batted in. Gilreath had 17 of her home runs in her sophomore season.

Opponents, Gilreath reasoned, had no choice but to pitch to her. “We really have other really great hitters in our lineup so when/if they did pitch around me there's someone else coming up behind me who's liable to hit one out too, so a lot of times they ended up having to pitch to me,” she stated.

“Ansley will add lots of power to our lineup, she's great defensively and a leader on the field,” said Winthrop co-head baseball coach Kendall Fuller. “She was recruited to play the corners.”

Gilreath has been one to do things her own way. Wanting to learn the core courses needed to be eligible to play in the NCAA, she learned in the eighth grade and set her student-athlete agenda. A torn ACL in her junior season was the only hiccup along the way.

“I somehow knew this was a part of the plan God had for me and I knew that if I wanted a shot at playing college ball I needed to know everything that had to be done to get there and made sure I met the requirements,” Gilreath stated.

Gilreath didn’t have any problems academically, maintaining a 4.0 grade point average throughout her career, and becoming a member of the Beta Club and National Honor Society with a 4.6 grade point average.

Gilreath was a three-sport star with softball her dominant sport. Despite missing her junior season, she came back within six months and proved her power as a home-run hitter and standout player at first and third base.

Along the way Gilreath was mentored by her father, Ansel. “My dad helped me a lot at an early age with really understanding and appreciating and loving this game. I knew I just had to continue playing after high school,” Gilreath said.

Gilreath’s mother, Meri, said she was, “So overwhelmed with emotion at (Ansley’s) signing. Just knowing that all of her hard work on and off the field was finally coming true in being able to live her dream of playing college softball.”

Meri said she was as proud of Ansley’s involvement with the community. “She gives back to the community with church kids, helps with two 14-under travel ball teams and helped with the Blue Ridge Middle School girls basketball team.  She also leads devotion and prayer with her high school and travel ball teams.  She amazes me every day with all she does and is always eager to give back & offer encouragement.”

The four-year plan for Gilreath is clear. She will be majoring in biology with the idea of getting into the medical field.

“In four years I see myself as a senior at Winthrop, trying to be a leader for the underclassmen and newcomers on and off the field in softball, life, and in faith,” she stated.

Gilreath plays travel softball with Carolina Elite coached by Brad Norton. Kendall Fuller and Mark Cooke have been her coaches.

 

 

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