Overland Park, Kan. — Nittany Lion softball senior outfielder Ashley Griffith (Mt. Laurel, N.J.) was named a candidate for the annual Lowe's Senior CLASS Award on Wednesday. An acronym for Celebrating Loyalty and Achievement for Staying in School, the Lowe's Senior CLASS Award focuses on the total student-athlete and encourages those leaders to use their platform in athletics to make a positive impact.
Griffith is one of 30 candidates named nationally, as well as just one of five candidates from the Big Ten Conference. Griffith will serve as one of the team's co-captains this season and is a kinesiology major at the University Park campus.
Griffith holds a 3.95 cumulative grade-point average, while earning Academic All-Big Ten honors the past two seasons. Last season, Griffith was named the Big Ten Distinguished Scholar Athlete Award, which is awarded to athletes that hold a 4.0 grade-point average for one academic school year. Just 22 other Big Ten student-athletes were among that group for the 2008-09 academic year.
Griffith is one of the guiding forces of the Penn State squad, usually leading off for the Lions in the batting order. By doing so, she has also become one of the best bunters on the team, leading the squad and conference in sacrifices this year. Additionally, Griffith enjoys working with youngsters on their softball and field hockey games. Teaching others how to play her favorite sports brings her great joy.
Additionally, Griffith is a highly committed member of the THON movement. THON is an annual fundraiser at Penn State that raises money for pediatric cancer research and treatment. The aim of the fundraiser is to conquer childhood cancer. Griffith's venture into the THON experience has been helping to raise money and donations through worthy causes, such as outdoor work (raking leaves, shoveling snow, etc.). In addition to Griffith's work with THON, she has volunteered her free time in the summer as a field hockey and softball coach at home in New Jersey. She also helps with the PSU Softball camps to teach young athletes what she has learned to make them better.
On the field, Griffith enters the 2010 season as Penn State's best threat to reach base and the best fielder on defense. Last season, Griffith earned All-Big Ten Second Team honors for her play. She led the squad in hitting (.311, 41 hits), stolen bases (13) and sacrifices (18). The 18 sacrifices were the second-most in Penn State single-season history. She was second on the squad in on-base percentage (.372), and walks (13). Known for her slap hits from the left side of the plate, Griffith is a speedy and clever hitter that gives pitchers fits.
Additionally, she flashes a serious glove, earning the Defensive Player of the Year award from her teammates at Penn State in 2009. Griffith looks to climb up the ladder in the record books as she ranks third in sacrifices (33, on pace for 44, good for second), 11th in stolen bases (27, on pace for 36, good for 9th) and 12th in walks (46, on pace for 71, good for sixth). She is also tied-third in most hits in a game (4 vs. Maryland, 2009) in Penn State history.
The 30 candidates will be narrowed to 10 finalists midway through the regular season, and those 10 names will be placed on the official ballot. Ballots will be distributed through a nationwide voting system to media, coaches, and fans, who will select one finalist who best exemplifies excellence in the four "C's."
Penn State opens its season Friday at the Hotel Encanto Invitational in Las Cruces, N.M. against UTEP (2 p.m. ET). The Lions will play four more games after the UTEP game at the campus of New Mexico State University to wrap up the season-opening series including a matchup against Colorado State at 9 p.m. ET on Friday.
For complete coverage of all the Nittany Lion softball this season, visit GoPSUsports.com.
Follow Penn State Softball on Twitter @PSULionSoftball