Ashleigh Bousquet is taking her passion for softball into new territory. It's new territory for the rest of her young IPFW teammates, too.
Led by Bousquet, the Mastodons continue their season in the NCAA tournament for the first time in school history, drawing host Louisville in the first round at 7:30 p.m. Friday. The Mastodons qualified for the tournament after defeating North Dakota State 7-4 in the Summit League Tournament last weekend.
Before all the history was made, Bousquet was named first-team All-League for the second straight year. Also named were IPFW's Miranda Kramer, Larissa Franklin and Alex Bousquet (Ashleigh's twin sister).
``It's been real cool,” Ashleigh Bousquet said. ``It took awhile to sink in, but now that we are out here practicing, preparing, it's really sunk in. I knew it would happen, but not so soon.”
A junior, Ashleigh Bousquet leads the team with a .417 batting average, 15 doubles, 38 runs and nine home runs. As a freshman, she led the team with a .392 batting average and was named the Summit League Freshman for the Year. Then as a sophomore, she earned first-team honors and led the Summit League in RBI's with 58, setting a school record.
Though she's an underclassman, she is the team's designated leader as there are no seniors on the roster.
“We can fight through anything, whether it's four runs or five runs down, we will never give up,” Ashleigh Bousquet said.
Ashleigh Bousquet was 3 for 3 with two home runs in the Summit League championship game as named Most Valuable Player for the tournament.
“(Ashleigh) is a leader by example. She's a hard worker,” coach Amy Tudor said. “She is a catalyst for our offense. Once she starts hitting, we all start hitting. She played a huge championship game.”
Tudor saw those same skills when Bousquet was playing for Mishawaka Marian.
``I can remember recruiting her, watching her swing as a high school kid, and just saw the potential and now it's all coming into play,” Tudor said.
Tudor also coached twin sister Alex. Alex Bousquet, a junior, is batting .333, with 22 RBIs.
“Its fun, I wouldn't have it any other way with her playing next to me,'' Ashleigh Bousquet said. ``We each try to be better than the other one. By playing next to each other, we also know what the other is going to do. We each bring our own thing to table.”
Tudor saw there seemed to be a competition between the two sisters starting back in high school.
“Both of them probably thinks one of them is better than the other,” Tudor said. “They are both athletic kids, and they both want the best for each other. They feed off of each other, but they expect to be good.”
It will take more than being good when playing the Cardinals in the NCAA tourney. Louisville finished its regular season with a 46-11 record, including 23-3 at home.
“There will definitely be some nerves,'' Tudor said. ``Every game should have a little nerves. It will be a great experience for them. I hope we are young and dumb but also focus. We're going to make sure we are focused every single inning and focus on what we're doing. We want to focus on us.”
IPFW junior Ashleigh Bousquet and sophomore Larissa Franklin were named to the Summit League softball Academic All-League team, as voted on by the nine institutions' faculty athletics representatives and sports information directors.
North Dakota State also had two members on the 10-player team.
Bousquet, a South Bend native and a psychology major, ranks in the league's top 10 in 10 of 11 hitting categories.
Franklin, a native of Maple Ridge, British Columbia, and a biology major, is in the league's top 10 in four categories and leads the league with 61 hits.