The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO

Sports

June 21, 2012

Bryce Ash signs with Missouri Valley

Joplin High School spring graduate Bryce Ash signed a baseball letter of intent with Missouri Valley College on Wednesday.

Deon Duncan, an assistant for coach Bill Browett, came from Marshall — located about equal distance between Columbia and Kansas City just off I-70 — for the signing ceremony.

NAIA Division I Missouri Valley also is a member of the Heart of America Athletic Conference.

Ash, a three-year letterman for Joplin, started as a senior at shortstop and was a part-time starter as a middle infielder as a junior.

The right-handed batting Ash, a 5-foot-6, 125-pounder, led off for Kirk Harryman’s Eagles.

Said the Vikings’ Duncan: “We’re excited about signing him. We like (on defense) his foot speed, soft hands and strong arm. He also hit the ball well when we saw him play.”

Said Harryman: “He’s a better player than his batting average (.224) indicates. He hit into some tough luck. He found ways to get on base — that’s why we kept him in the leadoff spot — and he carried us during one stretch.

“Bryce worked very hard to achieve that goal of playing in college,” Harryman said. “We’re proud of him. I’m predicting he’ll do well at Missouri Valley.”

Ash, who was 9 of 12 in stolen bases, tied for the team lead in runs scored (20) and walks (14).

The size of Missouri Valley, which has an enrollment of less than 2,000, pleases Ash.

“The campus is small,” Ash said of his visit to the Marshall school. “Really, it all was amazing. It felt like home.”

There’s no question about what he needs to do — at least from his perspective — to improve his skills for college.

“I need to start lifting and become stronger. I need to put on some weight,” Ash said.

Bryce, who wants a career in teaching/coaching, is the son of Karen and Steve Ash. They have another Eagle on the diamond — junior Tristan.

Incidentally, you can bet Duncan was flooded with memories while driving to Joplin.

He spent nearly 30 years in public schools — several as a coach — and they included stints at Seneca, Pierce City, Avilla, Hurley, Appleton City and Iberia.

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