LORETTO (EYT/D9) – Growing up just a brisk walk away from DuBois Central Catholic High, it was destiny that 2019 DCC graduate Ashley Wruble would make an impact in her four years of high school.
(Photo courtesy of Saint Francis Athletics)
After a senior season that included a .632 average, 13 wins in the circle, an all-state selection, and leading her team to the PIAA state title game, it is easy to see that she certainly made her presence felt in her time as a Cardinal. She also was a basketball and volleyball player for the Cardinals, but the game of softball since her Little League days has always been her favorite.
“I have been lucky enough to play with most of the same girls from Little League all the way to high school travel softball,” Wruble said. “I am thankful to have experienced playing in DuBois Little League. The community puts so much time, money, and effort into baseball and softball and it helped me meet some of my closest friends.”
When it came time to enter high school, Wruble was ready for the challenge and became a four-time all-state selection and one of the top players in Cardinal softball history. She was a member of three District 9 championships and four trips to the PIAA state playoffs in class A, including a trip to the state finals in 2019 as a senior.
“It is amazing to think back on those teams and the great opportunities we had,” she said. “We all owe so much to Coach (George) Heigel and staff for putting so much time and effort into softball for us. They helped to make me the player I am now and I really owe everything to Central.”
When it came time to choose a college, Wruble hoped to receive an offer to continue her career at the Division I level. There was one particular school she was interested in above the rest before the offer came from Saint Francis University. The Red Flash softball program has had a few DuBois natives playing for the program over the last few seasons, including Wruble’s former high school teammate, Jordy Frank.
“My sophomore year of high school, I went to Saint Francis with (Frank) to watch a game and it just felt so much like home and going to Central,” Wruble said. “I even considered going there even if softball did not work out there.”
Saint Francis is also a school that works with their student-athletes who are interested in the Division I athletics experience but also are looking beyond their days as athletes, in the business and medical fields in particular. For Wruble, she found the perfect fit in occupational therapy. Becoming an occupational therapist was a field she first discovered when seeing professionals working with her younger brother, Jayden.
“My brother has special needs, and I saw the impact that occupational therapists had on him,” she said. “I thought maybe I could help children like him some day in the future with my main goal to become a pediatric occupational therapist. I knew I wanted to help other people who are like my brother. He is just my favorite person in the whole world.”
Jayden is social and friendly, and Wruble made sure to acknowledge how blessed she is to play for a program like Saint Francis with coaches and teammates who love him so dearly.
It is this group of girls and coaches who are not just a special group off the field, but they have taken care of business on the diamond as well.
They are four-time reigning North East Conference (NEC) Champions and have played in the NCAA Tournament in 2017, 2018, 2019, and 2021 with games against Texas and Oregon in 2021 in the Super Regional. Despite losses to each, the program finished the 2021 campaign with an impressive 40-10 record overall.
“It is indescribable to be an NEC CHampion and to keep the streak alive,” said the DuBois native. “They picked us number two in the preseason polls and we faced a lot of adversity in a COVID altered season with games being cancelled minutes before we are getting on a bus to leave, but we overcame it all. This team worked so hard both in practice and in the classroom to help us earn it.”
While it is likely that Wruble will be working with children in a school or in a children’s hospital setting following her days at Saint Francis, she has also launched her coaching career, helping to coach a local Little League softball team this summer while working at a local pharmacy over the past few months.
She is planning to stay close to home after her days as a Red Flash softball player as almost all of her family resides in DuBois to this day, including her parents Amy and Brian.
“My parents I owe so much credit and praise to,” she said. My mom always pushed me to be a great player and student and my dad traveled to every tournament with me with and completely shaped the softball player I am today. They helped me learn how to set goals for myself and showed me how to go after them while helping me to achieve them. I really owe everything to them.”
The former Cardinal standout also credited DuBois Xtreme, Phillipsburg Blaze, and the Hollidaysburg Diamond Devils for helping her to play with some great teammates and for helping to push her to become a better athlete and softball player overall.
Wruble still has three more years as a Red Flash student-athlete and there are more NEC titles to go after. The 2022 season will mark her final year of softball with long time teammate Jordy Frank, and hopefully it will mean an even larger role for Wruble, who is listed as a utility on the athletics website.
“I will play any position they ask of me. I will pinch hit and pinch run in order to help the team and help us win games.”