Christiansburg High School’s softball team has started the season by remembering an outfielder that is no longer with the group.
Ashlyn Poole died last year in a car accident, but her former teammates feel she remains with them in spirit. Now, they have another way to remember her. Friday afternoon a metal bench positioned behind the outfield fence looking out to where she would have stood this season was unveiled.
The “angel in the outfield” theme has become a thread for her former players. During every game, the girls’ wear hair ribbons with those words.
During Friday’s ceremony, her good friend Kendall Lewis spoke to the crowd. “Ashlyn held a love for sports that no one could take away,” she said. In addition to softball, Ashlyn also played volleyball and ran track with Lewis.
“She touched the hearts of many athletes, even in some surrounding areas. Her charisma and enthusiasm were infectious and spread throughout everyone,” Lewis said.
“Not only was Ashlyn a teammate to me, she was also my best friend. She taught me how to be strong and fierce,” she told onlookers that gathered in the outfield.
Lewis told the softball team that, as they continue their season, look at the bench and know that they have something others may not–an angel in the outfield.
“You have a girl looking down pushing, cheering and supporting you guys through every step, every pitch and every swing. You all have a guardian angel behind you, and she will always be your angel in the outfield,” she said.
Lewis is also a student representative to the Christiansburg Recreation Department that co-sponsored the bench. The recreation department and the Salem VA Medical Center worked together to provide the bench. Ashlyn’s father, Steve Lewis, is employed at the VA Hospital.
Christiansburg Parks and Recreation Director Brad Epperley said he felt the bench would be a great way and location to remember Ashlyn.
“We wanted to do something so her memory would last forever. So, every time, someone comes to the Christiansburg softball field, she will be remembered,” he said.
As part of the ceremony, Ashlyn’s aunt Becky read a poem called “Our angel in the outfield” written by her son.
It read: “There are no words we can express on the impact that you left with bright eyes so beautiful and green. She runs so fast she can’t be seen…… Watching over us and keeping us safe. They say the good die young. This seems to be the case. The number she always wore was her favorite and lucky number 4.”
Ashlyn’s mother, Melissa said she has been overwhelmed with the support the community has shown her family.
“Softball has been a big part of our family for a long time. The community has been amazing,” she said.
In addition, CHS softball coach Nate O’Dell said a plaque would be placed in the team’s dugout to remember their former teammate.
A memorial run and 5K was held Saturday in Roanoke to raise money toward a scholarship in Ashlyn’s name.