Whoever came up with the concept of pairing “sophomore” and “slump” in the same sentence couldn’t have been envisioning the likes of Ashton Perritt.
The former two-sport star at Whiteland Community High School recently finished his second full year at Liberty University, a Christian college in Lynchburg, Va., that competes at the Division I level athletically.
All Perritt accomplished for the Flames baseball program this spring was, well, a lot.
As impressive as the .343 batting average, seven doubles, six home runs and .512 slugging percentage are, it only covers half of the outfielder’s statistical bases. As a pitcher, Perritt appeared in 35 percent of Liberty’s games (23 of 65) and had a 2.09 earned-run average and a team-best 10 saves.
THE PERRITT FILE
Name: Ashton Perritt
High school: 2011 Whiteland Community High School graduate
College: Liberty University
Steals: 18 (in 21 attempts)
Inning: 38 2/3
Working 38-2/3 innings, the 6-foot-2, 190-pound Perritt, whose fastball was clocked as high as 96 mph in a 4-3 victory against Duke in early May, permitted only three extra-base hits (all doubles). He’s also responsible for a nearly 3-to-1 strikeout-to-walk ratio (37-to-13).
“Ashton had a great sophomore season at the plate and as our closer. He has blossomed into a potential high draft pick as a center fielder and/or as a right-handed pitcher,” Flames coach Jim Toman said. “He will enter his junior year as one of the top two-way players in the nation and fits very well into our Christ-centered university.”
Perritt saved his best for the season’s latter stages, going 10 for 25 at the plate in the six games necessary for Liberty to capture the Big South Tournament championship. He also pitched the save in four of the Flames’ five wins and delivered the game-winning hit in a thrilling 2-1 defeat of No. 1 seed Campbell.
Not surprisingly, Perritt earned tournament Most Valuable Player honors.
“I went from thinking I wasn’t going to play a lot to playing all the time,” said Perritt, who pitched only two innings as a Liberty freshman before Toman moved him to the bullpen in a Feb. 17 game at two-time national champion South Carolina.
“Then, later in the season, he asked me to lead off. I would lead off, and if the game was close I would go down to the bullpen to throw. I don’t know how my body held up. I feel like I aged a lot this season, but it’s all good because I have plenty of time to rest.”
As champions of the Big South the Flames earned the right to return to Columbia, S.C., which hosted an NCAA Regional.
Liberty opened with an 8-3 win against Clemson in which Perritt went 2-for-3 at the plate and stole his 17th base of the season. The Flames lost to the host Gamecocks the following day but regrouped to again knock off Clemson 3-1, as Perritt went 1 for 4 and chalked up his 10th save.
The Flames’ season finally flickered out June 3 via a 6-4 loss to South Carolina. Perritt produced two hits, including a double, but took the loss, pitching the first four frames and allowing six hits and four runs.
Perritt, like so many college baseball players carries, the dream of someday playing at the highest level. He made significant strides in that direction with his play this season.
Toman’s program last week produced four MLB draftees in outfielder Ryan Cordell (11th round, Texas), catcher Trey Wimmer (23rd, Chicago White Sox) and pitchers Josh Richardson (26th, San Diego) and Danny Grauer (38th, Cincinnati).
Liberty has had 53 players drafted since its inception 40 years ago, including three or more the past three MLB drafts. In 2011, a total of seven Flames players were so recognized, a Big South record for one program.
Perritt therefore realizes there is a chance he’ll be en route to some MLB franchise’s rookie camp not long after the final out of Liberty’s 2014 season is recorded.
“I’m probably going to jump on it because it’s always been a dream for me,” said Perritt. “The last game probably hurt my stock a little bit, but at the time I didn’t think about it because I was only worried about winning.”
Perritt is currently in Whiteland spending time with family and friends. However, his baseball exploits are about to steer him east as a member of the Licking County Settlers, a team in the Great Lakes Summer Collegiate League.
Based in Columbus, Ohio, the 10-team league provides Perritt the platform to continue improving in areas he most needs, namely strength, speed and developing a third pitch.
“I’m very competitive,” Perritt said. “After we lost to South Carolina, I have plenty of motivation.”