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Donner ready for the Division 1 challenge

File photo by Steve Muscatello Former New Ulm High School pitcher Ashyln Donner signed a National Letter of Intent to play softball at Mercer College in Macon, Georgia.

NEW ULM — In the end, Ashlyn Donner always wanted to play Division I softball, and now, she will get that chance.

Donner inked her National Letter of Intent in November to play at Mercer University in Georgia. The 2019 New Ulm High School graduate spent her freshman year at Junior College Division I school Chipola College in Florida but didn’t get many games in because of the COVID-19 pandemic and an injury that has since healed.

Donner is scheduled to play for Mercer beginning this spring semester. She will head down to Georgia in January and the Bears will begin play in February.

“It kind of came out of nowhere and it was just perfect timing,” Donner said. “It’s always been my goal to make it Division 1 and so it’s kind crazy that it’s actually happening. I knew that it was a dream of mine. It definitely doesn’t feel real, and it’s pretty crazy since I’m going in January. Instead of finishing two years at Chipola, I’ll be jumping into something in the middle of the year.”

Donner had a spectacular career at NUHS, especially in 2019 when she was named The Journal’s Player of The Year. That year, she went 20-3 with 270 strikeouts, 10 shutouts and a 0.71 ERA. She was also named All-State First Team as well as All-Section and All-Conference.

Last spring at Chipola, she went 9-2 with a 2.59 ERA. She struck out 43 and allowed 58 hits in 56 2/3 innings.

Donner will be a freshman eligibility-wise at Mercer because the NCAA granted the student athletes an extra year of eligibility.

“I happened to email them because they’re a really high academic school and that’s obviously my number one priority, academics and then softball,” she said. “It’s just been a good school that I’ve kind of known about, I haven’t looked into their softball program before, but I just decided to reach out to them. It just happened that they needed a pitcher to add to their player family and so I was willing to leave after my fall season at Chipola. It was just perfect timing for everything.”

She said that her leg injury has healed and she’s ready to go.

“I sprained my LCL in my knee so I had to take a month-and-a-half to two months off, so it was pretty rough not being able to do anything, but I’m fully back now,” Donner said.

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