Ashley Burnham hasn't fully adjusted to life without softball — yet.
Just two months removed from her last collegiate game, the recent James Madison University graduate has since moved back to her hometown of Danvers after playing four years of college softball in Harrisonburg, Va.
With such a prolific career in a sport that she's played since she was a little girl now in her rearview mirror, Burnham has no qualms about 'officially' retiring after all that she's accomplished on the diamond.
"I didn't really have any desire to play softball after college competitively," said Burnham, who didn't rule out playing slow-pitch softball game here or there. "I always had the mindset that after I played four years of college that my career would be over."
A four-year starter at Danvers High under head coach Tara Petrocelli (and a two-time Salem News Player of the Year), Burnham left for JMU in the fall of 2008 on a Division 1 scholarship. She ultimately made her mark as the four-year starting shortstop and two-year captain for the Dukes.
"Going into my freshman year, I had high expectations for college in general and just really wanted to make the most out of my opportunity," said Burnham, who was named to Colonial Athletic Association All-Rookie team her freshman year.
This past season, the Dukes finished 30-26 overall and an impressive 15-5 in the CAA. After a disappointing conference campaign during her junior season (8-11), Burhnam made sure to go out with a bang during her final year.
The now-22-year-old was named the CAA Player of the Year for the second time (also in 2010). In doing so, Burnham became the first player in conference history win the award twice.
She finished the regular season hitting .342 with a .401 on-base percentage and a .671 slugging percentage, and was named to the All-CAA team for the third year in a row.
Burnham also led the team in doubles (14), home runs (11), runs (37) and RBI (40). She finished her career as JMU’s all-time leader in consecutive games started, home runs (35), doubles, RBI and assists, and became just the second player in school history to surpass 200 career hits.
"Playing college softball is an accomplishment that I'll always be proud of. I'm so thankful for the past four years," Burnham said of her time in Virginia. "I feel lucky and privileged to have had such an awesome experience in college athletics."
A naturally gifted athlete, Burnham never rested on her talent alone. She worked hard to help make her team better, whether it was summer strength and conditioning exercises or batting practice during the regular season. No matter the time of year, Burnham put in the work.
This will be first summer since 2000 that Burnham hasn't trained or played softball. And while she doesn't have any current plans regarding softball, she doesn't rule out the option of playing again later on down the road.
"I know that I'll definitely always love and be around sports in some way or another, but I'm happy to be home from school," explained Burnham, who is now working for Arbella Insurance Group as an adjuster. "I don't think any of this will really kick in until September, when I realize I'm not just working a summer job.
"Not playing is definitely something I'm not used to. It's a little weird, but it's nice to be able to enjoy other activities."