Fort Lewis College has its next head softball coach.
Less than two months after the NCAA Division II program moved on from Elle Fracker after four seasons, FLC athletic director Brandon Leimbach announced Ashley Reeves as the new head coach of Skyhawks softball Wednesday.
Reeves, a former standout player at Texas Tech, spent seven seasons as an assistant coach at Abilene Christian University in Texas. Abilene Christian made a transition to Division I in 2014.
“I’m excited to get this program going,” Reeves said in a phone interview with The Durango Herald. “I got to meet all the girls, and I’m just ready to get back with them and get going. It’s going to be a bit different coming in mid-year, but I’m looking forward to the transition and getting them coached up.”
Reeves was named the associate head coach at Abilene Christian ahead of the 2017 season. During the last three seasons, the Wildcats had an overall record of 69-79 and 41-40 in the Southland Conference. Now, Reeves will make a return to Division II and look to lead a struggling FLC program back to relevancy in the Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference.
“It is a tremendous day for Skyhawks athletics to welcome Ashley Reeves as our new head softball coach,” Leimbach said in a news release. “As an accomplished player and coach, she will be a great role model for our women both on and off the field. I can’t wait for her to get started and put her vision for success into action.”
Prior to a move to Division I, Abilene Christian had success in Division II’s Lone Star Conference. The team’s head coach was Reeves’ father-in-law Bobby Reeves, who also was her head coach at Texas Tech. He led Abilene Christian for nine seasons before he stepped down after last season.
“I learned a lot from him,” Reeves said of her father-in-law. “He was a great coach. ... Now, I am looking forward to making my own program.”
Reeves will take over a struggling FLC program that went 53-150 overall in the previous four seasons under Fracker. FLC has not made the RMAC tournament since 2014. The Skyhawks’ last winning season came in 2012 when FLC won the conference tournament and reached the NCAA Division II national tournament.
Reeves is the seventh head coach in FLC softball history dating back to 1984. FLC has only three winning seasons with two conference tournament wins and two national tournament appearances.
“I’m looking forward to getting them to the top of the conference and teaching them the game and getting them excited to play and compete and go for a conference championship,” Reeves said. “That’s everyone’s goal, and Durango is a place we can recruit. If we get good kids in there, we will have a chance to compete for a conference championship.”
With Reeves’ strong ties to Texas, she will look to recruit girls from her home state.
“If we get Texas kids up there on that field with the wow factor, the campus and the college will sell itself,” she said. “I’m looking forward to coming back down here to Texas and getting kids. I want those Division I kids who maybe would sit the bench at D-I but will come in and be able to play at the D-II level right away and compete. I want the kids with that talent and the drive to compete.”
Finding pitching will be key for Reeves. The Skyhawks have struggled inside the circle for years, and Reeves knows a dominant pitcher can immediately mend a struggling program.
“It’s the most important position at any level,” Reeves said. “We have to have somebody in the circle who is going to be able to throw any game you need her. It’s the No. 1 key factory, and I’m going to go in and recruit someone who can hold their own and want to be in the circle. Hopefully, I can find somebody in the program that has the want to and the drive.”
FLC was a tough program to lead during Fracker’s years. From 2017-18, the majority of the Skyhawks’ home games were played across the New Mexico border in Aztec while the FLC home Aspen Field was under renovation.
In 2019, when FLC went 16-37 overall and 11-29 in RMAC play, FLC had a four-game home series with Colorado Mesa moved to Grand Junction because of snow. Weather also forced FLC to play a home series with Black Hills State in Alamosa, and the Skyhawks had two games against Colorado School of Mines and University of Colorado at Colorado Springs moved to Aztec. In all, FLC played only 10 games at home last year even after the renovation project had been completed.
Reeves’ own playing days will be an example her FLC players can look toward. She was a standout at Texas Tech from 2004-07. She was a two-time All Big 12 first-team selection and was named to the second team once. In 2007, she was named offensive player of the year and was an NFCA all-region player.
Reeves used her speed in the outfield to shine defensively, and, in 2006, she set the Texas Tech single-season record with 34 stolen bases, which was the third most in the nation that season. That year, she was named the Texas Tech MVP.
“I love being able to take 60 feet every chance we can get,” Reeves said. “Putting pressure on the defense makes them make mistakes. I want to get some speed on the team and put pressure and score runs.”
After college, Reeves coached at the high school level at Harding Academy in Arkansas. She was the head softball coach and also was an assistant on the basketball and volleyball coaching staffs
Reeves is a 2003 graduate of Lindale High School in Texas. She was a four-sport athlete in basketball, softball, track and field and volleyball. Reeves will come to Durango with her husband, Tanyon, and their three daughters Adelyn, Brynlee and Kayson.
FLC lost only one senior from last year’s squad in Angelique Elemen. She was quickly hired by Fracker to be an assistant coach and will remain on Reeves’ staff this upcoming season. Elemen is FLC’s career leader in several categories, including home runs, hits, doubles and runs batted in.
The Skyhawks will begin play Feb. 6 in a three-day tournament in St. George, Utah.
“I’m so excited to have my three girls see Durango,” Reeves said. “We’re really excited to get there. The transition is going to be fast, quick and crazy, but we are all looking forward to it.”