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Softball finds burst of speed on loan from soccer roster

Sometimes a man's gotta do what a man's gotta do, no matter how undignified.

By ANTONYA ENGLISH
Published February 8, 2007


GAINESVILLE - Sometimes a man's gotta do what a man's gotta do, no matter how undignified.

Which is why Tim Walton has no shame about going around asking to borrow players from teams that are in their offseason. Walton scoured other programs in search of a pure speedster to run the bases.

The Florida softball coach's search led him to soccer coach Becky Burleigh.

"Hey, Becky, you got anybody on your team that can run fast?" he asked. She did.

And just like that, junior defender Ashley Harris became Ashley Harris the softball baserunner/stealer.

"We're real thin this year and we needed somebody to come out and run bases," Walton said. "Becky said, 'I've got the perfect person for you.' Ashley ran track her freshman year; she lettered in track. Coach Tom Jones said she's the fastest kid on campus from 0-40 yards. She's unbelievably fast."

Walton approached Harris with the idea and she agreed. These days she goes to softball practice for about 20 minutes before she heads over to soccer conditioning drills.

"She comes out and runs bases, scores runs," Walton said. "I try not to have her think too much."

By the numbers

2: Home runs senior Matt LaPorta needs to become the all-time home run hitter in school history (56), surpassing Brad Wilkerson.

3: Top-ranked teams currently in the athletic program: men's basketball, gymnastics and men's golf.

5: Chances remaining for the women's basketball team to earn a regular-season conference win.

13: Opponents out of 18 for the men's tennis team that appeared in the 2006 NCAA Tournament.

34: SEC championships for the men's swimming and diving team if it earns a victory this weekend in Lexington, Ky.

42: Home winning streak the LSU women's basketball team puts on the line when the Gators travel to Baton Rouge tonight.

Antonya English can be reached at english@sptimes.com Check out her blog at blogs.tampabay.com/gators/.