Ashlee Hein sorted through some papers searching for the Marysville High School softball career leaders list. She had been asked what categories she's listed in the top 10.

Ashlee Hein sorted through some papers searching for the Marysville High School softball career leaders list. She had been asked what categories she's listed in the top 10.

It was a time-consuming answer.

"Highest batting average, most home runs, most triples, most doubles, most games played, most base hits, most RBI," Hein said as her voice trailed off and was replaced with giggles. Her accomplishments, when seen in black and white, surprised even her.

Hein finished as one of the most productive players to wear the Monarchs uniform. In her senior season in 2007, Hein hit .432 with six home runs and 25 RBI. After graduating, she enrolled at Kent State last August and earned a spot on the softball team.

Until her sophomore season begins in August, Hein has returned to Marysville after a long, grueling, but exciting season as a member of the Mid-American Conference champion Golden Flashes.

"I'm just chilling," Hein said, once again flashing a smile. "I'm taking time off."

Hein started at catcher in 32 of Kent State's 58 games. She hit .175 with two home runs and 11 RBI in 80 at-bats, but defensively she was critical behind the plate. Hein was the personal catcher of Kent's ace, Gabe Burns, who was 20-6 with a team-best 1.29 ERA.

"I expected to play a little bit, but not as much as I did," Hein said. "Gabe was comfortable with me and it's hard for one catcher to catch every single game."

Kent State has become a perfect fit for Hein, something that was not the case when the school year began.

"When I first got to Kent, we started class the same time we started practicing," Hein said. "It was four-hour practices. I was so stressed out. I wanted to quit and come home."

Before doing that, Hein thought back on what her high school coach, Chris Shirer, taught her the four years she played for him.

"Because of him, I stayed," she said. "From past experiences I had with him the four years he was my coach, he made me stronger for situations like that."

Hein was lucky even to have those experiences.

Around mid-afternoon Tuesday, Sept. 16, 1997, Timothy Hein, 37, was driving southbound on Route 31 in his 1981 Chevrolet truck with his daughter, Ashlee, 8, and son, Matthew, 11. A Mack truck traveling northbound went left of center and collided with Hein's pickup.

"I don't remember much about the accident," Ashlee said. "I got knocked out. I remember little bits, but not very much."

Her father died later that day.

"I realized how easily life can be gone," she said.

Time has helped Ashlee, her brother and her mother, Brenda.

"We just deal with it," Hein said. "My mom raised us very well. She did everything in her power to raise us like a normal family. It was hard for her, but as we grew older we learned to deal with it better."

"It was harder when we were younger. We did not know what to say or do. Marysville is a small town so everyone knows you and knows what happened."

Almost 11 years later, Hein has realized that because she did not have her father around, she learned to be more independent and hard-working. It was those traits Hein relied on last August as she encountered her new and challenging schedule.

"Wake up, class, practice, eat and go to bed. That's my day," she said. "I'm pretty organized, though, and it was a lot about time management and getting stuff done, just being more responsible."

On the field, Hein has used those same traits to be successful. Early on in Kent State's practices, she caught the eye of her coaches.

"Ashlee has a great work ethic," said Amy Densevich, Kent State's pitching and catching coach. "She's passionate about the game and you can see that when she takes the field. She's a hard worker and I enjoyed working for her. I look for big things down the road from her."

To prepare for next season, Hein is limiting her softball playing as to not burn herself out on the game and rest her knees.

"I caught half of our games last season and I was beat," she said. "I haven't had any problems with my knees until this year. At the end of the season they were achy and worn out."

Hein is working out to stay in shape. When the team reconvenes in August, it will be bittersweet as all the players learned to love the senior class.

"It was very emotional," Hein said. "Our seniors were recall good leaders and we all bonded really well. That's why we were so successful."

Kent State finished 46-12 -- the most wins by a MAC team since league play began in 1983. For the first time, the Golden Flashes have won at least 30 games and the MAC East title the last three seasons.

Among those seniors was Burns. Dealing with the loss of those graduates will be of the utmost importance to Hein and her returning teammates.

"We just connected," she said. "I knew what Gabe wanted to throw and we learned a lot about each other. Hopefully, I'll be able to do that with someone else."