Ashley Czechner went 12-3 with a 1.74 earned run average last spring as a softball pitcher for Maryland. This school year she's at Chattanooga State, and Wednesday she signed scholarship papers to remain a Tiger but back in NCAA Division I at Louisiana State.
Once she decided to leave Maryland, Czechner didn't want to sit out a year with an immediate transfer to another Division I school. The 5-foot-10 right-hander wanted to keep pitching in junior college, and Megan Matthews, her former pitching coach at her South Carolina high school, recommended national power Chattanooga State and coach Beth Keylon-Randolph, who had been Matthews' pitching coach at South Carolina.
"I visited here probably in early July and met Coach Randolph and some of the players," Czechner said Saturday. "It was the only place I visited.
"Chattanooga the city is so nice, and this actually is a pretty good school. I'm a biology major, and it's pretty challenging. And I love the girls on the team."
She was somewhat recruited in high school by South Carolina but no other Southeastern Conference schools. She mostly had Atlantic Coast Conference, Big East and even Pac-10 (now Pac-12) interest. But one coach recruiting her then was Beth Torina, then at Florida International and now at LSU.
Mississippi State and Ole Miss also came after her, among others, once she wound up in Chattanooga.
"As soon as I heard LSU was interested, that's where I wanted to go," said Czechner, who visited the Baton Rouge campus the weekend LSU played Auburn in football.
"It's all about timing and different connections you have."
LSU happened to watch Czechner pitch and hit well in a fall exhibition win over the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga.
Keylon-Randolph emphasized that she has four other quality pitchers besides Czechner for the 2012 season but she's delighted to have the former Terrapin.
"She has amazing movement on her pitches," Keylon-Randolph said. "She throws hard but it's not like 65 [mph] - it's in the low 60s - but she has a true backspin riseball. Very few have that."