That’s the number of consecutive games that Akron Racers second baseman Ashley Thomas played in leading up to the season’s final game in which she sat out for the very first time in her professional career.
Since her professional debut back on May 29, 2014 vs. the Chicago Bandits, the three year veteran out of Georgia Tech hadn’t missed a single game. Not one injury or illness that she couldn’t play through. Not one absence due to personal or work-related commitments, which is uncommon in a league where players don’t earn enough to make a living.
“It means a lot. I am truly blessed,” Thomas said. “It’s also great to have an organization that is behind you so much and thinks that you can get the job done every single game. It’s an amazing feeling.”
Thomas was there for it all. Every pitch, every night for 152 straight game days.
However, Thomas doesn’t just show up— she produces. In her third professional season with the Racers, Thomas hit .306 with six home runs, 17 RBI and 26 runs scored. Over the course of the 2016 campaign, she squashed previous career-highs in a few categories as she tallied 14 extra-base hits and finished with a .5o3 slugging percentage. Her three triples on the year tied for a share of the league-lead.
It didn’t matter whether Thomas was hitting at the top of the lineup or near the bottom, she was going to step into the batter’s box and do whatever was necessary to help her team.
And team— well, that’s really what Ashley Thomas is all about.
Good luck finding a player in the NPF who is more selfless and more dedicated to her teammates than is Thomas. And that selfless, team-first attitude was in place from the very first time Thomas stepped out onto the dirt at Firestone Stadium.
Throughout her four-year career at Georgia Tech, Thomas planted herself at the shortstop position for the Yellow-Jackets and therefore, that is the spot that she lined up at on her first day of practice with her new team.
But for the Racers, shortstop wasn’t the position in which they had the biggest void. When Thomas took her place at shortstop, Racers general manager Joey Arrietta pulled the rookie to the side and asked her to make a position change to the right side of the infield.
“Honestly I was just excited to be out on the field. I didn’t really care where I was going to be,” Thomas said. “And obviously it worked out and I love second base. I could care less where I am on the field, I just love being out there.”
Thomas took it in stride and has become a sensational second baseman in her three years in the Rubber City. In her rookie season, Thomas was named to the 2014 All-NPF team as an at-large selection.
In 2016, Thomas has a résumé that will surely guarantee that she is highly-talked about in the 2016 All-NPF second baseman conversation.
Thomas spent a chunk of the season as the leadoff hitter for the Racers and posted a .344 average when leading off an inning. She also came up in clutch situations as she hit .300 with runners in scoring position.
Thomas has never let her success on the field get to her head though. Talk to Ashley and she is the sweetest professional athlete you will ever meet. Win or lose, Thomas wears a smile on her face and talks about her teammates more than herself. It’s a theme quite uncommon within the Racers organization.
“This is a great team. This is probably one of the best teams that I’ve been on,” Thomas said. “Everybody just meshes so well and you can see it out on the field too.”
Here’s to hoping that Thomas will get recognized on the All-NPF team for her second time in three years after another tremendous season for the Akron Racers.
“That would be pretty awesome,” Thomas said. “You know, awards and stuff are great, but honestly it will feel a lot better if we win the whole thing.”
Exactly the response one would expect from Ashley Thomas.