NEWARK, NJ - If the stats are correct, Ashli hits a homer 50% of the time she connects with the ball, with a total of 42 runs in her high school career. That's a whole lot of hits for a catcher.
East Brunswick Bears catcher Ashli Venokur was awarded the first Anthony LaRezza NJ Pride Super 36 MVP Award in the fifth New Jersey North-South Senior Softball All-Star Game Monday night following an amazing 3-run homer during the eighth inning, giving South a 4-1 victory over North. (The award was re-named for former Immaculate Heart Academy coach Anthony LaRezza, who passed as a result of tongue cancer in February at age 50.)
Venokur, who was recently named All-Conference GMC Champion and Softball Catcher of the year, is well-known for her humility and good sportswomanship. According to Steve Tober of Sideline Chatter who interviewed Venokur following the championship game, "While her grandfather was watching from the third base line along with several area coaches and other ardent softball observers, Venokur hit a pitch from Butler’s Kentucky-bound all-state hurler Larissa Spellman high and far, well over the left field fence with two on and one out in the eighth.
When told after the game that her grandpa had told those around him after the homer that she was the ‘Catcher of the Year’ in the Greater Middlesex Conference, the modest Venokur responded with a smile, “Don’t listen to what he says, I’m just out there doing my job and whatever I can do to help my team win.
'It’s just tremendous to be out there on the field with so many terrific players from around the state and to do something to help the South win is enough for me.'” (For full coverage of the game, read Tober's article from Sideline Chatter.)
Tober credits Venokur with giving steam to both the hitting and catching that moved South forward for the win: "It was the Bloomsburg University-bound Venokur, a catcher from East Brunswick, who supplied both the offensive and defensive plays to spark the South to a 4-1 win over the North as she blasted a towering 3-run home run in the top of the eighth inning and also threw out two North runners on the base paths to put an exclamation point on the quick-moving, well-pitched all-star contest."