Happy Halloween Express fans! If I were to dress up in costume today, I would definitely trick or treat as Express Alum Zach Ashford! Ashford made some great plays through the years in Eau Claire and happens to be the subject of our Alumni Update today presented by Lakeland University.
Ashford was a two-year Express player from Clovis, California, playing during the 2016 and 2017 seasons. Ashford helped return the Express to the playoffs in his first summer in Eau Claire, ending a drought that had lasted four seasons. In 57 appearances in 2016, Ashford hit for .327, the second-best batting average on the team, tagging on 6 doubles and driving in 26 RBIs.
In 2017 Ashford continued his rise with the Express, returning once again to the Northwoods League playoffs and earning a Major League Dreams Showcase invitation. Additionally, Ashford was awarded a ‘Finest in the Field’ award, alongside Express teammate Justin Evans, establishing a 1.000% fielding percentage throughout the season. Ashford completed the season with .301 batting average, with 69 hits, 14 doubles, and 39 RBIs.
Memorably, Ashford received national recognition for his defensive efforts against the La Crosse Loggers with an outstanding catch, making Sports Center’s ‘Top 10 Plays’ segment.
Playing collegiately for the Fresno State Bulldogs, Ashford wrapped up his career in 2019 as a senior, compiling 214 appearances, 10th-most in program history, held a career .347 average, tallied 245 career hits, ninth-most hits in a career, holds the six-most triples in Bulldog program history with 11, and was ultimately drafted by the New York Mets in the sixth round of the 2019 MLB draft.
Ashford enjoyed a successful 2019 summer in the Mets farm system, rising from Class A short season ball with the Brooklyn Cyclones to Class A Advanced with the St. Lucie Mets to finish the year. Though his time with St. Lucie was limited, Ashford compiled a team-leading .353 batting average with the ball club.
Keep a lookout all off-season for more alumni updates presented by Lakeland University. At Lakeland University you’ll find unique 14-week BlendEd courses that allow you to complete coursework either online or in class from week to week depending on your location, schedule, and other life commitments allowing you to choose the format that works best for you.
The Eau Claire Express are a member of the finest developmental league for elite college baseball players, the Northwoods League. The 25-year old summer collegiate league is the largest organized baseball league in the world with 22 teams, drawing significantly more fans, in a friendly ballpark experience, than any league of its kind. A valuable training ground for coaches, umpires and front office staff, over 200 former Northwoods League players have advanced to Major League Baseball, including three-time Cy Young Award winner Max Scherzer (WAS), two-time World Series Champions Ben Zobrist (CHC) and Brandon Crawford (SFG) and MLB All-Stars Chris Sale (BOS), Jordan Zimmermann (DET) and Curtis Granderson (MIA). All league games are viewable live via the Northwoods League portal. For more information, visit www.eauclaireexpress.com or download the new Northwoods League Mobile App on the Apple App Store or on Google Play and set the Express as your favorite team.