Ava Fugate Signs With Colorado Mesa Softball


BEARCATS: Fugate Joins a Mavericks Team That Has Four-Straight NCAA Tournament Appearances

Ava Fugate knew she wanted to begin her life as an adult and start college somewhere beyond the borders of Washington state. She knew softball would be the vehicle to carry her there, she just didn’t know where it would take her.

“That was, like, my goal from I can’t even remember how long ago,” Fugate said. “I wanted to do something different, go somewhere different from Washington because I’ve lived here my whole life. It’s time for me to get out and experience something else.”

Fugate, a 2020 graduate of W.F. West High School and a four-year varsity softball player, went to a few camps across the country during summer 2019 before discovering Colorado Mesa University in Grand Junction, Colorado. Fugate saw its softball program had a history of winning and emailed the coaches to set up a visit during a two-day camp from Aug. 1-2, 2019. She took a tour of the school, checked out the Mavericks’ 600-capacity softball field and their other athletic facilities and talked with the coaches afterwards. She left campus feeling like this could be her new home.

Turns out, it would be.

The Mavericks’ second-year coach Erik Kozel offered her a scholarship just four days later and Fugate, who had two other schools she was seriously considering at the time, mulled the decision over with her parents, Jason and Rebecca.

“Should we take it, should we wait to see if there are other schools?” Fugate said. “But I just felt it was the right place for me so we took it the following day. Just the way they played was a team that I wanted to play on.”

Fugate, who’s been playing softball nearly all her life, joined her first travel team in third or fourth grade. She started her freshman year on junior varsity before being called up to varsity halfway through the year.

She had a breakout season as a sophomore after moving from a starter in the outfield to take over the starting spot at third base. Fugate finished the season with a .431 batting average while tallying 32 runs, 31 hits, 27 RBIs and four home runs in 20 games.

She was the Bearcats’ leadoff hitter as a junior the following year in 2019, batting .397 with a .795 slugging percentage, a .461 on-base percentage, 21 RBIs, and seven home runs. She was named to the 2A Evergreen Conference first team and the Washington State Softball Coaches Association All-State second team.

“Ava was a selfless athlete who was always willing to do what was needed for the best of the team, even when it wasn’t easy, familiar or comfortable,” W.F. West softball coach Caty Lieseke said in an email. “Her persistence showed up off the field as well, (and) she spent endless hours in the gym making consistent, visible gains in her strength and agility. Even as a freshman I knew she would find her way on a college team and I’m excited for her future at Colorado Mesa.”

Fugate was not able to play travel ball this summer with her team, Washington Acers Fastpitch, based out of Auburn, after all its tournaments this summer were canceled. The last time she played a competitive game was in November 2019 during a California tourney with the Acers.

Now she’s looking forward to getting out of Washington, shedding the rust and experiencing a new beginning at Colorado Mesa.

“It’s going to be a high level of competition, so I’m excited to challenge myself and compete with the others, but also learn from them to become a better ballplayer,” Fugate said.

Colorado Mesa University is in Grand Junction, a city of about 65,000, located in Colorado’s Western Slope region 240 miles east of Denver.

The Mavericks are one of the top Division II programs in the southwest and compete in the Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference (RMAC). They went 17-8, 11-4 during the 2020 spring season, finishing third out of 13 teams in conference before the season was canceled in mid-March due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

They were 45-11 in 2019 while winning their fourth consecutive RMAC championship and qualifying for their fourth-straight NCAA Tournament. They’ve won five of the last six RMAC titles. They also led Division II in scoring for the second consecutive season in 2019, according to the University, putting up nearly eight runs per game and were among the nation’s top 10 in six different statistical categories.

Fugate plans to major in business then attend law school.

“Just seeing the environment, seeing the town, it seems like a very active town with hikes and all that type of stuff, which I love, so I think it will be fun and exciting,” Fugate said.