Memphis vs. St. John's at the Chevron Spring Fling Tournament in Hawai'i on March 12, 2009.
"Ashley is one of the most complete players I have ever coached," Thees said. "She is a very driven and competitive person who matches what we hope to accomplish here at Memphis."
Blanton has worked tirelessly on improving the fielding of the infield and increasing the team's offensive production. In 2009, the Tigers set a new season best with 21 double plays turned, an increase of eight from the previous season. Memphis set a new record for home runs in 2008 with 48, which was the third highest total in Conference USA.
In 2007, the Tigers improved their fielding percentage by 12 points, rising from a .951 percentage in 2006 to a .963. The Memphis power numbers also increased as home runs rose by 42 percent. The U of M belted 47 dingers in 2007 as compared to 33 in 2006.
Blanton came to Memphis after a season as a graduate assistant coach at the University of Tennessee at Martin. Before coaching for the Skyhawks, the High Springs, Fla., native served as an assistant coach with Mars Hills College in North Carolina. At MHC she helped the Lions increase their win total by 13 games in the 2005 season and improve in almost every statistical category.
As a player, Blanton started every game at second base during her one year with Thees at GCSU in 2004. She finished the season hitting .264 with six home runs, 38 hits, 15 RBI and a .969 fielding percentage, while leading the Bobcats to a 33-18 overall record.
Blanton began her collegiate career at Santa Fe Community College in Gainesville, Fla., where she played both basketball and softball from 1999-2001. With the Saints, Blanton earned All-Mid-Florida Conference second team honors in 2001. She was also named to the All-State Junior College Academic Team and to the MFC All Academic Team in 2000 and 2001.
After Santa Fe CC, Blanton spent two years at North Georgia College and State University in Dahlonega. At NGCSU, she was a two-year starter and helped lead the Saints to two Georgia-Alabama-Carolina Conference championships in 2002 and 2003. Her 2003 team finished 50-8 with a perfect 20-0 conference record after finishing 39-6 and 16-4 in 2002.
Blanton received her bachelor's degree in business administration from Georgia College & State University in 2004.