Ashton Jarrett knows plenty about being patient and paying her dues.

For two years she watched upperclassmen play ahead of her at second base for the College of Charleston softball team. She also switched from a lifetime of batting right-handed to become a lefty at the plate, a move made to take advantage of her speed.

Jarrett, who came up through the Hanahan recreation department, helped her high school team win a state softball championship several years ago.

Now the College of Charleston junior is the leading hitter for the Cougars, who had an 11-game winning streak snapped over the weekend at Georgia Southern.

“I use Ashton as an example quite a bit,” said Cougars coach Shelly Hoerner. “She was a big fish in high school. She was a non-starter for two years, but she continued to work and grow as a player.

“We talk a lot about roles, what our role is as a player and how the role benefits the team. Ashton has been a team player. She paid her dues for two years. I’m proud of her that she’s stayed the course and busted her butt to be a better player than when she came in.”

Jarrett said the switch to becoming a left-handed batter wasn’t easy, but it has paid off. She is batting .330 for the 28-16 Cougars.

“If I can get it on the ground, I can get on base. It’s a big threat if I can do it right, slap and run,” Jarrett said.

In addition to being the Cougars’ leading hitter, Jarrett also is second on the team with 10 steals and her speed also has been an asset defensively.

“She’s gotten better defensively every single year,” Hoerner said, “but she really stepped it up this summer. She’s worked very hard and her hitting has improved a ton. It was a big change for her going from right-handed to left-handed. That’s very difficult at the college level because your muscle memory is all right-handed.”

Jarrett, 20, is majoring in sociology and secondary education. She said she selected the College of Charleston because it allows her parents, Wayne and Barbara Jarrett, to watch her play. Her father coached her through rec leagues and high school.

“College is definitely a lot more work than anything I’ve been involved in,” Jarrett said. “In high school ball, you went off your natural ability. Here, it’s 24-7. We condition, lift weights. It’s a lot of work, but I’m enjoying it.”

Hoerner said the Cougars are playing well after a rocky start. The team’s pitching has been outstanding. Junior Stephanie Saylors and freshman Hope Klicker are ranked Nos. 1 and 4 in the league and both have perfect games this year.