Friends and former teammates of Ashley Neufeld drew a heart in the infield dirt of a ball diamond in her hometown Wednesday — a tribute to the young woman known for her determined play and infectious, positive attitude.
Word of the impromptu memorial for the avid softballer spread quickly through Brandon, Man., via phone calls and text messages. Dozens of people showed up and some left flowers on second base.
“I don’t want to dwell on any negatives ’cause I don’t know anything negative about Ashley,” said Jim Nay, who coached Neufeld for six years.
“Just the positive things — the image she created, the (way) the young people would go to the ballpark to see Ashley, the way the young people’s faces would light up when Ashley was in the ballpark.”
Neufeld, 21, was one of three members of the women’s softball team at Dickinson State University who died earlier this week when their sport utility vehicle ended up submerged in a pond not far from the North Dakota school. The other two women — Kyrstin Gemar, 22, and Afton Williamson, 20 — were from California. The body of Neufeld’s dog was also found in the vehicle.
The university listed Gemar as a senior business major. Neufeld and Williamson were working on psychology degrees.