Ashley Patton at an AFL Academy Girls training session in January 2024 and inset, playing baseball for Australia in 2023. Pictures: AFL Photos/Brendon Beacom - ACT Rebels Baseball Club

SEVEN months ago, Ashley Patton was lining up on the mound in Ontario, making her national debut as pitcher in the Women's Baseball World Cup.

Then just 16 years old, her stint in that world cup was impressive, earning her attention on Major League Baseball's digital platforms as Australia finished the event in fourth place.

But now, in her AFLW draft year, her attention is firmly focused on footy.

Despite missing a large portion of the 2023 U18 Championships due to her baseball commitments, she was the only Canberran selected for the Marsh AFLW Academy this year.

"The sports are so different, so it's not like we're training for the same thing," Patton told

"It was pretty tough, obviously coming back from the World Cup and then two weeks later playing in the Futures game. I just felt so out of it because I was so used to playing baseball every day and doing specific stuff for baseball, and then coming back to footy was a big shift."

Quietly spoken, Patton admits that keeping communication open with her footy coaches and teammates was important while her focus was on baseball last year.

Ensuring she advocated for herself, and that they remained aware of her desire to pursue both sports at the top level was critical.

"Last year led to a lot of amazing opportunities, but it also shut down a few other opportunities, so this year it's all about footy," Patton said.

"I just really needed to reiterate that I'm all in for it, I really want to get drafted this year, and I was just reassuring everyone that I am really serious about this."

Ashley Patton in action during the AFL Academy Girls training session on January 19, 2024. Picture: AFL Photos

Preferring to play as a forward, Patton acknowledges the amount of elite midfield talent this year's Academy intake boasts, and is looking forward to getting on the end of some of their inside 50 entries.

"I don't really get to see Melbourne talent a lot… so to see the talent and the level they play at, it was a big shock but really good," Patton said.

But for the Canberran, being included in such a group was both a surprise and an honour.

"Getting the call, it was a really big shock, actually," Patton said.

"My Futures game wasn't great, especially my preparation leading into it because of baseball… I definitely wasn't expecting it, but I am so grateful to have this opportunity."

Ashley Patton gets a handball away during an AFL Academy Girls training session on January 19, 2024. Picture: AFL Photos

Between experiencing elite sport across two codes, Patton still enjoys playing community baseball on a team with her dad.

Family, and a want to be close to it, is what drove Patton to baseball in the first place, so continuing to play alongside her dad is important to the teenager even after a World Cup appearance and footy commitments.

It also helps that Patton, a pitcher, arguably holds the control over her dad, an outfielder, out on the diamond.

"It's quite a male-dominated sport, but I'm really grateful that I get to play with my dad," Patton said.

"My uncle was actually from Canada and he's the one that got me into baseball. My brother started to play, and I got jealous because he was spending more time with my uncle, so I was like 'I want to play too'."

Mature for her 17 years, Patton is making sure she doesn't make everything about sport. A passionate cook, she's looking toward applying to culinary school or a cooking apprenticeship at the end of the year.

"Cooking is like therapy to me," Patton said, her eyes lighting up.

"I think you can feel a lot more creative when it comes to savoury food more than sweet… I cook quite a lot for my family and my favourite thing to cook is steak. My favourite thing to eat is probably pasta."

Amidst her sporting related goals, Patton still has personal achievements that are just as important to her.

"Going to culinary school would be so cool, and travelling abroad is a big goal of mine… I want to go to France because their food is so iconic," Patton said.

Whether its baseball, cooking or AFLW, there's no doubt there are plenty of big experiences on the horizon for Patton.