From many, there will be one. And while there’s still too early to speculate whether contending athletes will win their own state at this point in the season, a number of elite performers are making a case for Gatorade National Softball Player of the Year consideration. Here’s the scoop on the latest top candidate.
Avon Grove (Pennsylvania)
Greatness Present: The final season of Balint’s brilliant career began in surprising fashion—with a loss, albeit not of her doing.
Since that 4-1 defeat, in which FloSoftball’s No. 4 ranked senior struck out 12, allowed just one hit and one walk, but was bitten by four errors, things have returned to normal.
Playing on a young Red Devils squad with no other seniors, Balint, whose online highlight reel shows off her explosive stuff and power training regime, won her next six starts, including four shutouts and her first no-hitter of the season. She owns a 0.32 ERA with 91 strikeouts in 44 innings, having scattered nine hits.
The season highlight to date came against hard-hitting Coatesville, a 7-1 squad averaging 12.3 runs per game. The hard-throwing right-hander tossed a one-hitter and recorded 16 strikeouts, crossing the 1,000 career strikeout barrier—an eye-popping feat given the relatively short Pennsylvania season.
Balint also homered in that game and leads Avon Grove in most offensive categories, batting .583 with two home runs and 10 runs scored.
Greatness Past: Balint has twice earned the state’s Gatorade Player of the Year Award, posting a 19-5 record in 2015 with a 0.56 ERA and 303 Ks in 162.2 innings. She also had a brilliant club season this past summer, leading Chaos Gold to fifth place at the ASA Nationals. She has a career ERA of 0.57 in high school and a career club ERA of just 0.89.
Greatness Future: Balint verbally committed to Delaware early in her high school career, but she decommitted as a junior and has since signed with national power Oregon.
Make no mistake: The Gatorade State Softball Player of the Year races are far from over, and the National POY race just beginning to heat up. Time remains for one standout student-athlete among thousands to rise to the top of our list. Check back for regular updates on the top contenders making their case.