On Tuesday, future Gator Ava Brown of Lake Creek High School in Montgomery, Texas, beat out nearly half a million other student-athletes who play softball nationwide to win 2022-23 Gatorade National Softball Player of the Year.
Brown, who signed a national letter of intent to play softball on scholarship at the University of Florida this fall, led her team to a second straight Class 5A championship by pitching a one-hitter in both title games.
She struck out 15 batters in this year’s state final.
The state’s returning Gatorade Player of the Year led the Lions to a 44-1 record by compiling a 27-0 record in the circle with a 0.53 ERA. She struck out 292 batters with only 30 walks in 172 innings pitched.
Brown averaged 1.7 strikeouts per inning as a senior and never lost a high school game against excellent competition in the Lone Star State.
At the plate, the 2023 MaxPreps First Team All-American batted .462 with nine home runs, 17 doubles, 65 RBI and a .888 slugging percentage. She concluded her prep softball career with an 81-0 record and 844 strikeouts in the circle.
“To win the Gatorade National Player of the Year means that all of the hard work and all of the dedication that I’ve given to this sport and to my dreams are finally coming true for me,” Brown said. “My goal since I started this sport was to play college softball and you see all of these awards being named as you grow through the sport and so this was definitely something that I added to my list and I’m just so grateful to be able to have accomplished it.”
Brown, who volunteered with her local chapter of the Fellowship of Christian Athletes and as a youth softball coach, also maintained a 3.55 in the classroom.
The 5-foot-7 senior right-handed pitcher and first baseman is ranked the nation’s No. 3 recruit in the Class of 2023 by Extra Inning Softball.
“Stats can sometimes be misleading, but in Ava Brown’s case, they accurately reflect an amazingly accomplished high school career, especially in 2023,” said Brentt Eads, president and executive editor of Extra Innings Softball. “She’s a hard-thrower who hits her spots and overpowers hitters while mixing speeds and displaying pin-point control. Also a dangerous hitter, she drove in 65 runs and slugged almost .900 this past season, and she elevates her game as the stakes get higher. She’s one of the most productive high school players of the past two decades.”
Brown, who admitted her fondness for the beach contributed to her decision to go to UF, thanked her family first and foremost.
“For the first time in my life I’m about to be living 14 hours away and they’ve pushed me to do that since day one because they know that was my dream and they know that Florida fits me and I fit Florida,” she said. “They could have very easily said, ‘no, we want you to stay here,’ but they didn’t. They told me, ‘if that’s your dream, go live your dream, go be happy where you feel happiest,’ and without that I don’t know that I’d be here today.”
The Gatorade Player of the Year award recognizes athletes not just for their excellence on the playing surface, but for their commitment in the classroom and impact in their community.
“We are recognizing Ava as the top high school softball player in the nation because of her dedication to excel as an athlete, a student and a leader within her community,” said Gatorade Portfolio president and general manager Michael Del Pozzo. “This award is about more than just on the field play, and we look forward to seeing what Ava continues to achieve on and off the field.”