Player of the Year: Morgan Tolle, Jr., River Ridge
Why we picked her: Tolle was the most accomplished hitter on one of Tampa Bay’s top teams. “She was hot all season,” teammate Makenzie Goluba said. “Her bat never stopped.” Tolle led the Royal Knights with a .558 average and the North Suncoast with nine home runs and 48 RBIs. She was also the Sunshine Athletic Conference’s player of the year. “I was not expecting to have a great year like that,” Tolle said.
Most impressive accomplishment: Tolle had one of the season’s highlights in a close game against a strong Hernando team. Her home run was the only run scored in a 1-0 victory in the Leopards’ spring tournament. In two playoff wins, the second baseman was 5-for-7 with two home runs and four RBIs.
Future plans: Tolle was the Knights’ lone junior and will be expected to lead a loaded River Ridge team again. She’s already orally committed to James Madison after a visit in the fall. “I just felt like I belonged there,” Tolle said. She plans to major in pre-med with hopes of becoming a dermatologist.
Did you know? Tolle grew up playing little league with River Ridge teammate Kenzi Maguire — and against some future teammates. Her team had a long rivalry with the team of Goluba and Madisyn Palmer, a Knights outfielder. “Now we’re all really good friends,” Tolle said. “We hated each other. We were rivals back then.”
Pitcher of the Year: Makenzie Goluba, So., River Ridge
Why we picked her: Goluba was the ace of a team that lost only twice — to Plant by one run, and to Lakewood Ranch in the Class 6A region final. Her statistics back up her dominance: Goluba had an area-low 0.54 ERA with 146 strikeouts in 157 innings. “It got to the point where you score two or three runs, you knew the game was probably well in hand. …” coach Ernie Beck said. Her 12 shutouts included a three-hitter against rival Mitchell in the region semifinal.
Most impressive accomplishment: Goluba didn’t allow a run in her team’s first five games of the season, and she carried a no-hitter into the seventh inning in a 1-0 win over Hernando. “That was a great game,” Goluba said. She also batted .483 with 39 RBIs and had the Knights’ biggest hit of the season — a two-run single to give her team a 4-3 win over Mitchell for the Class 6A, District 10 title.
Future plans: Goluba thinks this summer will be key for her recruitment. She plans to play at many showcases with her travel softball team with the hopes of landing a Division-I scholarship. She is considering studying law in college.
Did you know? Goluba spends most of her free time playing softball but also loves to dance. “Anything that’s a high beat,” Goluba said. “Even lyrical dancing.” Her teammates are still trying to convince her to start taking dance lessons.
P Courtney Riddle, Jr., Hernando: Leopards’ ace was Hernando County’s top player (1.41 ERA) and the area’s leader with 177 strikeouts for 5A region finalists.
P Madison Morlan, Jr., Gulf: Her 1.16 ERA and 135 strikeouts took the Bucs to their first district title and the 5A region semifinals.
P Jill McElderry, Jr., Fivay: Led the North Suncoast with 226 strikeouts while posting a solid 1.56 ERA.
P Jordan Fowler, Jr., Mitchell: Averaged more than a strikeout per inning and pitched a four-hit shutout to lead the Mustangs to the 6A region semifinals.
C Megan Lane, So., Hernando: UCF commit batted .400 with 25 RBIs and threw out seven would-be stealers while stealing 44 bases herself.
INF Lauren Evans, Jr., Academy at the Lakes: USF commit was the North Suncoast’s batting champ (.610 average) with 12 extra-base hits in 41 at-bats. She led the Wildcats to the program’s first state semifinal.
INF Katie McCarthy, Sr., Central: Keyed the Bears’ best season in more than a decade with a .507 average, 31 RBIs and seven home runs.
INF Kenzi Maguire, So., River Ridge: Arkansas commit batted in 38 runs and hit .479 as part of a loaded Knights lineup.
INF Kassidy Neptune, Jr., Mitchell: Led the Mustangs with a .493 batting average and 26 RBIs.
OF Kelli Parker, Sr., Pasco: Took her Pirates to the 5A playoffs with a .500 average and three homers.
OF Ashley Sims, Sr., Hernando: Seminole State signee scored 39 runs and stole 32 bases while hitting .450 for district champs.
OF Madisyn Palmer, So., River Ridge: Led the Knights with 49 runs scored, and only Tolle had a better batting average than Palmer (.489).
DH Hailey Drawe, Sr., Springstead: Eagles’ top slugger batted .467 with three home runs and 19 RBIs.
UTIL Ashley McKay, Sr., Hernando Christian: Perhaps the North Suncoast’s top all-around player (137 strikeouts, .568 batting average, 24 RBIs) before a knee injury cut her season short.
P Sydney Boynton, Sr., Academy at the Lakes
P Kaeleen Koehler, Fr., Central
P Louisa Disi, So., Springstead
P Karisten Deem, Sr., Zephyrhills
C Nikki Sedivy, Jr., Gulf
INF Stephanie Frances, Sr., Sunlake
INF Jordan Lane, Sr., Pasco
INF Tori Jordan, Sr., Zephyrhills
INF Britney Pressler, Fr., Gulf
OF Skyler Boynton, So., Academy at the Lakes
OF Shailynn Morales, So., Wiregrass Ranch
OF Lindsey Hupp, So., Zephyrhills
DH Jada Power, Sr., River Ridge
UTIL Lizzy Burchfield, Sr., Pasco
Anclote: Samantha Ivory, Kourtney Gracie, Isabella Borges; Bishop McLaughlin: Leah Demarco, Destiny Aplin, Brooke Baptiste; Central: Alex Eisenhauer, Casey Vsetula; Fivay: Sara Hogan; Gulf: Hanna McCarthy, Tarra Rice, Rachel Gardner; Hernando: Tana McDaniel; Hernando Christian: Holly Field; Hudson: Sarah Brown, Kamber Dewitt; Land O’Lakes: Sierra Holt; Mitchell: Samantha Renzetti; Nature Coast: Chyloe Gonzalez, Dana Mackiewicz; Pasco: Hannah Johnson, Amber Caudill; Ridgewood: Ashley Panariello; River Ridge: Anessa Holes; Springstead: Brooke Fischbach; Sunlake: Cassidy Roberts, Danielle Micciche; Wesley Chapel: Ashley Butler; Wiregrass Ranch: Kaylee Barden; Zephyrhills: Marissa Gochenour, Jennifer Rennard
Coach of the Year
Kevin Bittinger, Hernando: Bittinger helped his young Leopards mature, improving from 14 wins last spring to become Class 5A, District 7 champions and playoff qualifiers for the first time in eight years. Hernando’s 22-win season included their first playoff victories since 2001 and a run to the region final.