We announce this week’s Extra Inning Softball National High School Player of the Week awards by honoring two of the top pitchers in the nation, both of whom have been rated as the #1 hurler in their classes with one going to the SEC and winning a state title this week and the other signed to go to a Big 12 powerhouse and getting her team to her state title championship which kicks off next Friday
If you'd like to nominate players for future consideration, email us at email@example.com.
We're looking for top performances in high school play each week that can be on a single game or cumulative week-by-week basis
Extra Inning Softball’s Co-National High School Player of the Week
Lexi Kilfoyl (Academy at the Lakes, Land O’Lakes, Florida )
Pitcher Alexis “Lexi” Kilfoyl, the Alabama-committed junior, has already tasted success on the international level as she was invited to be a member of the USA Softball Jr. National Team following her sophomore year, making her the youngest ever chosen for that team.
But this week, the 6-foot-2 pitcher made sure to create some high school memories she and her Wildcats’ teammates will never forget as she was the pitching AND hitting star Tuesday in Vero Beach in a thrilling 1-0 win over Aucilla Christian (Monticello, Florida) that took 11 innings to decide in the final of the Florida Class 2A State Championship.
In a rain-soaked final that had to be stopped six times to have the field manicured, Kilfoyl and opposing pitcher Elizabeth Hightower, a senior signed with Florida, went toe-to-toe in dominating opposing batters as each scattered four hits with Kilfoyl striking out 13 and allowing just one walk and Hightower recording 15 K’s while walking two.
Aucilla Christian threatened in the eighth when it put runners on first and second with two outs and a sharply hit ball looked to potentially end the game, but outstanding defensive shortstop Brooke Blankenship, a Florida State-commit, snared the ball in what Kilfoyl said “was really when my heart rate got started! That ball was a line drive to Brooke and it’s game over if it got past her.”
The two All-American candidates for the Wildcats were then instrumental offensively when, with two outs in the top of the 11th, Blankenship hit a flair that fell in for a single followed by Kilfoyl driving the ball to centerfield that had both sides holding their collective breaths.
“When I hit it, I didn’t expect much out of it,” the right-hander admitted. “I saw the centerfielder dive for it and it went past her and had just enough energy to allow Brooke to come all the way home from first.”
Aucilla Christian went down 1-2-3 in the bottom of the inning and Academy at the Lake celebrated its first-ever softball state championship.
When asked if she was more proud of her 11-inning pitching effort or the game-winning hit, the junior replied, “Definitely my pitching performance. I had a solid hit, but this was one of my best games ever pitched. We had scouted the batters, and I felt good about what I was throwing, which was a lot of fastballs.”
“I started further off the plate and when they would start swinging I then started using my drop ball and drop screw and also threw in a couple of change-ups.”
Interestingly, Kilfoyl said she was prepared for the rainy and sloppy conditions although she admitted the wet softballs likely impacted her and Hightower more, despite both hurlers’ dominate performances.
“We both are spin-heavy pitchers and it (the rain) does make it more difficult, but my pitching coach—Kaci Clark-Zerbe—sometimes gives me a ‘rain lesson’ where I have to throw in the rain to be prepared so I felt like I was ready.”
In the semi-final game Monday against Lake Worth Christian, Kilfoyl pitched a four-inning no-hitter as the Wildcats won 15-0 in a run-rule shortened win.
The junior hurler struck out 11 and walked two and again offensively was outstanding as she went 2-for-3 with a pair of RBI and a walk.
For the season, Kilfoyl finished with a 23-1 mark and a 0.32 ERA with 249 strikeouts against only 22 walks and just seven earned runs allowed all year in 154 innings. Impressively, she didn’t give up a home run against the 581 batters she faced and limited opponents to a .097 batting average.
At the plate, the future Alabama signee hit .482 with 35 RBI and five home runs and had a .585 on-base percentage.
Kilfoyl feels the state championship was won due to one major thing the Wildcats developed over the course of the year: trust in each other.
“Towards the beginning of the year, I don’t think we were as confident in ourselves,” she believes, “and we knew we had a lot to build up to, but through the season we learned to trust each other, and I felt confident with the defense behind me that if the opponent got the bat on the ball, they would be there for me and that helped us make it to the last game as we supported each other.”
Here's a nice video summary of the championship game done by Florida's Spectrum Sports 360:
Runner-Up National High School Player of the Week
Brooke Vestal (Canyon, New Braunfels, Texas)
Brooke Vestal, an All-American senior pitcher who has signed with Oklahoma, has come close to getting her Cougarettes to the promised land of the UIL state state finals the last two years, but each season fell just short.
However, Friday night at Southwest High in San Antonio, Vestal made sure Canyon would make it the state tournament as she pitched five innings of no-hit ball before turning it over to junior Aliyah Pritchett, a Baylor commit, who closed the door in the 2-0 win over Warren High before an estimated 1,500 people in attendance at the Region IV-6A final.
In her time in the circle, Vestal struck out six and gave up two walks, but both with two outs which led to no damage.
Canyon is now 28-1 and Vestal told the San Antonio Express News a key to her success was “Just letting go and not putting too much pressure on myself, knowing that no matter what my defense had my back,”
The senior also was the hitting star as she hit jumped on the first pitch in her fourth inning at-bat and crushed it over the right-field wall for the only run the Cougarettes would need.
Canyon is expected to be the top seed in the Final Four to be played at the Univ. of Texas field starting next Friday.
Previous Extra Inning Softball National High School Players of the Week
- May 20: P Ashley Rogers (Meigs County, Decatur, Tennessee)
- May 13 (tie): P Sydney Supple (Oshkosh North, Oshkosh, Wisconsin) /
- May 13 (tie): OF Lexi Voss (Marist, Chicago, Illinois)
- May 6: P Danielle Williams (Amador Valley, Pleasanton, California)
- April 29: P Montana Fouts (East Carter, Grayson, Kentucky)
- April 22: IF Kasey Simpson (Keller, Texas)
- April 15: SS Jayda Coleman (The Colony, Texas)
- April 8: P Megan Faraimo (Cathedral Catholic, San Diego, California)
- April 1: C Macy Simmons (Hamilton, Chandler, Arizona)
- March 25: C Paige Pfent (Springstead, Spring Hill, Florida)
- March 18: SS/OF Deja Westbrook (Arcadia, California)
- March 11: P Megan Faraimo (Cathedral Catholic, San Diego, California)