For many senior Escambia, Santa Rosa and Okaloosa County athletes who hit the softball and baseball fields at Pensacola State College on Thursday night, it was one final chance to share their passion with their peers.
For others, the 2022 Pensacola Sports High School All-Star games served as another opportunity to showcase their skills to future coaches, their families and fans.
It was East (Santa Rosa/Okaloosa) versus West (Escambia) in both baseball and softball. With representation for each school in the three counties, each roster was comprised of 23 of the top senior high school players.
In softball action, the East got out to a big lead before holding off the West 15-10 in six innings.
Jay senior Alayna Lowery captured the MVP honors for her side, which was just icing on the cake of a dream season and prep career. As part of the Royals’ dynamic senior duo with Mattie Cochran, she is just a week removed from helping her program capture its first-ever Class 1A state title.
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With the West short on pitchers, Lowery even jumped in and pitched a few innings for the opposition. She now will look to the future, which will be close by. The Jay star will play at the University of West Florida.
“This is pretty cool. We’ve had a lot going on the last couple of weeks with winning state,” Lowery said. “I’ve been kind of taking a break, Mattie and I both. And then we just got out here and ready to play with some of the people we’ve grown up with. It was really important to me to be able to finish my last game with them.”
It was especially gratifying to join her teammate and friend Cochran for one last high school hurrah, in a fun and competitive atmosphere.
“The state title was probably the best thing that I’ve ever felt, in probably my life,” Lowery said. “So it was a great feeling to be able to do that, and then come back out here and play another game with my teammate Mattie on the same team before we go to college. It’s a great feeling to come out here and finish my high school career with another win.”
Although her all-star squad came up just short in the win column Thursday, East MVP Payton Gilchrist of Northview High was all smiles after a fun ending to her high school career. She’s taking her backstop and infield skills to Huntingdon College in Montgomery, Ala..
In a game meant to celebrate the seniors, Gilchrist definitely kept a positive tone after the loss.
“We were down, but we were hitting the ball, so I feel like everybody was having fun—that’s really all that matters,” said Gilchrist, who helped lead Northview to a solid district runner-up finish this season. She said she’ll miss the closeness she shared with high school teammates the most, but is looking to bond with her new ones in college. “I think everybody did great and enjoyed being out here.”
The guys played nine innings over on the PSC baseball diamond, with the West pulling away late for a 14-7 victory.
The game was tied 6-6 through five innings, before the East pulled ahead for good with a four-run sixth.
After clubbing a homerun and a double to finish 2-for-3 at the plate, Pace’s Brock Parmer was named the MVP for the winning squad. He hopes to hit a few more long balls over the fence at Gulf Coast State College in Panama City next season.
“Being competitive, it’s always fun to win, so I absolutely loved doing that,” said Parmer, who helped the Patriots to a Class 6A state runner-up finish this season. “It’s fun, just going out there with my teammates again and guys we competed against all year. We actually enjoyed being around them, instead of just barking at each other.
“I mean, you’ve got guys like from Tate on that team, guys you don’t like all year,” he said. “It was a fun game, but it’s always nice to beat those guys, and all those guys at Catholic, so it’s always nice to beat them. It doesn’t matter the situation.”
He has some words of advice for up and coming athletes.
“Just savor the moment; it goes by a lot faster than you think,” Parmer said. “And keep a level head; don’t get too high, or too low. There’s so many moments this year it felt like we were at rock bottom, and then we’d make a run for it. We had the team for it, that’s baseball. It doesn’t feel like it sometimes.”
West MVP Josiah Glodfelter, of Tate, got an introduction to familiar grounds Thursday night. He’s set to be a Pensacola State Pirate next season.
“This is pretty special to me, to finish my last high school game with this (award),” Glodfelter said.
Originally signing with UWF, Glodfelter will still remain close to home at PSC was an easy decision. “My goal is to try to get drafted out of college. Tonight was very fun.”
Pensacola Sports also presented awards to those with the top GPA from each squad, as well as the top community service hours earners.
Ahlexus Lackey, Milton – 3.96
Broc Parmer, Pace – 3.95
Courtney Lundquist, Tate – 3.7
Josiah Glodfelter, Tate – 3.87
East Community Service
Brock Parmer, Pace – 95 hours
Rowan Franklin, Choctaw – 138 hours
West Community Service
Ella Little-Anoa’i, Pensacola Catholic – 198 hours
Dreyeton Cunningham, Pensacola Catholic – 164 hours