The message surprised her – and her reaction to it surprised me.
“I was in the car and I actually got an email and it popped up on my watch,” said Lexi Kilfoyl.
She could not believe her eyes.
“I saw it and it said, ‘Congratulations! You are named Florida’s Gatorade Player of the Year,’ and I like, at first I was like, ‘Wait a minute!’ So I opened it on my phone and I like read it completely.”
Her eyes did not deceive her.
“I went into tears because I did not think it was possible,” admitted Kilfoyl.
Kilfoyl is an 18-year-old softball player who recently graduated from Academy at the Lakes in Land O’ Lakes. She finished her senior season on the mound with a 14-1 record and a .48 ERA. She sent 134 batters to the bench after fooling them at the plate and she did it in only 73 innings.
The 18-year-old dominated when she had the bat in her hands too. She batted .563 with 12 home runs and 37 RBIs. She also led her high school team to a state championship.
If you are wondering why in the world the honor – the 2018-2019 Gatorade Florida Softball Player of the Year – surprised her, you would not be alone with that question. I had it too.
“I did not think it was possible,” she said. “After the injury and being held back for a month so it felt really good.”
Kilfoyl dealt with a lingering trapezius strain. She said she noticed a pinching feeling in her neck and it took her roughly one month to recover from it.
“I have come very far since then and I feel so much better now,” said Kilfoyl when asked about the injury.
The Gatorade Florida honor “recognizes not only outstanding athletic excellence, but also high standards of academic achievement and exemplary character demonstrated on and off the field.” It “distinguishes Kilfoyl as Florida’s best high school softball player.”
This is the second year in a row it has been awarded to Kilfoyl.
She says, as soon as she regained her composure in her car, she made a phone call.
“I immediately called my mom and she started crying and it was so sweet,” said Kilfoyl.
Although I only had the chance to chat with Kilfoyl for less than an hour, I could quickly tell how important her family is to her. She confessed that she wanted to quit softball when she was younger but changed her mind when her dad made an appealing offer.
“When I was little, I was a big girly girl so I did gymnastics, I danced, I did soccer. I did not like getting dirty at all. So when I first started softball, I did not like it at all,” said Kilfoyl. “So my dad, I told him that I wanted to quit and he actually asked, if he were to coach, if I would play another year. So of course, I said, ‘Yes!’ and ended up playing and here I am today. So if it was not for that, it is crazy to think that I could be somewhere else playing a different sport.”
A portion of her current softball training consists of early morning workouts with her brothers in their garage.
“Monday, Wednesday and Friday at 6 a.m. I actually have a trainer come to the house,” said Kilfoyl.
She plans to continue her softball career at the University of Alabama in the fall.
“Right when I stepped on campus, it was just beautiful,” recalled Kilfoyl. “The weather was nice, a little bit away from Florida, which I like. Not too far not too close. So I like that and the coaches were dedicated and their whole aspect on everything was family, family first.”
You heard her: “Family, family first.”
The award also allows Kilfoyl to donate $1,000 to any youth sports organization. She told me she would like to give that money to Buddy Baseball, the same organization that received a $1,000 donation from her after she won the award the first time.