By Richard L. Gaw
On the high school playing fields of southern Chester County, it is often exceedingly rare to witness the talents of a high school athlete rise so far above those of his or her fellow athletes that it calls attention to itself.
Most of them are good. Some are very good. Throughout the 2014 season, Maggie Balint, a sophomore pitcher on the District 1 championship Avon Grove High School softball team, had enough accolades and positive adjectives tossed at her from teammates, opponnents and fans to last a lifetime. On June 5, on the same day she pitched for the Red Devils in the PIAA Class AAAA quarterfinals of the state tournament, she received an even higher recognition.
The Gatorade Company, in collaboration with USA Today High School Sports, named Balint as its 2013-14 Gatorade Pennsylvania Softball Player of the Year. The award, which recognizes not only outstanding athletic excellence, but also high standards of academic achievement and exemplary character demonstrated on and off the field, distinguishes Balint as Pennsylvania’s best high school softball player. Balint is now a finalist for the prestigious Gatorade National Softball Player of the Year award, which will be announced later this month.
The 5-foot-9 sophomore right-handed pitcher led the Red Devils to a 20-5 record and a berth in the Class AAAA state quarterfinals. In 24 games in the circle, she recorded a 20-4 record and 350 strikeouts in 165 and two-thirds innings pitched, highlighted by a perfect game she tossed against Central in the opening round of the PIAA Class AAAA playoffs, in which she had 19 strikeouts. In 2014, opposing hitters batted .088 against her.
At the plate, she batted .405, second highest to her batterymate Alyssa Herion's .420 and had 30 hits, most on the team.
With the distinction, Balint joins an elite alumni association of past state award-winners, including baseball legend Derek Jeter, WNBA All-Star Candace Parker, U.S. soccer star Abby Wambach and NFL quarterback Mark Sanchez.
Maggie Balint's 2014 Pitching Statistics
ERA W L APP K Hits Runs BB IP
0.46 20 3 24 350 50 20 44 165.2