FMHS softball star wins historic Gatorade Player of the Year
FORT MYERS, Fla. – Fort Myers sophomore Julia Knowler capped off a dream season by being named the Florida Gatorade Player of the Year.
Knowler became the only winner from Lee County in the award’s history and the youngest to ever win.
Rewind back to the start of the spring softball season and if you asked Knowler to choose between a state title or the Gatorade player of the year she would have said she wanted the state championship.
She checked that off the list as she helped the Greenies win their second state title in team history and a few weeks later she received the cherry on top.
“To even be nominated for it like in the first place was just amazing and to win it felt great,” Knowler said.
“Honestly we were all a little shocked at the fact that she is only a sophomore,” Julia’s former high school coach and travel team coach Johnny Manetta said.
That’s right, as a 10th grader she did it all for the Greenies going 12-2 on the mound with a 1.46 ERA and batted over .500 with eight home runs, 39 runs scored, 35 runs batted in and a 1.268 slugging percentage.
Showcasing skills longtime coach Johnny Manetta had never seen at such a young age.
“Just to be considered for Gatorade player of the year but to actually go out there and win it and win it at such a young age is a tremendous accomplishment,” Manetta said.
Doing all that while maintaining a 4.15 GPA and showcasing maturity and qualities beyond her years.
“Work ethic, mixed with desire, mixed with God-given athletic ability,” Manetta said. “She has all the attributes that you need just to become a special kid.”
Knowler is currently in the middle of a summer filled with travel ball and ahead of her junior year has set the bar pretty high, with her expectations to come back for more.
“Next year we are just going to come out even harder and try to win another state title. Big things I think are coming, I hope,” Knowler said.
Colleges are not able to offer Knowler until September of her junior year. Currently, she is enjoying the recruiting process and wants to go to whichever school can provide her with the opportunity to play in the College World Series one day.
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