Huntyr Ava played the entire 5A softball championship for West High on Thursday thinking a girl from Washington had won the Gatorade Utah Softball Player of the Year Award. The Panthers won back-to-back games, securing their second title in four years.
After the team returned from the state tournament, Ava’s cousin congratulated her on winning the award. She was confused, so her cousin told her someone announced it on Twitter. After confirming the tweet came from The Salt Lake Tribune, it hit her that she in fact was the recipient of the prestigious award.
“I really can’t put my feelings toward this award in words,” Ava told The Tribune. “I guess I’m just truly grateful and blessed.”
Ava became the first softball player from West High to win the award. She is one of the only athletes in the school’s history to win the award in any sport, West athletic director Rachel Townsend said.
Ava, who signed a national letter of intent to play at Brigham Young University, won two 5A state championships at West in her time playing varsity softball. The other was during her sophomore year.
In her career at West, Ava hit 56 home runs, batted a sizzling .627 and drove in 213 runs, per statistics on MaxPreps. Townsend said Ava winning the award was a “no-brainer” because the shortstop broke home run records throughout her four years in high school.
Ava said winning the award was important to her because it was a way to give back to her community of Rose Park, a town just outside of Salt Lake City that is not as affluent as other communities.
“So many people look down on Rose Park, but it’s actually full of love and family and just what you would think a community is,” Ava said. “Everybody always comes together no matter what.”
Ava hopes her legacy at West is one that exemplifies someone who works hard both on the softball field and in the classroom and is a good leader, she said. In anticipation of playing at BYU, she’s looking forward to playing at a faster pace and having the entirety of Utah County rooting for her and her team.