Godwin Named Gatorade Player of the Year; Season Recap

Karli Godwin
Godwin signs her intent contract to play ball for Oklahoma State University.

Though Karli Godwin has already graduated and headed off to Oklahoma State University for summer term, praises of her softball career in Columbus County linger on. Gatorade announced on Friday Godwin is the 2022–2023 Gatorade North Carolina Softball Player of the Year. She is the first N.C. softball player to be chosen from East Columbus High School. 

 The award recognizes outstanding athletic excellence, high standards of academic achievement, and moral integrity demonstrated both off and on the ball field. Godwin is now a finalist for the Gatorade National Softball Player of the Year award that will be announced in June. She joins a multitude of alumni from across the U.S. including Jordyn Bahl, Megan Faraimo, Rachel Garcia, and Cat Osterman. 

Karli Godwin 1

 Godwin posted a .731 batting average with 20 home runs this past season, leading the Gators (27-4) to the Class 1A state semifinals. She scored 64 runs, walked 35 times, and only struck out once in 131 times up to bat. She was ranked as the nation’s eighth recruit in the Class of 2023 by https://extrainningsoftball.com/, she stole 31 bases, and aided her team in scoring 86 runs while posting a .809 on-base percentage and a 1.645 slugging percentage. 

 “Karli Godwin is a special athlete and softball player,” said William Deese, head coach of Purnell Swett High School. “Defensively, she seems to make the difficult plays look easy. Offensively, she’s in another stratosphere. The ball jumps off her bat and she has power to all parts of the field. She is one of the best offensive players I have ever seen.” 

 Local Achievements and Volunteer Work 

Karli Godwin 2

 Godwin not only scored runs on the field, but she did everything in her power to score them off the field as well. She volunteered locally with her high school’s Special Education Department and the Miracle League program for differently abled children. She organized and hosted the Special Friends Field Day for all Columbus County Exceptional Children on May 4 on the ECJSHS football field. She spent her extra time as a youth softball coach. Godwin kept a 4.27 GPA during her academic career, and she will be playing softball for Oklahoma State University on a scholarship. 

 Her Team and Support System 

 The Lady Gators made quite a splash this year during softball season and were recognized at the Lake Waccamaw Town Hall meeting on Tuesday, June 13. The girls were conference champions finishing 24 to 4, and they were eastern runner-up champions making it to the fifth round for the first time in school history. The Lady Gators have been led by Coach Jason Nance for the last three years, and he has been assisted by assistant coaches Larry Godwin and Karli’s father, Bruno Godwin.  

Godwin shared the field this season with teammates Aziya Patrick, Riley Graham, Kaley Mitchell, Gabby Andrews, Ashajanar Powell, Kamora Bryant, Jenna King, Chynna Patrick, Destiney Mitchell, Ava Jacobs, Kelsie Watts, and Bailey Padgett. 

Lady Gators Softball team 2023
The Lady Gators softball team was recognized at the Lake Waccamaw Town Hall June 13 meeting.

Bruno said that his daughter’s career wouldn’t have been possible if it wasn’t for the town giving her access to the softball field at Elizabeth Brinkley Park in Lake Waccamaw. 

“My daughter would not be here today if it wasn’t for that field,” expressed the proud father.  

The Gatorade Player of the Year program recognizes one winner in the District of Columbia and each of the 50 states for high school athletic programs such as football, volleyball, cross country, basketball, soccer, baseball, softball, and track and field each year. They award one National Player of the Year in each sport.  

 To learn more about the Gatorade Player of the Year program, check out past winners, or to nominate high school athletes, visit playeroftheyear.gatorade.com or follow them on Facebook at facebook.com/GatoradePOY, Instagram at instagram.com/Gatorade, or Twitter at twitter.com/Gatorade. 


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