NICEVILLE — Uh oh, Sam Roe, you’ve gone and done it again.
For the second straight year, the Niceville sophomore and University of Florida commit was named the No. 1 prospect of the 2022 class according to Extra Inning Softball.
“It feels amazing,” Roe said. “Last year I wanted to see how hard I could work and where it could get me. This year, I didn’t know I could keep the (No. 1 ranking) so I wasn’t worried about it. I was just hoping to stay high on the list.”
Come Friday, Sam’s mom, Bobbi, sat her down and told her she had a call.
“For me?” Roe thought.
Serving up the good news on the other end of the line was Brentt Eads, the President and Executive Editor of Extra Inning Softball.
“This year, from last year, has been amazing in terms of stepping up a level,” Roe said. “I’ve just been working so hard and the level of competition, which was great last year, has only improved.”
Roe’s natural position, despite playing shortstop for Niceville and taking some time at the corners for travel ball, is catcher.
“It’s my favorite position,” she said. “Being able to communicate with the pitchers and the team and making sure everyone is on the same page … I really enjoy defense. It’s one of my favorite parts of the game.”
Yet, given the defensive stresses of the position, catchers aren’t typically so sure-handed with the bat. That’s where Roe distances herself with a compact, powerful swing and effortless speed.
As an eighth-grader for the 20-2 Rocky Bayou Knights, Roe hit .625 with 46 RBI, 43 runs, 31 extra-base hits, 15 walks, eight homers and an other-worldly .690 OBP, 1.375 slugging percentage and 2.065 OPS. In cementing her Hitter of the Year campaign, she also stole 20 bases in 22 attempts and didn’t strike out once.
After spurning schools like LSU, Ole Miss, Auburn and Alabama to commit to Florida as just a 13-year-old, she transferred to Niceville as a freshman and went on to hit.429 with 37 runs, 25 RBI and 16 extra-base hits for the regional qualifying Eagles.
This season, Roe had three homers in a doubleheader on Feb. 29 in the FL vs. USA tournament in Panama City. The Eagles are currently 5-3 and on a three-game win streak following a 1-0 victory at Lincoln in 10 innings, but the season has been put on hold due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The FHSAA won’t decide on the spring season’s fate until at least May 3, but Roe believes this team is special.
“I feel like right before the cutoff, we were all growing so much as a team and the seniors were really stepping forward,” she said. “We were meshing well together and growing so much together, so regardless of how this ends we’re looking to begin right where we left off.”
As for her pandemic routine, Roe said she’s “focused on drilling on mechanics and making sure her strong points stay strong and her weak points are improved upon.”
After all, come 2021 she’ll have a No. 1 prospect crown to defend.