The Pace softball team, led by a senior class with top national talent, aims to clinch a state title after three consecutive seasons of falling short in the playoffs. Head coach Lexi Alexander acknowledges the high expectations and pressure on the team, emphasizing the need for consistent practice to reach their goal. Despite past heartbreaks, the team remains hopeful, aware of their capabilities and focused on maintaining their health and performance. The upcoming season features a challenging schedule, including tough in-state competition and out-of-state opponents, reflecting the team's commitment to playing against the best. Players Jayden Heavener and Shelby McKenzie are seasoned veterans, with Heavener returning from surgery and incorporating new pitching techniques, while McKenzie, named the PNJ Hitter of the Year in 2023, continues to prepare intensively. The senior class is described as dedicated leaders, with a strong work ethic and a focus on pushing themselves and their teammates to excel.

By the Numbers
  • The last three seasons for the Pace softball team have ended in heartbreak, with losses in the state semifinals and the 2022 Class 6A state championship game.
  • Pace's senior class includes two of the top-20 players in the country, according to MaxPreps: Jayden Heavener and Shelby McKenzie.
  • Jayden Heavener, a Louisiana State University signee, was named the 2023 PNJ Player of the Year, going 18-2 with three perfect games and a .459 batting average with 33 RBIs.
  • Shelby McKenzie, a Florida State signee, had a .577 batting average, 13 home runs, and 42 RBIs in 2023, being named the PNJ Hitter of the Year.
State of Play
  • Upcoming season includes a challenging schedule with tough in-state competition and out-of-state opponents
  • Senior class emphasizes the need for consistent practice and intense preparation for the state tournament.
  • Both Jayden Heavener and Shelby McKenzie are focused on maintaining high performance and dedication as seasoned veterans.
What's Next

The Pace softball team will commence their campaign to make it back to the state tournament, starting with their first game against Spanish Fort (Alabama) and facing a tough schedule of in-state and out-of-state competition.

Bottom Line

Despite past heartbreaks, the talented Pace softball team, led by a strong senior class, remains focused on their goal of clinching a state title, emphasizing consistent practice, intense preparation, and a commitment to playing against the best as they embark on their upcoming season.