CRESTVIEW — Roman Donofro outdueled Choctawhatchee's Bryan Baker and Niceville's Nick Junger. He went 2-0 against archrival Niceville. He shined in bright spotlight of postseason baseball’s, tossing 16 scoreless innings at one point and allowing just one earned run over 21 innings.
Through every fall-of-the-table curveball and deceptively fast fastball, Donofro embodied every telltale sign of an ace.
The right-hander pitched an area-high 79 innings, yielding just 16 earned runs for a 1.42 earned run average. Further delving into the numbers, Donofro had 96 strikeouts (8.5 per seven innings), held opponents to a .253 average and went 8-4.
Capping off a late-in-the-season 10-game winning streak, Donofro dazzled against Marianna. The 5-foot-7-inch, 160-pound senior struck out eight Bulldogs and walked four for his first no-hitter.
Pitted against second-seeded Niceville in the win-or-go-home setting of the District 2-6A semifinals, Donofro struck out 11 and allowed just five hits in a 6-0 shutout win.
The win not only punched the Bulldogs’ postseason ticket, it gave them a 3-0 mark against their state-ranked archrival. The transformative win was part of a postseason stretch in which Donofro recorded the 16 consecutive scoreless innings, further cementing his ace status.
And, essentially, it cemented his Northwest Florida Daily News Big School Pitcher of the Year award.
“It feels pretty great,” said Donofro, who had just assumed the award would be handed to Baker.
For Crestview coach Tim Gillis it was a one-man race.
“I think he’s a no-brainer,” Gillis said of the selection. “I say that with a bias because he’s my guy, but he also had the best season of anyone. In all the big games he pitched for us.”
Donofro was joined on the All-Area first team by Bulldog teammates Dakota Dean, Seth Thomason, Tyler Henderson, Austin Armstrong and Tate Sweatt. Davis Champion and Justin Rebholz were named to the second team. Gillis was named the Coach of the Year.
Several local players also made the Small School All-Area team.
BakerSchool's Alan Weidenhammer and Adam Crowson were named to the first team, as was Laurel Hill School's Boomer Simmons. Ben Crowson and Garrett Sanders represented Baker on the second team. Logan Nixon, Jake Rainey, Austin Davis and Kyle Davis received honorable mention.
Laurel Hill's Tyler Grezlik was second team and Max Smith was honorable mention.