Niceville High School kicks off signing season with three JUCO softball commits.

NICEVILLE — Niceville High School had more than 40 student athletes sign scholarships this past year. In 2019, Eagle principal Charlie Marello has set his sights even higher.


“Hopefully, our goal is that we do better than we did last year,” he said.


After Tuesday’s signing ceremony in the Niceville High School auditorium, the Eagles are off to a good start: Senior softball players Lindsey Mayo, Blake Eslinger and Mikhala Hampton are each off to the next level, while staying close to home. Eslinger and Hampton are teaming up just down the road at NWF State College, and Mayo is headed to Gulf Coast State in Panama City.


An infielder, Mayo hit .284 this past year with 11 RBI and five extra-base hits. Behind the dish, Eslinger caught for two pitchers that finished with sub-2.00 ERAs as she hit .333 with 23 RBIs and seven extra-base hits.


Meanwhile, Hampton earned First Team All-Area honors after posting a 1.38 ERA with 53 strikeouts across 86.1 innings.


The trio part of two Final Four runs in the past three years, coach Danny Hansley had nothing but praise for his latest batch of seniors.


“I’m extremely proud of this class, and this is one of the most rewarding things for a coach, as far as I’m concerned,” Hensley said. “To see these kids set goals … and be able to attain those is so rewarding.”


Blake Eslinger


How did today feel?


Surreal. I can’t believe this is actually happening. I’m excited.


Why NWF State?


The atmosphere. I’m really excited for the new coaches coming in. I think they’re gonna bring something very good to the table, and I just want to play in front of my home town. It’s so special.


And you get to stick with Mikhala, too.


Words can’t even describe it. We grew up together. Like, literally since we were 3.


What do you plan to study?


It’s gonna change a million times, but as of right now, exercise science. I want to major in that.


Mikhala Hampton


How did today feel?


My family went through a lot last year, for sure, and my teammates, my coaches, my family — it was just the support. They said, “Do whatever you need.” It really settled in when I started to speak about all of them.


Why NWF State?


Whenever coach (Andy) Lee emailed me, he was like, “Hey, I like how you are as an athlete. Would you like to come to the field?” I was like, “Yes sir.” He had watched me at some tournaments, and when me and him got to talking, I knew that it was the right decision not only for me to stay here and develop for two years, but for my family after everything happened. When you have a community like this you don’t really want to leave.


What do you plan to study?


Sports medicine and being a physician in that. I’ve always wanted to help people, and I know that injuries aren’t easy to come back from. But if I could help people get back to what they want to do and help them pursue their dreams, that would make me the happiest person in the world.


Lindsey Mayo


How did today feel?


It was kind of a dream come true. I didn’t really expect it to happen this soon in my year, but I’m glad it did.


Why Gulf Coast State?


It’s close to home. The coaches are really great, the staff is really great, the school is in a great location. I love the beach, I love the location, so it’s really nice being close to home so my parents can come and watch me play.


What do you plan to study?


I’m doing health and science, mostly biology. I’m kinda going for the medical field once I get through that.