Mother Angela Owens, son Jack Owens, Tony Saladino, and father Jack Owens as the Bloomingdale graduate receives the Saladino Award.

Bloomingdale High School graduate Jack Owens was awarded the 2022 Tony Saladino Memorial Baseball Award on August 7 and became coach Kris Wilken’s first athlete to win the award.

“[Coach Wilken] has had some great players on his past teams and to be even a thought of being a part of those great players is insane to me,” said Owens. “I was always the smallest kid, and even today I still am, but Kris has trained me to the max to become the best player I can possibly be.”

The Stetson University commit was recognized for his exceptional talent on the field, boasting a 1.80 ERA and 53 strikeouts over 35 innings pitched. He batted .460 with 17 RBIs and five home runs, showcasing impressive talent both on the mound and at the plate.

While the Saladino Award is given to an outstanding athlete, the character, leadership and scholarship of the recipient is taken into consideration. Owens, in addition to being team captain, was on the principal’s honor roll and led the team to the state title as a junior last year.

“Jack understands that without accountable actions for himself, he can’t create trust among those he’s leading,” said Wilken in his nomination of Owens. “… Jack is tough, accountable, respectful and caring.”

Owens said teammate Makye Hayes expressed that the team played differently when Owens is on the field. Owens took this to heart and reflected on how his performance could impact the team. He narrowed it down to one quote he tries to live by: “Treat others how you would want to be treated.”

“Just by that quote I ended up pitching the best game,” said the Saladino Award recipient. “We ended up winning, and, most importantly, we all had fun because it doesn’t matter the talent level — if the chemistry level on a team is high, you will win.”

The 5’11” Valrico native is the third award recipient from Bloomingdale High School, following Mike Valdes in 1995 and Ryan Strauss in 2004.

“The Tony Saladino Memorial Baseball Award was established in 1971 and is presented annually to the outstanding high school senior baseball player in Hillsborough County as a memorial for my late father and my late wife, Bertha, to promote high school baseball,” said Tony Saladino.

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Lily Belcher
Lily Belcher is a writer for the Osprey Observer. She started as an intern in the summer of 2020 and has continued to write for the Osprey Observer since completing her internship. Lily is majoring in mass communications at the University of South Florida and is a staff writer for the university’s paper, The Oracle. She enjoys writing about local nonprofit organizations and community role models who have made an impact on her hometown.