LEXINGTON, Ky. -- On the heels of a stellar senior season, University of Kentucky pitcher Kelsey Nunley (pictured) has been named to the ASA/USA Softball finalists list for 2016 National Player of the Year, it was announced recently. The USA Softball Collegiate Player of the Year award, which is considered the most prestigious honor in Division I women’s collegiate softball, recognizes the outstanding athletic achievement by female players across the country.
Now in its 15th year, previous recipients of the USA Softball Collegiate Player of the Year award are UCLA catcher Stacey Nuveman (2002), Texas pitcher Cat Osterman (2003, 2005 and 2006), Florida State pitcher Jessica Van der Linden (2004), Tennessee pitcher Monica Abbott (2007), Virginia Tech pitcher Angela Tincher (2008), Washington pitcher Danielle Lawrie (2009 and 2010), Stanford shortstop Ashley Hansen (2011), Oklahoma pitcher Keilani Ricketts (2012 and 2013), Florida State pitcher Lacey Waldrop (2014) and Florida pitcher Lauren Haeger (2015).
Nunley has a 15-4 overall record in 2016 and leads the Kentucky staff with over 120 strikeouts, in addition to being the active innings pitched leader in the NCAA at the current time.
Nunley went the distance Saturday (April 9) and Monday (April 11), helping Kentucky earn two shutout wins over the No. 8 Tigers. The Soddy Daisy, Tenn., native struck out over seven LSU batters on the weekend and lowered her ERA on the season to 0.97. She was also named the Southeastern Conference’s Pitcher of the Week on Monday for her efforts.
The senior sensation has appeared over 20 times in the circle this season for UK, and has 10 complete games pitched. She has also recorded six shutouts and converted on her one save opportunity – at No. 22 Arizona State. Nunley has thrown over 115 innings this season, only allowing 16 earned runs and striking out 142 batters, while only walking 31.
Nunley is also a finalist for the 2016 Senior CLASS Award, where fans can go online and vote for Nunley every day through the end of the regular season once per day. Fan balloting counts for 1/3 of the total with the remaining 2/3 determined by NCAA Division I coaches and national media members.
Just prior to the start of postseason play, the list will be narrowed to the Top 10 Finalists on May 11. The Top 3 Finalists will be announced May 25, while the winner of the 2016 USA Softball Collegiate Player of the Year award will be revealed on May 31 prior to the start of the NCAA WCWS in Oklahoma City.
The USA Softball Collegiate Player of the Year award is voted on by coaching representatives of 10 Division I Conferences in the 15 ASA/USA Softball Regions, members of the media who consistently cover Division I Softball across the country as well as past winners of the award.
After a thrilling 2-1 win over Eastern Kentucky on Wednesday night, April 13, at John Cropp Stadium thanks to an Abbey Cheek two-run home run in the bottom of the sixth, the No. 12 University of Kentucky softball team will welcome the No. 18 Missouri Tigers to Lexington for a three-game series kicking off Friday night at 6 p.m. ET.
Kelsey Nunley, Christian Stokes Selected in 2016 NPF Draft
Nunley and Stokes both selected in NPF Draft on Thursday night
NUNLEY AND STOKES SELECTED IN 2016 NATIONAL PRO FASTPITCH DRAFT
Kentucky seniors Kelsey Nunley and Christian Stokes were selected in the 2016 National Pro Fastpitch Draft on Thursday night, April 14, becoming the fourth and fifth draft picks in school history and marking the first time ever that UK has had two players drafted in the same year.
Nunley was the fifth overall pick of the draft in the first round and was taken by the USSSA Pride based in Kissimmee, Fla., with Stokes picked No. 26 overall in the fourth round by expansion franchise, The ScrapYard Dawgs based in The Woodlands, Texas.
Nunley and Stokes are the fourth and fifth Wildcat players to ever be selected in the NPF Draft, joining All-American and current assistant coach Molly Johnson-Belcher, who was selected second overall in the 2010 draft, current graduate assistant coach Griffin Joiner, who was picked 19th overall by the Akron Racers in 2015, and All-Southeastern Conference performer Megan Yocke, who went ninth overall in 2011.
Stokes is having the best year of her storied career in Lexington in 2016, batting .334 with 10 extra base hits composed of five home runs and five doubles. The South Carolina native started all 58 games of her junior season and all 69 games of her sophomore season with Kentucky, scoring a team-high 38 runs in 2014. Stokes has two game-winning home runs this season, belting a two-run bomb to beat No. 22 Arizona State on the road in February, and then backed that up with a solo shot in the top of the seventh to send Kentucky past Marshall in Huntington, W. Va.
She is known for her cannon arm at the shortstop position, and currently is sporting a career fielding percentage of .944 and was even featured on ESPN SportsCenter’s Top 10 earlier in the season for a spectacular game-ending play against South Carolina in her home state.
UK Athletics Photo