2014 Softball Team Awards, 2015 Team Captains Announced
LEXINGTON, Ky. - The 2014 Kentucky softball season was successful on the field and off with the team achieving its first-ever appearance in the Women's College World Series before 12 Wildcats were named National Fastpitch Coaches Association All-America Scholar-Athlete en route to UK having the ninth-best team GPA in the nation.
To put a stamp on the successful season, head coach Rachel Lawson, associate head coach Kristine Himes and assistant coach Molly Johnson-Belcher, announced the 2014 team awards at the annual alumni tailgate this past weekend, including Most Valuable Player, Rookie of the Year, Blue Heart Award, Offensive Player of the Year, Defensive Player of the Year, Scholar-Athlete of the Year and Iron Cat Award.
Pitcher Kelsey Nunley was named the 2014 MVP after a historic season in the circle. Nunley had the best season in program history for UK, going 30-11 with a 1.88 ERA in 282.1 innings pitched. The native of Soddy Daisy, Tenn., earned victories in all 10 postseason wins for Kentucky, including striking out seven batters in the WCWS against Louisiana-Lafayette. Nunley, who tossed two no-hitters on the season, set several impressive single-season marks in 2014, including second in ERA, fourth in win-loss percentage, first in wins, first in innings pitched, third in appearances, tied for second in games started, second in complete games, tied for second in shutouts, second in strikeouts and seventh in opponent batting average.
Fellow hurler Meagan Prince was named the Rookie of the Year after a strong first season for the Wildcats. Prince went 8-4 on the season with a 3.47 ERA in 70.2 innings pitched. The native of Martin, Tenn., was 2-2 in Southeastern Conference play with 21 strikeouts in 34.2 innings pitched. Prince had moments of brilliance in her rookie season, especially her four innings pitched in two games against Ole Miss, picking up her first career save.
The Blue Heart Award, which is given to a player who makes an impact through work ethic, perseverance, dependability and is a model student-athlete on and off the field, was awarded to Emily Gaines. Gaines was an amazing story for UK last season, saving her best season at the plate for her last. The native of London, Ky., hit .297 with eight doubles, seven homers and 36 RBI. Gaines hit two walk-off home runs on the year and went on an 11-game hitting streak, which was the longest of the season by any player.
For the second consecutive season, Lauren Cumbess was named the Offensive Player of the Year. Cumbess paced UK with a .315 average, adding 12 doubles, one triple, 10 homers, 41 RBI and a .532 slugging percentage. Against SEC competition, Cumbess hit .328 with four homers and 12 RBI. The native of Normal, Ill., hit well in the WCWS with four hits, two RBI and a double. Cumbess led Kentucky on the season with 18 multi-hit games and 14 multi-RBI games.
Catcher Griffin Joiner, who was named Defensive All-SEC in 2013 and 2014, earned Defensive Player of the Year for the second straight season. Joiner had a .998 fielding percentage on the season, adding 442 putouts and 32 assists. Joiner started all 69 games behind the plate and has now started an amazing 184 consecutive games for Kentucky at catcher. The native of Hopkinsville, Ky., also had a great season at the plate, hitting .309 with 11 doubles, 10 homers and 39 RBI.
The Scholar-Athlete of the Year went to Ginny Carroll, who was one of 12 UK players to be named NFCA All-America Scholar Athlete last season. Carroll is majoring in exercise science and has a strong GPA. Carroll, who was a four-year member of the SEC Academic Honor Roll, had a great season on the field as well, hitting two doubles, four homers and 13 RBI, while making a few great defensive plays. In the WCWS, Carroll hit a home run and had three RBI.
Finally, the Iron Cat Award went to Sarah Frazer, who worked tirelessly in the weight room during her tenure with the Wildcats. Frazer played in 25 games last season with one start. The native of Louisville, Ky., scored 11 runs and had a RBI. Frazer was the perfect teammate as well all four years she played for the Wildcats.
With the 2014 team awards announced, the staff and players turned their attention to the upcoming 2015 season by naming Joiner, Nunley and Christian Stokes permanent team captains for the season. Joiner was a team captain last season, while this will be Nunley and Stokes' first as team captains. Captains were voted on by the players and members of the UK softball support staff.