Five Softball Stars Sign NLI with Kentucky for 2015-16


Nov. 17, 2014

LEXINGTON, Ky. - Since advancing to the 2014 Women's College World Series, the Kentucky softball team's momentum continues to mount, especially on the recruiting trail as eighth-year head coach Rachel Lawson announces the signing of five high school stars for the 2015-16 season.
 
Infielder Abbey Cheek (Inman, S.C.), outfielder Hannah Huffman (Lebanon, Ohio), outfielder Lauren Lewis (Chattanooga, Tenn.), outfielder Katie Reed (St. Louis, Mo.) and catcher Jenny Schaper (St. Louis, Mo.) have signed National Letters of Intent to play softball at UK. The five impressive athletes will arrive in Lexington in the fall of 2015, adding to the depth Lawson and Co. have built in their tenure in the Commonwealth. The class is ranked in the top 15 nationally by fullcountsoftball.com.
 
"This 2015 class should prove to be another strong class for our program," Lawson said. "This is one of our most balanced classes when you take into account speed, power and softball intelligence. In addition to their athletic potential, all five signees come from standout travel ball organizations with elite-level coaches that do an exception job preparing their athletes for the next level. It is my expectation that this 2015 class will make an immediate impact in Lexington."
 
The signees come from all over the nation as Cheek will join a group of recent Wildcats from South Carolina, while Lewis joins a line of recent UK signees from Tennessee, joining current Wildcats Kelsey Nunley (Soddy Daisy), Meagan Prince (Martin) and Haley Andrus (Chattanooga). Huffman, Reed and Schaper will join the Wildcats from new states currently not represented on the UK roster. Huffmann is from nearby Lebanon, Ohio, just north of Cincinnati, while Reed and Schaper join the program from St. Louis, America's best baseball city. 
 
More on all five signees can be found below:
 
Abbey Cheek

Abbey Cheek

Inman, S.C.
Infield
Chapman High School


About Abbey Cheek:
Considered the top overall prospect in the state of South Carolina by SCVarsity.com and The State, Cheek brings raw talent and power to the Bluegrass State. Entering her senior season at Chapman High School in Inman, S.C., Cheek is an all-around athlete earning countless honors in softball, volleyball and basketball. Cheek had a great junior season with a .549 batting average, adding 16 home runs, three triples and six doubles. Those gaudy numbers came even though most teams didn't pitch to the slugger, registering over 30 walks - mostly intentional - which set a new school record. Cheek hit .486 her sophomore season with 12 homers, five triples and 12 doubles, while her freshman season she had seven homers, five triples and nine doubles. The impressive athlete has led Chapman to the regional and division championship each of the last three seasons. A five-year letterwinner in softball, Cheek has been named South Carolina High School League and High School Sports Report All-State and All-Region all three years, while she was the SCHSL Region Player of the Year her freshman and junior years and HSSR Player of the Year all three years. Cheek, who was a nominee for South Carolina Gatorade Player of the Year last season, played travel ball with the South Carolina Elite under head coach Tony Genovese. Genovese described Cheek as "probably the best hitter on the team, she'll hit for high average and a lot of home runs. She plays third and first and can play the outfield." Cheek played a year up with the SC Elite, hitting over 200 home runs in her nine years with the squad. Cheek is on fullcountsoftball.com's national watch list and was named to the USA Elite Select All-Star roster. An all-region honoree in volleyball and basketball, Cheek is very involved away from athletics as a four-year member of the Fellowship of Christian Athletes and Beta Club. Daughter of Monica Cheek and stepfather Lee Newman, she has an older brother, Jerrett Heard, and sister, Caitlyn Cheek. She plans a major in kinesiology/health promotion.
 
Lawson on Abbey Cheek: "I have never been more excited about the potential of one of our signees than I am for Abbey Cheek. Abbey is one of those rare athletes that can play any position on the field with speed and exceptional power. Abbey is an incredibly hard worker and the ultimate team player. In my opinion, as Abbey develops, she projects to become one of the best players in the nation."
 
Abbey Cheek on Kentucky: "I knew I wanted to be a Wildcat as soon as I left my unofficial visit. There were two reasons I chose to attend UK. First, I wanted to play softball at a higher level within a program that continues to impress and I was impressed with the atmosphere created by the players and coaches during my visit. The three prior unofficial visits didn't even compare to the way I was treated by the UK coaches and players. They treated me like family the minute I walked on campus and that's when I knew I wanted to be part of the Big Blue Nation. I am so excited to wear the UK softball uniform and contribute to making another appearance in Oklahoma City."
Hannah Huffman

Hannah Huffman

Lebanon, Ohio
Outfield
Lebanon High School


About Hannah Huffman:
A speedy, left-handed hitter that is a strong slapper and can also showcase some power, Huffman comes to Kentucky after an impressive high school career at Lebanon High School in Ohio. Huffman hit .519 this fall for LHS, including a .595 on-base percentage and 21 stolen bases. Her junior year, Huffman hit .452, while she hit .333 her sophomore season with a .380 on-base percentage and one home run and .350 her freshman season with a .409 on-base percentage. Huffman helped her team make deep runs into postseason play each of the last three years, including the state championship game her freshman season. Behind Huffman's strong play, LHS claimed district and sectional championships each of the last three years, while advancing the state semifinals last season. The outfielder, who can play some infield, was named all-league each of the last two years. Huffman was also a strong performer in travel ball, hitting .510 last summer with two home runs and 70 stolen bases, while the summer of her sophomore season she had a .572 on-base percentage with a .450 batting average. Huffman is a skilled athlete that also participated in cross country in high school, qualifying for regionals all three years. Outside of athletics, Huffman was a four-year Harmon Civic Trust Scholar Athlete and member of the National Honors Society and secretary of her school's Fellowship of Christian Athletes. She also was an ASA Gold Participant and volunteered at the LPC Feeding Ministry. The daughter of John and Krista Huffman, Hannah has one sister, Zoe. She is planning a major in architecture.
 
Lawson on Hannah Huffman: "When I saw Hannah play, my instincts told me she was going to be a great fit for the program. Hannah brings us speed, a left-handed bat and does a great job running down balls in the outfield. In addition to her athletic talents, Hannah is a brilliant student, a skill that will allow her to adapt to the speed of the SEC at a rapid pace."
 
Hannah Huffman on Kentucky: "I choose Kentucky because I want the challenge of playing at the highest level and I want to play in the Women's College World Series one day."

Lauren Lewis

Lauren Lewis

Chattanooga, Tenn.
Outfield
Baylor High School


About Lauren Lewis:
Ranked as the 26th best player in the class of 2015 by fullcountsoftball.com and 25th best player in the class of 2015 by studentsports.com, Lauren Lewis brings a winning tradition to Lexington after several state titles at Baylor High School in Chattanooga, Tenn., with current UK freshman Haley Andrus. Fullcountsoftball.com describes Lewis as a "power-hitting outfielder with a strong arm." Lewis, who has been playing varsity softball since eighth grade, is a three-year all-state and best of preps selection after strong freshman, sophomore and junior seasons. The slugger hit .408 as a freshman with 12 doubles, 11 home runs and 63 RBI on her way to Max Preps Freshman All-America honors. Her sophomore season, Lewis hit .479 with 14 doubles, 10 homers and 47 RBI and had an amazing performance in the TSSAA State Tournament. Lewis set the tournament record for most grand slams, most home runs, most RBI and most RBI in a game at the event. Last season, Lewis hit .424 with 15 doubles, eight homers and 49 RBI. Lewis lettered in softball as an eighth grader, hitting .434 with 11 doubles and one homer. Out of her school-record 30 career home runs hit in high school, Lewis has six grand slams. An all-around athlete that also played basketball, Lewis has been active away from athletics, helping set up a blood drive at her high school that took in over 200 donations. Lauren comes from an athletic family as her father, Kirk, played baseball at Auburn. She is the daughter of Kirk and Sheri Lewis and has one sibling, Landon. Lauren is planning on majoring in nursing.
 
Lawson on Lauren Lewis: "Lauren is a gifted athlete who can play both in the infield and the outfield. Lauren possesses untapped speed and has a powerful bat. In addition, Lauren has played for several championships both at the high school and travel-ball level. This winning mindset is a skill set that always helps an athlete's transition into the SEC."
 
Lauren Lewis on Kentucky: "I love the facilities, the campus and the opportunity to compete at the highest level in the best conference in the nation."

Katie Reed

Katie Reed

St. Louis, Mo.
Infield
Oakville High School


About Katie Reed:
A four-year letterwinner at Oakville High School in St. Louis, Reed brings an enormous amount of athleticism to Lexington as a softball, basketball, track and hockey star. According to fullcountsoftball.com, Reed is the 32nd-best player in the class of 2015, saying Reed "has it all: quickness, arm strength, footwork, range and great instincts. At the plate she has speed and power and can just as easily hit a home run, a gap or lay down a bunt." This fall, Reed paced the Tigers with a .564 average (53-for-94) with 44 runs scored, 16 doubles, two triples and 27 RBI. The speedster had a .610 on-base percentage and .777 slugging percentage, leading the team to the 2014 Capital City Invitational Championship. Reed earned countless awards this fall, including being named first team all-state, all-region, all-conference and all-district on top of earning the Suburban West Conference Player of the Year honor. Reed was also all-state, all-region, all-conference and all-district her junior and senior seasons, hitting .480 her junior year and .482 her sophomore season. Reed, who helped the Tigers earn the 2013 district and sectional championships, paced the team in hits her freshman year at Oakville, hitting .464 with a .513 on-base percentage. Reed played for the St. Louis Chaos in travel ball, helping the squad place fifth at 2014 USA/ASA 18u Gold Nationals along with fellow UK signee Jenny Schaper. An all-around athlete, Reed was a 300-meter hurdle conference champion and was a captain on the AAA St. Louis Lady Blues hockey team. A four-year honor roll student and member of the National Honor Society, Reed was a HOBY Leadership Award nominee and Glory of Missouri Award for Virtue recipient. Reed also spent time volunteering in her community for the St. Patrick's Center and Special Olympics. Daughter of Mike and Debbie Reed, Katie was born in Memphis, Tenn. Katie has a sister, Baeley, who is a softball player at Drexel, and a brother, Jake.
 
Lawson on Katie Reed: "Katie Reed is an exceptional athlete that exhibits speed, a strong arm and a quick release. In addition to her athletic tools, Katie possesses incredible instincts for the sport. Because of Katie's toughness, I am confident she could play any position on the field, but without question, Katie could develop into an elite middle infielder in the SEC."
 
Katie Reed on Kentucky: "I choose Kentucky because I wanted to be a part of a program that is competitive on the field and in the classroom and I felt the coaches at Kentucky have created that type of atmosphere. When I stepped on campus, I knew UK would be a great fit for me and I can't wait to be a Wildcat." 

Jenny Schaper

Jenny Schaper

St. Louis, Mo.
Catcher
Lutheran High School South


About Jenny Schaper:
A four-year letterwinner at Lutheran High School South in St. Louis, Schaper helped the Lancers to state sectionals her sophomore and junior seasons behind some impressive offensive numbers. Her senior season she hit .468 with a .566 on-base percentage, .613 slugging percentage and perfect fielding percentage. The strong senior campaign - which Schaper missed three weeks of due to injury - led her to all-state and team most valuable player honors. Schaper broke the school record with a .592 batting average her sophomore season with 10 doubles, eight homers, 38 RBI and no strikeouts at the plate. Schaper, described in a story by STLhighschoolsports.com as a "defensive whiz," had a perfect fielding percentage her sophomore year. The strong season led Schaper to first-team all-district, all-conference, all-region and all-state honors. She was also named the conference player of the year her sophomore season and the team's most valuable player. Her junior year, Schaper hit .416 with a .516 on-base percentage, .688 slugging percentage, 11 doubles, 30 RBI and two home runs. Schaper, who is on fullcountsoftball.com's national watch list, was named all-district, all-conference and all-region her junior year, adding team MVP honors. Coached in high school by Linda McQueen, who says Schaper is "a great hitter and has an unbelievable arm ... She is just the total player." Schaper played for the St. Louis Chaos in travel ball, helping the squad place fifth at 2014 USA/ASA 18u Gold Nationals along with fellow UK signee Katie Reed. Chaos coach Evan Beatty says Schaper is "so mechanically sound that she avoids going into slumps. I expect her to break a lot of records." A member of the Athletic Leadership Program and National Honor Society, Schaper is an honor roll student. She is the daughter of Jim and Marcia Schaper and has a brother, Nick and sister, Katie.
 
Lawson on Jenny Schaper: "Jenny possesses all of the tools to become an elite-level catcher. Jenny is an incredibly hard worker, an excellent receiver and most importantly, she is a natural leader. To add to her advanced catching skills, Jenny is also a fierce competitor at the plate. I am most impressed by the manner in which Jenny controls the game. She is the type of catcher that every pitcher loves having behind the plate."
 
Jenny Schaper on Kentucky: "I choose Kentucky because as soon as I got there I loved everything about it. The campus, coaches and softball program really drew me in. I committed in December my sophomore year of high school and every day since then I have never been happier with making the decision that I did."