LEXINGTON, Ky. (11/5/13) – The 2013 Kentucky softball season was a success for head coach Rachel Lawson and Co., as the team set a school record for wins in a season on top of advancing to its second NCAA Super Regional in school history. The team put the final stamp on that historic season over the weekend by announcing the 2013 team awards and naming the 2014 team captains at its annual alumni tailgate last weekend.
Lawson and the rest of the staff closed the book on 2013 at the annual tailgate by announcing five 2013 team awards, including Rookie of the Year, Blue Heart Award, Offensive Player of the Year, Defensive Player of the Year and Most Valuable Player. The awards were voted on by Lawson, associate head coach Kristine Himes and assistant coach Molly Johnson-Belcher.
Pitcher Kelsey Nunley took home Rookie of the Year after a great rookie campaign last year. The native of Soddy Daisy, Tenn., set a school record for wins in a season with 27 ending the year with a 27-11 record and 2.14 ERA. Nunley’s 27 wins last season was the most among freshmen pitchers in the nation, while she also led all Southeastern Conference freshmen pitchers in ERA, wins and strikeouts. Nunley earned All-SEC Freshman Team honors by league coaches for her efforts in 2013.
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 Jolly. The native of Owensboro, Ky., played in 56 games with 32 starts in 2013 at multiple positions, providing Lawson with options in the outfield and an impact player off the bench. Jolly had only one error in the field on the season, while adding a double and home run at the plate.
Lauren Cumbess was named Offensive Player of the Year for Kentucky after leading the Wildcats in batting average, at-bats, hits, home runs and RBI. The native of Normal, Ill., hit .323 on the year with 12 doubles, 13 homers and 43 RBI. Cumbess slugged .577 for the season with a .370 on-base percentage. Her 13 homers ranked tied for the third most in a single season in school history. Cumbess, who led the team with 23 multi-hit games, had a career-long 12-game hitting streak during the season where she was locked in at the plate, belting six doubles, six homers and 13 RBI during the 12-game stretch. Cumbess was named to the National Fastpitch Coaches Association All-Southeast Region Second Team for her efforts.
The Defensive Player of the Year was awarded to catcher Griffin Joiner, who caught every pitch of the 2013 season for Kentucky. The native of Hopkinsville, Ky., had a fantastic defensive year finishing second in the SEC with 15 runners caught stealing, including all five base runners that attempted to steal in UK’s three-game series with Mississippi State. Joiner had 344 putouts on the season, while her four passed balls were tied for the lowest in the league. Joiner also provided offense with a team-high 13 doubles adding 10 homers and 41 RBI.
The staff named Co-Most Valuable Players in Nunley, who had one of the best seasons in the circle in school history, and Cumbess, who had a breakout year at the plate ranking high in several single-season records at season’s end.
With the 2013 team awards announced the staff and players turned its attention to the upcoming 2014 season by naming Cumbess and Joiner permanent team captains for the season. Cumbess was a team captain last season, while this will be Joiner’s first as team captain. Captains were voted on by the players and members of the UK softball support staff. Players and staff could vote for any player they seemed worthy of being captain and could vote for as many players as they wished.
The team recently completed a success fall season and will spend the winter months getting ready for the spring season, which begins in February.
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Information provided by UK Athletics
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