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History-maker: Nunley first Cat to be first team All-American

Kelsey Nunley (UK Athletics Photo)

Kelsey Nunley (UK Athletics Photo)

LEXINGTON, Ky. – Kentucky softball’s Kelsey Nunley made more program history on Wednesday afternoon, becoming the first player in UK history to be named a National Fastpitch Coaches’ Association First Team All-American.

Nunley, who was crowned the 2016 Southeastern Conference Pitcher of the Year, joins current assistant coach Molly Johnson-Belcher as the two All-Americans in Kentucky’s program, with Johnson-Belcher earning second team honors in 2009.

Nunley joins five other pitchers on the NFCA First Team, including Delanie Gourney (Florida), Megan Good (James Madison), Paige Parker (Oklahoma), Aleshia Ocasio (Florida) and Jailyn Ford (James Madison). Nunley and Ocasio were at-large selections for the first team pitcher spot.

The senior from Soddy Daisy, Tenn., pitched a fantastic senior season for Kentucky, ending the year with a 21-6 overall record and a program single-season best 1.26 ERA in her 37 appearances in the circle for the Blue and White. Nunley started 23 games for UK, throwing 13 complete games and seven shutouts.

With her 181.1 innings pitched, Nunley overtook the NCAA active pitchers career innings lead, as she ended her career with a whopping 943.1 innings thrown in her four years in Lexington. She started 117 games in her four-year career with 21 shutouts and 86 complete games for the Wildcats.

In 2016 alone, Nunley set or surpassed new program bests for single-season ERA, career innings pitched, appearances, wins and saves. She was named the SEC Pitcher of the Week two times in back-to-back weeks and led all SEC pitchers in conference play with 188 strikeouts. She was named to the All-SEC First Team for the first time in her career and was top 10 in the NCAA for ERA.

Nunley was not only a finalist for the 2016 ASA/USA Softball Player of the Year, but also got things done away from the field in the community and the classroom as she was named one of 10 finalists for the Senior CLASS Award. She helped lead the UK softball senior class to a 3.53 GPA in its four years at Kentucky.

The USSSA Pride out of Kissimmee, Fla., selected Nunley fifth overall in the first round of the 2016 National Pro Fastpitch Draft – the highest-drafted player to ever come out of Kentucky. Nunley signed her first professional contract with the Pride on Thursday. Nunley will be kicking off her professional career against the ScrapYard Dawgs – whom with UK head coach Rachel Lawson is an assistant coach for – on June 10.

There were 56 total All-Americans selected in 2016 with 18 named to the first and second team and 19 to the third team. Of the 56 student-athletes selected, the SEC had 18 players named to the three teams, eight more than the closest other conference.

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