LEXINGTON, Ky. – After impressive seasons on the diamond for the No. 15 University of Kentucky softball team, sophomore catcher Griffin Joiner and freshman pitcher Kelsey Nunley were named All-Southeastern Conference performers by league coaches on Tuesday, the conference office announced in a news release.
Joiner, who was named to the Freshman All-SEC Team last season, picked up two conference honors this season, being named to the All-SEC Second Team and All-SEC Defensive Team. Nunley, who has been named SEC Freshman of the Week and SEC Pitcher of the Week this season, was one of two pitchers named a Freshman All-SEC performer.
Joiner’s placement on the All-SEC Second Team marks the seventh-consecutive year a UK player has been named an All-SEC performer, while she is the fourth player in school history to be honored on the All-SEC Defensive Team. Nunley’s appearance on the Freshman All-SEC Team marks the third year in a row UK has had a player named to the team with Nunley being only the 10 player in school history to make the list. Teammates Emily Jolly (2011) and Joiner (2012) were on the team the previous two seasons.
Joiner is having a great year for Kentucky at the dish, hitting .327 (52-for-159) with 27 runs scored, leading the team with 13 doubles and 41 RBI, adding 10 homers. Her doubles, home run and RBI totals surpass her totals from last season. The native of Hopkinsville, Ky., had the best game of her career against UNC, going 4-for-4 with career highs in home runs with two, runs scored with four and RBI with six. Joiner’s two homers in a single game marked only the 19th time in school history a player had accomplished that feat and the first since 2011, while she was only the fourth player in school history to earn six or more RBI in a game. Joiner’s four runs scored tied the school record for most runs scored in a game, becoming the first player since 2008 to earn that honor.
Joiner has also had an impact behind the plate, helping UK’s young pitching staff and providing great defense. Joiner is fielding at a .986 clip this season. She has caught 14 of 55 base runners stealing as well, including 10 of 28 in SEC play. Joiner threw out all five runners that tried to steal in the Mississippi State series. Her 14 runners caught stealing ranks tied for second most in the SEC.
Nunley has started her collegiate career in style with a 24-7 record, becoming the first player in school history to win 20 games in a single season. Nunley was also the first player in school history to start a season 10-0 in the circle. Nunley’s 24 wins surpass former stars Keary Camunas (2000) and Chanda Bell (2009) in the record books. The week she broke the record, Nunley was named SEC Pitcher of the Week – the first freshman in school history to earn that honor. Nunley became the third player in school history to earn two SEC weekly honors in one season when she was named SEC Freshman of the Week after wins over highly ranked Louisville and Missouri a few weeks back.
Nunley leads the Wildcats with a 2.01 ERA this season in a team-high 223.1 innings pitched with 170 strikeouts. The native of Soddy Daisy, Tenn., has 19 complete games and three shutouts on the year and has allowed only 64 earned runs. In her 22 starts this season, Nunley is 16-6 with a 2.09 ERA, throwing 144 innings with 109 strikeouts and only 43 earned runs. In her 18 relief appearances this season, Nunley is 8-1 with a 1.85 ERA, throwing 79.1 innings with 61 strikeouts. Nunley leads all SEC freshmen pitchers in ERA, wins and strikeouts.
Nunley’s wins have come against stiff competition this season, as she has earned wins against highly ranked Alabama, Louisville, Florida, Missouri, Stanford and Washington. The freshman also won against Oregon State, San Diego State and USC Upstate, who were either ranked or receiving votes at some point this season. Last weekend, Nunley became the first pitcher since 2010 to shut out Alabama in Tuscaloosa, Ala., and only the sixth pitcher since 2008 to pitch a pair of complete-game wins in a single series against the Tide.