LEXINGTON, Ky. – Following the most prolific statistical offensive season in Kentucky Softball history, senior third baseman Abbey Cheek has been named as the winner of the 2019 Schutt Sports/NFCA Division I National Softball Player of the Year, it was announced Thursday by the organization.
Cheek is the first Kentucky Wildcat to receive the award. The NFCA (National Fastpitch Coaches’ Association) also named Cheek a unanimous First Team All-American last week, becoming the first player in Kentucky history to receive that honor and just the second first teamer in UK annals, joining Kelsey Nunley (2016).
Cheek broke the career record for home runs against Missouri on March 23 and ended up beating the record by 13, pummeled the career RBI record, surpassing it by 40 and also scored the most runs in program history with 163 in her career, 11 more than the previous record.
In 2019 alone, Cheek was top-three for single-season marks in batting average (3rd, .428), home runs (2nd, 20), runs scored (2nd, 54), total bases (1st, 138), on-base percentage (1st, .602), slugging (1st, .902) and walks (1st, 64).
Her trophy case for 2019 is filling up, as she was also named the Southeastern Conference’s Player of the Year, SEC All-Defensive (3B), First Team All-SEC, 2019 SEC All-Tournament Team and NFCA First Team All-South Region.
She was recognized for her play not only in the SEC, but nationally as well. Cheek made it into the final 10 for the coveted USA Softball National Player of the Year, and was voted as a CoSIDA Academic All-District Team member for the first time in her career.
Cheek saw her dreams come to fruition in April, as she was selected No. 14 overall by the Chicago Bandits in the National Pro Fastpitch (NPF) Draft.
Established in 1983, the National Fastpitch Coaches Association (NFCA) is the professional growth organization for fastpitch softball coaches from all competitive levels of play. Although collegiate coaches comprised the majority of the organization's membership in the early days, today they are joined by high school, travel ball, professional and international coaches, along with umpires, clubs, businesses and fans of fastpitch softball. Growing from 40 members in 1983 to over 5,700 today, the NFCA boasts members from all 50 states and 11 international countries – Canada, Czech Republic, Germany, Great Britain, Ireland, Italy, Netherlands, New Zealand, Singapore, Switzerland and Sweden.