Soddy-Daisy High School pitcher Kelsey Nunley has accepted a scholarship offer to continue her softball career at the University of Kentucky.
Nunley, who also visited Tennessee and UT-Chattanooga, said she's wanted to play at a high NCAA Division I level like the Southeastern Conference for as long as she can remember. She's contemplated playing for the Wildcats since visiting the Lexington campus March 1 and made a commitment this summer.
"That's the biggest division," Nunley said. "That's the best league, and I always want to be in the best competition."
Nunley was a first-team all-city selection last season after registering a 25-7 pitching record with an earned run average of 0.78 for the Class AAA state runner-up. The previous two seasons, including 2010 when the Lady Trojans finished 52-3, won the state title and ended in the top five in two national polls, Nunley was chosen the Times Free Press all-city player of the year.
Soddy-Daisy coach Clifford Kirk said Nunley became his No. 2 pitcher as soon as she came up from Loftis Middle School, and not long afterward she worked her way into the role of ace of the staff.
"Each year she's proven she can handle the competition, and for sure by the end of her sophomore year, I didn't know how high up in the SEC she might could play, but I knew she could play at that level," Kirk said. "Her best asset is her competitiveness. She's like me: She doesn't like to lose.
"I think she'll do well. She'll do whatever it takes to do well. I think she'll make a name for herself."
Nunley said she still has room for improvement, particularly in maneuvering the ball around the hitting zone. Her fastball is routinely in the mid-to-upper-60s range in miles per hour.
"Location and speed I know are important. It helps to have those. But that's not really the big thing," Nunley said. "I've seen pitchers throw 60, 61 that are really good because of the movement they have on their pitches."
Nunley is a starter for Soddy-Daisy's volleyball team, which was 11-0 heading into this weekend's Choo Choo tournament at East Ridge and Red Bank. She was a first-team all-city selection in basketball last season after averaging 18.9 points and 10.7 rebounds per game. She also received scholarship offers in those sports.
Nunley said she plans to major in physical therapy or kinesiology.
Kelley Smiddie is a sports writer who has worked at the Times Free Press for 12 years. He covers high school sports and softball. Kelley’s hometown is Chattanooga, and he graduated from Brainerd High School and graduated Chattanooga State and UTC. Contact Kelley at 423-757-6653 or firstname.lastname@example.org.