LOUISVILLE, Ky. – College of Idaho’s Haley Loffer, Georgia Gwinnett College’s Annalise Wood and Baker University’s Kira Baker were voted TUCCI/NFCA NAIA Player, Pitcher and Freshman of the Year, the Association announced on Thursday afternoon.
Loffer, a graduate shortstop, slashed .404/.564/.770, one of the top lines in the nation, to go along with an NAIA-best 81 runs scored and 52 walks. Her .564 on-base percentage ranked fourth nationally, while she also put up top-20 numbers with 12 home runs (14th), 124 total bases (13th), 40 stolen bases (15th) and .770 slugging percentage (17th). The NFCA first-team All-American also recorded 19 multi-hit games, drove in 42 runs and struck out just 10 times in 237 plate appearances.
Wood, a first-team NFCA All-American, had a tremendous campaign helping the Grizzlies earn a NAIA Softball World Series appearance. She became the first pitcher in NAIA history to twirl three perfect games in a season and finished 2023 with four no-hitters. The sophomore hurler posted a 23-3 record with the NAIA’s fourth-lowest ERA at 0.92 and 300 strikeouts over 198.2 innings. In 33 appearances, Wood held the opposition to a .156 batting average. A native of Mt. Juliet, Tenn., Wood punched out a program record 17 batters against Middle Georgia on February 21 and matched that feat twice more against Mobile (April 6) and Webber International (April 22).
Baker, a rookie hurler, played a pivotal role in the Wildcats matching a program-record 47 wins and making the team’s first appearance in the NAIA Softball World Series. The southpaw from Eudora, Kan. was sparkling in the circle with a 24-3 record and two saves in 176 innings. Baker registered the second-best ERA in the country at 0.64 and amassed the third highest strikeout total with 314. A first-team NFCA All-American, Baker tossed six no-hitters which included two perfect games.
The Player of the Year award was created to honor the outstanding athletic achievements among softball student-athletes throughout the NAIA. In 2019, the Association expanded the award to include a Player and Pitcher of the Year. To be eligible, student-athletes must be nominated by their member head coach.
The Freshman of the Year award honors the outstanding athletic achievement among freshman softball student-athletes throughout NAIA. To be eligible, student-athletes must come from a NFCA member institution. Reinhardt’s Emily Loveless was the inaugural winner in 2021 and Southeastern’s Riley Sanders collected the award in 2022.
All special awards are voted on by the Association’s NAIA All-America Committee, which is comprised of one elected member head coach from each of the NFCA’s six regions.
TUCCI/NFCA Player & Pitcher of the Year
2022 – Kennedy Jackson, Oklahoma City University (Player) / Emily Cerny, University of Science and Arts of Oklahoma (Pitcher)
2021 – Maile Deutsch, McPherson University (Player) / Allison Golic, St. Xavier University (Pitcher)
2019 – JC Smith, Oklahoma City University (Player) / Gabby Sandoval, Southern Oregon University (Pitcher)
2018 – Emily Cerny, University of Science and Arts of Oklahoma
2017 – Kaisey Carson, Indiana Wesleyan University
2016 – Nicole Nonnemacher, St. Xavier University
*No award in 2020
Celebrating 40 years in 2023, the NFCA (National Fastpitch Coaches Association) is the professional organization for fastpitch softball coaches. Known for its highly-regarded All-Region and All-America awards, the NFCA also educates and supports softball coaches on a variety of different levels: from podcasts to a comprehensive drills database, to in-person events and a National Convention.
Learn more about the NFCA and consider joining nearly 6,700 coaches today at NFCA.org.