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Cassandra Valdez Voted TUCCI/NFCA NAIA Pitcher of the Year

Cassandra Valdez Voted TUCCI/NFCA NAIA Pitcher of the Year

LOUISVILLE, Ky. – Our Lady of the Lake University's Cassandra Valdez had an incredible senior year as part of softball's journey to capture the schools' first-ever national championship. She has received NAIA and National Fastpitch Coaches Association (NFCA) All-American First-Team honors and was named NAIA Pitcher of the Year. Today, the NFCA announced that Valdez has been voted TUCCI/NFCA NAIA Pitcher of the Year.

Valdez spearheaded a vaunted pitching staff that keyed Our Lady of the Lake to its first NAIA Softball World Series title and the first national title for OLLU athletics. The graduate hurler posted a 30-1 record in the circle and owned the NAIA's lowest ERA at 0.53. Valdez struck out 286 batters, held the opposition to a .149 batting average, registered a 0.70 WHIP and posted 15 shutouts. During the Saints' undefeated postseason run (7-0), Valdez, a first-team NFCA All-American, was part of a staff that recorded shutouts in six of the seven games and held opponents scoreless in 62 of the 64 innings they pitched.

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 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 and Pitcher of the Year

2024 – Sarah Giles, Jessup (Player) / Cassandra Valdez, Our Lady of the Lake (Pitcher)
2023 – Haley Loffer, College of Idaho (Player) / Annaliese Wood, Georgia Gwinnett (Pitcher)
2022 – Kennedy Jackson, Oklahoma City (Player) / Emily Cerny, USAO (Pitcher)
2021 – Maile Deutsch, McPherson (Player) / Allison Golic, St. Xavier (Pitcher)
2019 – JC Smith, Oklahoma City (Player) / Gabby Sandoval, Southern Oregon (Pitcher)
2018 – Emily Cerny, University of Science and Arts of Oklahoma
2017 – Kaisey Carson, Indiana Wesleyan University
2016 – Nicole Nonnemacher, St. Xavier University