[caption id="attachment_298262" align="aligncenter" width="600"] (UK Athletics)
Kentucky softball got off to a promising start for the 2020 season and they'll have to try and do it again next year without their best player.
Alex Martens announced on Friday that she would not be using her extra year of eligibility granted by the NCAA due to the coronavirus, and that she would be continuing her academic career at Furman University.
Before COVID-19 canceled her season, Martens was arguably the top-hitter in collegiate softball. She led the NCAA with 47 runs batted in, was hitting a career-high .507, scored 28 runs, and drilled nine home runs to go along with nine doubles. In late March, Softball America
named Martens the third-best player in the country, while another outlet tabbed her as the SEC's top overall player.
Here is Martens' full statement on her decision:
I have been putting this moment off as long as I could, hoping it would just be a bad dream. Words can not describe how thankful I am. For the past four years, I’ve been lucky enough to wear the great state of Kentucky across my chest. Thank you all, for allowing me to be part of something so much bigger than myself. You welcomed a small-town girl from northern Illinois with open arms and made Kentucky home.
Thank you to the University of Kentucky and Mitch Barnhart for allowing me to chase my dreams to the peak of excellence. What I have accomplished at this university exceeds all expectations I ever had for myself.
To my teammates, who I consider to be family, thank you for all the dance parties, movie nights and dinner dates. Memories we have will last a lifetime and I can not wait to watch you all succeed in what you choose to do; the opportunities are endless. Thank you for making me the woman I am today, and for being my shoulder to cry on more times than none.
To Coach Lawson, Coach Himes, and Molly, thank you for taking a chance on me all those years ago. I would not be the friend, daughter or woman I am today without the standards you held this program to and the way you respect each of us. You created a family environment like no other and truly set us up for success. Not to mention, you gave me the best gift of all…..my cat Milo.
To my family, I know these events have been equally as hard for you. Thank you for being the best support system a girl could ask for and allowing me to grow on my own these past few years. Your commitment to see me play college softball taught me that no distance is too far for those you love.
To 7-year-old Alex, who just picked up a softball for the first time, you did it. I am so proud of you for the barriers you broke and the person you have become. Don’t let anyone tell you your dream is too big.
With all this being said, and after much prayer and reflection, I have made the decision to forgo my extra year of eligibility and continue on the path to pursuing a second degree in a Masters of Art in Strategic Design from Furman University in collaboration with the Miami Ad school at Portfolio Center. I truly believe that when one door closes another opens, and I am excited to see what the future has in store for Big Al. Thank you, all, for the best four years of my young life.
Martens' announcement comes just a few days after her teammate, Bailey Vick, also announced
that she would forgo her extra year, as she has a full-time job already lined up once she graduates. The same publication that labeled Martens as the SEC's top player had Vick right behind her at No. 2 overall. Both players were also named Miss Wildcat at the virtual CATSPYs last week. D1Softball.com did a cool profile on their relationship, which you can check out by clicking here
Head coach of the softball team, Rachel Lawson, had this to say about Martens:
"I will always remember Alex as being someone who put their full trust into the process of being a Kentucky Softball player. Alex trusted everyone from her teammates, coaches, strength coaches, nutritionists, faith leaders, athletic trainers and support staff members and used their advice to become the best version of herself. She was able to maximize the resources that are provided at Kentucky and made herself into one of the best leaders we have ever had in our program. Alex additionally had a great effect on people around her and was able to make anyone feel comfortable. You could tell the effect that she had on her teammates by the way she led in her senior season. We look forward to seeing Alex excel in the next chapter of her life and thank her for being a great Wildcat."