MILTON, Ga. — Cambridge’s Keara Napoli has been named the softball Gatorade Georgia Player of the Year for the 2016-17 season. The award is given to the top softball player in the state based on polling of coaches, sports journalists and high school sports experts. The award includes athletic performance, academic achievement and exemplary character on and off the field.
Napoli is the first athlete from Cambridge to win the award, and she says it is an honor to receive the same distinction many of her role models have won.
“It’s a huge honor to me because so many of the great pitchers I’ve looked up to have also won this award,” Napoli said. Ashley Morgan, whom Napoli competed against last season won the award for 2015-16, and Kelly Barnhill, Napoli’s role model, won the award the year before.
Napoli was instrumental in the Lady Bears’ run to their first state championship this season.
Napoli went 32-1 this season as pitcher, striking out 249 batters. She compiled a 0.58 ERA as Cambridge allowed just 37 runs in 36 games this season.
Her staggering statistics would not have been so impressive if not for the team, she said.
“My team makes me look so good,” she said. “The low-ERA and low amount of hits I gave up is because of their defense behind me and because the offense was backing me up. I owe a huge credit to them.”
Napoli was also impressive offensively, batting .505 this season with 39 RBIs and seven home runs.
The Gatorade Player of the Year Award is one of many accolades Napoli has received this season. She was also named the Region 7-AAAAAA Player of the Year, the Georgia Dugout Club Player of the Year and the AJC Player of the Year.
The Gatorade Player of the Year award is the most special, Napoli said.
“This award meant the most because I was up against all the other players in Georgia. There is so much talent and so many people who deserve this award.”
In winning the Gatorade award, Napoli will select a national or local youth sports organization to receive a $1,000 grant. She is looking for a sports-related charity that benefits children with cancer in honor of a friend.
Off the field, Napoli had an A average in her classes and is a member of the Fellowship of Christian Athletes. She has committed to the University of Georgia for softball.
Napoli is in the running for the National Player of the Year Award which will be announced this month.