This has been a remarkable year for Kentucky softball despite the jarring way in which the season ended, with Baylor coming back from a seven run deficit to defeat Kentucky in the Women's College World Series. Kentucky finishes the season ranked #6 in the nation. Consider some of the numbers:
Kentucky ended the 2013 season ranked No. 12 in the ESPN.com/USA Softball Top 25, which was then its highest final ranking in that listing in program history. Prior to Tuesday’s No. 6 final ranking in the USA Today/NFCA Top 25, UK’s highest final ranking in the poll was No. 13 in 2011. This is the third time in the last four seasons that UK has ended the season ranked inside the top 14 of both national polls.
The rankings put the final stamp on the winningest season in UK softball history with the Wildcats earning 50 wins and advancing to the Women's College World Series for the first time in program history. Kentucky started the season with 12 consecutive wins, marking the longest winning streak in school history and the best to a season in program history.
Rachel Lawson, Kentucky's coach, is yet another example of how far Kentucky has come in getting top-quality coaching into both revenue and non-revenue sports. Interest in Wildcats softball is at an all-time high in the Bluegrass, and there seems to be no end in sight. Speaking of Lawson, consider this:
Prior to Lawson, UK had played 11 years of softball and never made it to the NCAA Tournament. Under Lawson UK has advanced to six NCAA Tournaments, three NCAA Super Regionals and one WCWS. In Lawson's time at UK, she has coached 10 players to 25 All-SEC honors, including three Wildcats named all-conference in 2014. Kentucky also earned its first-ever national ranking in either poll in Lawson’s tenure.
That's the kind of coaching that will get your program not only noticed, but in the mix for the NCAA Tournament championship on an annual basis. Now, if we can just get football off the mat and baseball over the regional hump, we'll be on our way.
By the way, Kentucky is currently 16th in the Director's Cup standings, which would be a school record, with only baseball and track yet to be counted. Louisville is currently 28th, but their trip to the CWS will probably improve that number some.