Pick Your Community: | Hopkins | Muhlenberg | Daviess | Christian | Fayette | Henderson | Lakes | McCracken | Warren | Webster
Davis Motor Sales banner ad

Softball Leans on Team Chemistry, Experience for Next Step

UK womens softball 500

LEXINGTON, Ky. (2/3/14) – For a while, the thought of seeing a University Kentucky softball team play in the NCAA Tournament seemed in the distant future.

Then the Rachel Lawson tenure started at Kentucky and six years later, after five consecutive NCAA Tournament appearances and two NCAA Super Regionals in three years, making the NCAA Tournament is more than a thought.

It’s an expectation.

The 2013 season ended with Kentucky earning a school-record 41 wins, hosting a NCAA Regional for the first time in school history and a top-14 final ranking in both collegiate softball polls. But after the final out of the NCAA Tempe Super Regional no member of that team, including Lawson and her staff, was satisfied. The Wildcats were proud of what they accomplished, but also hungry and motivated for more.

"If you would have said at the beginning of the year that we would have made it all the way to supers against ASU with five freshmen starting I would have said that's a tall order, but they responded," Lawson said in Tempe last spring. "I do feel like we have a solid foundation.”

That solid foundation is built on the return of 15 letterwinners from last season including eight position starters, two pitchers and the arrival of four talented newcomers. But, for Lawson, it is more than just the stat lines returning for another year. The foundation she was talking about was the confidence, competitiveness and experience her team learned in Tempe.

Kentucky softball team begins 2014 season on Feb. 6 vs. Santa Clara in Long Beach, Calif.

“I think what they learned from Tempe was that they developed a lot of confidence,” Lawson said. “I think they have an understanding of what it is they need to get done and they are a confident group. Everybody on this team has won state championships and ASA titles and regional championships. That was a major goal when we were recruiting them. Once they figured out how to adjust to the speed of the game they were remembering who they were and where they came from. More than anything, the confidence that they have to compete at this level is at a good level right now. With that said, you can’t just be confident you have to execute as well. This team understands that now they have to prove it on the field.”

The cornerstone for 2014 returns in the form of veterans Lauren Cumbess and Griffin Joiner, who both started every game last season. Voted captains by their teammates and staff, Cumbess and Joiner are charged with the task of keeping the team focused and motivated in 2014 to avoid a letdown or complacency that some could expect after a historic year like UK achieved in 2013.

Lawson is not one of those people. She feels good about her depth heading into 2014 at every position and, most importantly, she likes how her team is competing every day in practice.

“I think when you have options in your lineup that also helps you not to worry about those sorts of things,” said Lawson, who is entering her seventh year at the helm of the program. “When you don’t have as many options and those people go into a slump and things happen as a coach you are handcuffed, but I don’t feel like that with this team. In any situation we have a number of people who can play in the infield and a number of people who can play in the outfield at a very high level. They are a very competitive group and our team is competing at everything they do so that is good.”

Couple the competitiveness of this team with solid team chemistry and a strong collective work ethic and you start seeing signs of a positive 2014 spring on the horizon.

“I think team chemistry is at an all-time high, which is huge when you go through the grind of the sport like softball,” Lawson said. “We start practicing in late August and early September and those kids are going hard straight through February. It is a good sign that they still enjoy being around each other and feed off of each other.”

In her final postgame news conference last season in Tempe, Lawson said in order for UK to take that next step they had to improve offensively, getting stronger and more aggressive as well as grasping the mental side at the plate. An emphasis Lawson put on the team this fall and winter, an improved offensive strategy and aggressiveness is also taking shape.

“I think they have caught on earlier to offensive strategy and things like that,” Lawson said. “They are a lot more aggressive. We have been making it a priority to be more aggressive on the bases and they have seemed to embrace that whereas last year they were just trying to get through practice. This year, I think they are catching on and that is good.”

Behind its highest preseason rankings in school history, the next step for Kentucky is hosting an NCAA Super Regional and advancing to the Women’s College World Series. A lofty expectation for any team, but one the current Wildcats embrace.

“When your team respects each other and all get along and have similar high work ethics, it is good,” Lawson said. “Now, once they start executing and doing those things right I think hopefully we can take the next step.”

SurfKY News
Information provided by UK Athletics

© Copyright 2014 SurfKY News Group, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, or rewritten without permission. SurfKY News encourages you to share this story by using one of the social media links below.

Posted on 2/2/14
Genovese - http://www.mchky.org/staff/bio.php?doc_id=35646&sub= Lewis - http://www.mchky.org/getpage.php?name=bracken_lewis Holt - http://www.mchky.org/getpage.php?name=drholt Napier - http://www.mchky.org/getpage.php?name=dr.napier_page Newman - http://www.mchky.org/staff/bio.php?doc_id=50353
Genovese - http://www.mchky.org/staff/bio.php?doc_id=35646&sub= Lewis - http://www.mchky.org/getpage.php?name=bracken_lewis Holt - http://www.mchky.org/getpage.php?name=drholt Napier - http://www.mchky.org/getpage.php?name=dr.napier_page Newman - http://www.mchky.org/staff/bio.php?doc_id=50353
3/12 - 718 switched from reg 2 to hopkins only
2/6/2014 - posted
Started 11/8/2013
Started 11/8/2013
Genovese - http://www.mchky.org/staff/bio.php?doc_id=35646&sub= Lewis - http://www.mchky.org/getpage.php?name=bracken_lewis Holt - http://www.mchky.org/getpage.php?name=drholt Napier - http://www.mchky.org/getpage.php?name=dr.napier_page Newman - http://www.mchky.org/staff/bio.php?doc_id=50353
Genovese - http://www.mchky.org/staff/bio.php?doc_id=35646&sub= Lewis - http://www.mchky.org/getpage.php?name=bracken_lewis Holt - http://www.mchky.org/getpage.php?name=drholt Napier - http://www.mchky.org/getpage.php?name=dr.napier_page Newman - http://www.mchky.org/staff/bio.php?doc_id=50353
3/12 - 718 switched from reg 2 to hopkins only
2/6/2014 - posted
Started 11/8/2013
Started 11/8/2013
Genovese - http://www.mchky.org/staff/bio.php?doc_id=35646&sub= Lewis - http://www.mchky.org/getpage.php?name=bracken_lewis Holt - http://www.mchky.org/getpage.php?name=drholt Napier - http://www.mchky.org/getpage.php?name=dr.napier_page Newman - http://www.mchky.org/staff/bio.php?doc_id=50353
Genovese - http://www.mchky.org/staff/bio.php?doc_id=35646&sub= Lewis - http://www.mchky.org/getpage.php?name=bracken_lewis Holt - http://www.mchky.org/getpage.php?name=drholt Napier - http://www.mchky.org/getpage.php?name=dr.napier_page Newman - http://www.mchky.org/staff/bio.php?doc_id=50353
3/12 - 718 switched from reg 2 to hopkins only
2/6/2014 - posted
Started 11/8/2013
Started 11/8/2013
Genovese - http://www.mchky.org/staff/bio.php?doc_id=35646&sub= Lewis - http://www.mchky.org/getpage.php?name=bracken_lewis Holt - http://www.mchky.org/getpage.php?name=drholt Napier - http://www.mchky.org/getpage.php?name=dr.napier_page Newman - http://www.mchky.org/staff/bio.php?doc_id=50353
Genovese - http://www.mchky.org/staff/bio.php?doc_id=35646&sub= Lewis - http://www.mchky.org/getpage.php?name=bracken_lewis Holt - http://www.mchky.org/getpage.php?name=drholt Napier - http://www.mchky.org/getpage.php?name=dr.napier_page Newman - http://www.mchky.org/staff/bio.php?doc_id=50353
3/12 - 718 switched from reg 2 to hopkins only
2/6/2014 - posted
Started 11/8/2013
Started 11/8/2013

Most Read This Week (Site-Wide)

July 28, 2014 3255

Madisonville Woman Arrested for Being a…

in Top Stories by Madisonville Police Department
July 28, 2014 2854

Madisonville Man Arrested for Endangering…

in Top Stories by Madisonville Police Department
July 30, 2014 2827

UPDATE: Waide Responds to Allegations of…

in Top Stories by Rita Dukes Smith, SurfKY News Director
July 28, 2014 2408

Disagreement Over Killing Snake in House…

in Top Stories by Madisonville Police Department
July 30, 2014 2144

Three Arrested in Muhlenberg as Part of…

in Top Stories by GPD Officer Wes Miller

Most Read Stories from Hopkins County

July 28, 2014 3255

Madisonville Woman Arrested for Being a…

in Top Stories by Madisonville Police Department
July 28, 2014 2854

Madisonville Man Arrested for Endangering…

in Top Stories by Madisonville Police Department
July 28, 2014 2408

Disagreement Over Killing Snake in House…

in Top Stories by Madisonville Police Department
July 28, 2014 1663

Two Injured in Vehicle Collision on…

in Top Stories by William Roundtree
July 28, 2014 1656

Madisonville Man Arrested for Assault,…

in Top Stories by Madisonville Police Department

Most Read Stories from Owensboro

July 28, 2014 1025

Zuberer Takes Over at Quarterback for…

in News by Steve LeMaster
July 28, 2014 917

Dont Miss Out on a Howl of a Good Time

in News by Brittni Bunn
July 28, 2014 790

Instant Admissions Day is Aug. 1, 2014

in News by Bernie Hale
July 29, 2014 628

Happenings and Meetings - Daviess County

in News by Owensboro-Daviess County Convention & Visitors Bureau
July 28, 2014 421

Prosecutors Mull Over Whether to Charge…

in Top Stories by Dennis Beard, SurfKY News

Most Read Stories from Muhlenberg County

July 30, 2014 2144

Three Arrested in Muhlenberg as Part of…

in Top Stories by GPD Officer Wes Miller
July 30, 2014 1859

UPDATE: Muhlenberg Man, Woman Arrested in…

in Top Stories by Sheriff Curtis McGehee
July 28, 2014 1302

Foot Pursuit Ends with Arrest

in Top Stories by Christopher Rogers
July 28, 2014 1206

Boys of Broad to Launch Video at Cinema 4

in Top Stories by Paul McRee, SurfKY News
July 29, 2014 1188

Muhlenberg District Court Fines Handed…

in Top Stories by Charles W. Riley II, SurfKY News

SurfKY News Group, Inc. Central Office & Printing Division
1125 Nebo Rd.  •  Madisonville, KY 42431  •  270.452.2249 (fax)
Main Number: 270.452.2727 (phone)  •  Printing Division Direct Line: 270.821.8600 (phone)

SurfKY Owensboro News Bureau
920 Frederica St. / Suite 210  •  Owensboro, KY 42301  •  270.683-8060 (phone)


Contact a member of our staff: www.surfky.com/contact
Copyright © 2014 SurfKY News Group, Inc.  •  Terms of Use  •  Site Map

social 06social 21social 22social 04social 03