Cat Scratches
Interactive Twitter Facebook

Lessons learned, UK softball out to make WCWS trip the first of many

| No Comments | No TrackBacks
UK advanced to the first Women's College World Series in school history in 2014. (Chet White, UK Athletics) UK advanced to the first Women's College World Series in school history in 2014. (Chet White, UK Athletics)
OKLAHOMA CITY -- Having just seen the season end, Rachel Lawson took time to reflect on exactly how special 2014 had been for Kentucky softball.

Women's College World Series berth. Fifty wins. A trip to the Southeastern Conference title game. The list of firsts goes on.

Nonetheless, Lawson's nature meant the wheels in her head couldn't help but keep turning.

"Well, I'm always a learner, so I'm already preparing for next year," Lawson said.

Her words came moments after a heartbreaking 8-7 defeat at the hands of Baylor during which the Wildcats gave up a seven-run sixth-inning lead. Kelsey Nunley, as she had throughout the tournament, threw every pitch even as the Lady Bears adjusted to her electric stuff.

"It was probably one of the hardest things I've ever done because I knew that I was physically giving my all but just wasn't going the way I wanted to," Nunley said.

Noticing that, fans watching at home -- many of whom discovered the sport through UK's magical postseason run -- questioned why Nunley remained in the game. The sophomore, after all, had thrown upwards of 1,600 pitches in NCAA play.

The always-honest Lawson admitted she made a mistake with her pitching staff, but she says her error came well before the first pitch of Saturday's elimination game. Given her well-placed faith in Nunley, Lawson only felt comfortable with one of her pitchers actually pitching, no matter the talent of Lauren Cumbess, Meagan Prince and Shannon Smith.

"The mistake with me is that I didn't prepare them to come in, so the reason I went with Kelsey is because I'm comfortable with what they were doing," Lawson said. "They were timing her and squaring up and they had me figured out, so a change would have been great but I didn't prepare them for that situation and it was too unpredictable."

For ascendant softball programs that's not unprecedented, but it is a lesson for Lawson.

"Moving forward I realize in order to win the World Series you have to make sure that you have a staff prepared and I think you're going to see that moving forward with Alabama and you're going to see it moving forward with Florida," Lawson said. "When I watch what they did. What they did is really smart. They prepared all their pitchers for this moment but, they had to get there the first time and the first time they were in the show they pretty much rode one arm."

The two teams referenced by Lawson will play for the national championship this week. Florida and Alabama, however, are far from first timers, combining for 16 Women's College World Series appearances.

It's Lawson's goal to establish UK as a program that makes similarly regular trips to Oklahoma City and competes for titles, but the Cats had to take a first step to get there on the strength of Nunley's right arm.

"I think it's really hard to go to the World Series," Lawson said. "I think learning how to go to regionals and then learning how to host and then learning how to go to supers is all very difficult, but it's a whole other level when you have to figure out how to go to the World Series.

"So I feel proud for this team because they are the first team in Kentucky history that's figured out how to go to the show and I think that's very special."

No TrackBacks

TrackBack URL: http://cstv.collegesports.com/mt5.2/mt-tb.cgi/54921

Leave a comment




Recent Comments