Rachel Lawson Finalist for Herald-Leader Sportsman of the Year
LEXINGTON, Ky. – University of Kentucky softball head coach Rachel Lawson has been named one of 10 finalists for the 2014 Lexington Herald-Leader Kentucky Sportsman of the Year award, the newspaper announced on Friday afternoon.
The Lexington Herald-Leader is revealing the top 10 finalists in alphabetical order, starting last Sunday and running up until next Tuesday. Lawson was the sixth finalist to be named. The winner will be announced simultaneously the night of Feb. 4 on Kentucky.com and at the fourth annual Bluegrass Sports Awards banquet. The complete list of finalists already named can be found at Kentucky.com.
Lawson was named a finalist after the Lexington Herald-Leader presented a list of nominees to media members across the Commonwealth of Kentucky. Media members were asked to rank their top 10 choices.
Now entering her eighth season as UK's head coach, Lawson's vision for the UK softball program has started to become a realization. The winningest head coach in program history had a banner year in 2014, leading UK to its first appearance in the Women's College World Series and third NCAA Super Regional showing in the last four seasons. Overall, Lawson guided Kentucky to a program-record 50 wins and the team set single-season records in at-bats, runs scored, doubles, home runs, RBI, total bases, walks, fielding percentage, putouts, lowest ERA and strikeouts.
On top of the WCWS appearance, UK also advanced to the program's first Southeastern Conference Tournament Championship game and started the season with a program-best 12 straight wins. The Wildcats ended the season with a No. 6 final ranking in both the USA Today/National Fastpitch Coaches Association Top 25 and ESPN.com/USA Softball Top 25, marking the program’s highest final ranking ever.
Lawson’s turnaround of the program is obvious. In the program’s 11 years before Lawson was named head coach, UK had one winning seasons, 242 wins, 64 SEC wins, zero wins vs. ranked opponents, zero NCAA Tournament appearances and four All-SEC honors. In Lawson’s seven years at the helm, UK has had five winning seasons, 244 wins, 84 SEC wins, 55 wins vs. ranked opponents, six NCAA Tournaments and 25 All-SEC honors.
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