After wrapping up the most successful season in school history, the Kentucky softball team has put its final mark on the year, finishing the season ranked No. 12 in the ESPN poll. That ties the mark for the highest final ranking, also earning a No. 12 ranking in 2011 after the first-ever NCAA Super Regional appearance.
Kentucky finished the year with a school record 41 wins and its second NCAA Super Regional berth. The Cats traveled to Tempe, Ariz. but couldn’t come away with a victory over the 5th-seeded Arizona State Sun Devils for a spot in the Woman’s College World Series.
The Wildcats battled through one of the toughest schedules in the country, in total playing 32 of its 62 games against ranked teams, or teams receiving votes. Against those ranked teams, UK posted a 17-15 record.
The NCAA Tournament appearance was the fifth consecutive for head coach Rachel Lawson and her team. Kentucky is among only 23 schools that can make such a claim. Adding to the high honor this season, was the team earning its first ever Regional host, welcoming Notre Dame, Virginia Tech, and Marshall to the newly renovated John Cropp Stadium.
Looking ahead, the core of the softball team remains very young, losing just two seniors on the squad; infielder Kara Dill, and outfielder Alice O’Brien. Ace pitcher Kelsey Nunley cruised through her freshman year, while already making a mark on all-time and single-season records at Kentucky. Sluggers Lauren Cumbess, Griffin Joiner, and Nikki Sagermann will all be returning to the meat of the batting order, and speedster Sylver Samuel will likely retain her position as a slapper at the top or bottom of the lineup.
The future of the team is bright, and capping off one of the most successful seasons in program history gives a lot of hope for next year.