Vaught’s note: Kentucky softball coach Rachel Lawson was named the SEC’s top coach today. A few hours earlier this is the column I had on lex18.com. Enjoy. http://www.lex18.com/story/31932512/rachel-lawson-deserves-to-be-sec-coach-of-the-year
LEXINGTON, Ky. – For the first time in her distinguished career, Kentucky softball head coach Rachel Lawson was crowned the Southeastern Conference Coach of the Year after guiding the Wildcats to a 43-11 regular season record, the best in program history.
Lawson led Kentucky to not only a program-best 43-11 regular season record, but a 17-7 SEC record, good enough for outright second place in the toughest softball conference in the nation, which was the highest finish in program history.
Now in her ninth season at the helm in Lexington, Lawson has taken the Kentucky softball program to new heights every year she has been in charge – including this season, where she became the first coach in program history to eclipse 300 wins as the head coach at Kentucky. In addition to winning her 300th game at Kentucky earlier this season, she also surpassed 100 career SEC wins and 400 career wins all this season.
The winningest head coach in program history has not only lead UK to its first-ever appearance in the Women’s College World Series, four NCAA Super Regionals the last five seasons, including a program-best 50 wins in 2014, but UK’s administration come through on their promise and commitment to softball by providing Lawson with one of the nation’s greatest collegiate softball facilities in the $9.5 million John Cropp Stadium.
Two of the last three seasons, Lawson had led the Wildcats to a national seed in the NCAA Tournament – the school’s first-ever national seed was in 2013 – and hosted a NCAA Regional. Kentucky, which has made the NCAA Tournament each of the last seven seasons – one of just 21 schools nationally to claim that honor – is one of just nine schools to be a national seed two of the last three seasons.
Now sitting at 409-294 in her career, Lawson is the winningest head coach in school history and already has more wins in SEC play than UK had all told as a program when she took over in 2007. UK finished the 2014 season ranked sixth in both national listings for its best final ranking ever. In 2013, Kentucky was ranked in the top 14 of both collegiate softball rankings for the second time in school history with nine wins over ranked teams. In her nine seasons at Kentucky, Lawson has defeated over 70 ranked foes, including 35 wins vs. top-10 teams and 18 against top-five teams.
Kentucky will open SEC Tournament play on Thursday afternoon in Starkville, Miss., at 2:30 p.m. ET live on the SEC Network. The second-seeded Wildcats will play either the seventh-seeded LSU Tigers, or 10th-seeded Texas A&M Aggies – who play on Wednesday afternoon in the opening round of the tournament hosted by Mississippi State this week.